This article originally posted on June 20th, 2017 on LinkedIn. Republished here with the author’s permission because it contains some gems!
Remember that question we were always asked as kids…
What do you want to be when you grow up?
And do you remember when everyone raised their hands and said that they wanted to work in insurance? Yeah, well neither do I. In fact, I’d be surprised if any student, at any level, said that they were actively pursuing a career in insurance.
Precisely one year ago I began my career journey as an insurance professional. Admittedly, insurance was never at the top of my list as a kid when it came to career aspirations – and quite honestly – it probably didn’t even break into the top 25. Nonetheless, I sit here today and I am thankful to be a part of such an innovative and dynamic field, that attracts people from all walks of life.
Over the past year, I have played the role of gambler, scientist, economist, statistician, software developer, detective, salesperson, and so much more.
When you think of insurance, you might picture a sales rep, claims adjusters, or geckos. Which makes sense — they’re at the heart of the industry. But in reality, there is so much more to this rapidly evolving business despite the stale and lackluster reputation that has surrounded the industry for decades. As a young professional working in this space, I’ve realized that these labels are outdated and imbalanced. While high tech and high finance receive much of today’s glory, there are few industries that are as fast-paced, dynamic, and provide such a wide array of opportunity as the insurance industry.
Is insurance sexy? Not quite, but there’s certainly more than meets the eye.
The DNA of Capitalism
One of the most vital aspects of insurance is that it is a trade that affects nearly everyone in the world – from businesses that require liability insurance to individuals who desire health insurance.
Insurance provides nothing more than a promise. However, that promise and the trust of that promise is largely what enables the business world to function efficiently. The cathedral that is Lloyd’s could not have been built on a sham, deceit, or manipulation. Rather, it was built on centuries of delivering on promises. Solutions provided by insurance have allowed the world to progress for hundreds of years, and undoubtedly the industry will continue to deliver on fresh promises as it keeps the world pressing forward.
Insurance is an industry that is so fundamental to the overall system of capitalism and it creates the ability for all people to pursue a certain level of prosperity. Joe Plumeri, the former CEO of Willis Group, said it best when he referred to insurance as the “DNA of Capitalism.” He has confidence in that, “Without insurance, no bank would lend money to a construction company to build homes; no manufacturer would load their goods onto a freighter to carry those products across the oceans; no company that thrives on creative innovations would invest in research and development to advance whatever their cause — from pharmaceuticals to microprocessors.”
Insurance is the cornerstone of the economy, and it is enthralling to be a part of an industry that keeps the world spinning in such a way.
A Box of Chocolates
Whenever starting a new job, it is only natural to be accompanied by the fear of boredom or unfulfillment in our daily work. The insurance industry helps alleviate any of these apprehensions of monotony as there will always be new challenges to conquer and fresh opportunities to further develop.
This business is filled with endless alternatives to succeed in so many different concentrations. It is an industry that is intertwined with nearly every other sector imaginable and one that touches every business. This central distinction in the industry allows for a great amount of variety for its constituents. No two days in this space are ever the same because every day there are new opportunities to identify, quantify, and finance a wide array of evolving exposures. Not only does this provide variety in the daily work that is performed, but it also supports an assortment of different career paths to match an individual’s interests.
Because the industry affects every field and involves so many different career routes, insurance companies look for workers who have skills in a variety of concentrations, including communication, technology, problem-solving, research, analytics, and so much more. When I consider my place within the immense insurance world, I am constantly reminded that I am merely a speck in a vast industry. Whatever your interests, whatever your aspirations, there is a place for you within the insurance industry.
In the past year, one aspect of this business that I have quickly come to learn is that there is boundless opportunity for future development and leadership roles within the insurance industry. Because it is filled with a cluster of possibility in so many different fields, the prospect to succeed in this space is nearly limitless.
Furthermore, the talent in the insurance industry is quickly graying. The industry is currently occupied with many experienced individuals who have been around for decades, and in the near future, the insurance industry will lose many of these professionals to retirement. It is estimated that nearly 60% of the insurance industry’s current workforce is older than the age of 45 and that by the year 2020 there will be more than 400,000 positions left vacant by these departing professionals. The industry is hungry for young, driven talent to fill the pipelines before current staff disappears.
5 O’clock Somewhere
Your career is important, but as I’ve learned more and more in the past year, so is your life outside of the office. One of the greatest benefits of working in insurance is that you can create a work-life balance that satisfies both your financial wellbeing alongside your mental health. Careers in insurance can be fulfilling, challenging, and lucrative. But at the same time, they also offer flexibility that enables individuals to enjoy time with family, friends, and community.
At the end of the day, insurance still might not be considered sexy. Nonetheless, it is a stimulating industry filled with remarkable individuals, and I’m pleased to be right where I am.
About Cooper Cohen, CPCU
Cooper is an International Underwriter at CNA Financial in Chicago, Illinois providing tailored solutions to meet the foreign insurance needs of US-based clients doing business abroad. He graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame where he studied the complexities of Finance & Entrepreneurship. He is a native of Colorado and joined the insurance industry in 2016. Cooper holds the following designations: Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS), and Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS).