This was the very first guest article to ever be featured on InsNerds. By Steve Foster, Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young – Global Insurance Underwriting Practice.
Cornerstones for a strong brand for today’s Insurance Professional
The insurance industry serves a major purpose for the public. #Insurance contracts are often overlooked by consumers who blindly expect that anything and everything is covered. Imagine a new business owner looking to purchase the best insurance coverage available for his/her risks. Where does he/she start? For a large business especially, a Google search may not be the answer! Fully understanding the intricacies of insurance contracts is not an easy task to accomplish. The answer is you!
As an #insurance professional, it is our duty to educate the general public on our industry. That does not mean an adjuster should be soliciting customers to purchase insurance, rather be the first to discuss concepts and answer questions for family, friends, and members of professional networks. The most important thing is that you take a sense of pride about the #insurance industry ; there are many great stories to tell about recovering from disasters and making a difference in consumers’ lives. This is truly an industry to be proud of!
Utilize the knowledge acquired from training and experience to make a difference in the industry. Every professional serves a role. Share your experiences with others in your circle of influence both in and outside of the industry. Celebrate winning a large account, improving a business process or settling a large claim. Be competitive about being a leader in the industry, while recognizing how the role you play fits into servicing our communities.
One excellent way to do this is to join an industry group like the CPCU Society or the Big I. Also consider getting involved in cross functional teams to learn about other functions of the insurance value chain. Finally imagine what could happen if we each committed to provide one consumer a day with a “little known fact about your policy”.
Trust takes time to build. There are many ways to build a strong relationship based on trust within the insurance industry. Have a strong work ethic and be a problem solver. Provide the best service in every interaction you have. Insurance professionals have a duty to continuously educate themselves in changing environments. Talk about hot topics, continue your insurance education, and be a forward thinker. The insurance industry is always evolving. Take time to develop your relationships based off of knowledge sharing, taking interest in helping clients and peers solve problems. Become a thought leader and provoker. Share your experience and continually look to improve business process, product offerings and the customer experience. Offer help and mentor junior staff to ensure they trust you are looking out for their best career interests. Offer leadership new ideas, and challenge yourself daily to ensure you are providing every stakeholder you encounter the best possible solution. Treat every relationship as the most important relationship of your #career. Take a genuine interest in getting to know peers, leaders, and customers to ensure that relationships are strong enough to build trust. Trust takes you from having a relationship to being an adviser.
In order to fulfill this cornerstone you must develop a deep commitment to your own growth as a world-class insurance professionals. You can do that by getting your CPCU, CIC, CLU or one of the many other designations, attending industry seminars and reading our trade press.
Professionals often become experts in a certain product or process. Utilize your experience to become the “go to” person in a few competencies. When you are utilized as a resource, that experience will be shared with others across numerous functions. As your expertise grows, so will your network. Use of technology, products, processes are perfect examples of areas to start building an expertise. Be sure to leverage your network to continue to learn from others. We often conduct our business in a team setting, so utilize your relationships to offer insights and learn from other’s experience. Take a chance at working cross functionally or reach out to members of other core business functions to further your knowledge. Always find a way to round out your skills. As you build out an expertise, you will build your brand and become an asset to not only your organization, but the industry overall. While becoming a deep expert in one specialty of the industry don’t neglect also becoming broad, most high-executives in the industry have broad backgrounds.
You are in the elevator with your company’s CEO, and he introduces himself and asks about your role and experience. You have 30 seconds, GO!! In all seriousness, this can make or break your career if it happens to be a director with an important vacancy. Imagine if it is the risk manager of the largest corporation in your company’s underwriting appetite. Everything you have read in this article is irrelevant until you master the final and most important cornerstone. If you cannot communicate your accomplishments and experiences to any and all listeners, there is no brand to share. Strong relationships, passion, and a unique skill set will give you a story to tell. You do not need to be an agent or production underwriter to be able to sell yourself. An interview, a promotion opportunity, or a yearly performance review are all great chances to build your brand and be recognized. Your brand is created with the three previous cornerstones; now, master communicating it every opportunity that comes.
- Be passionate about service and making a difference 2. Become a trusted adviser 3. Build a Unique Skill Set 4. Learn to Sell Yourself 5.