(This is the first of series from guest contributor Will Alverson)
The insurance sector, often misperceived as an antiquated industry, has grappled with serious recruitment challenges in recent years. As a critical backbone of the global financial system, it’s surprising to many that insurance companies face difficulties in drawing fresh talent into their ranks. One can’t help but notice the dual challenge: an aging workforce on the brink of retirement, and a younger generation that sometimes overlooks the vast opportunities within this sector.
While competitive compensation and benefits packages remain fundamental, to truly solve the talent and recruiting challenge, companies must think outside the box. Identifying how to step outside the box isn’t as easy as it sounds though, and the more I thought about the recruiting challenges in insurance, I began to reflect on my own introduction to it.
This is the first post in a three part series examining how the insurance sector can level up it’s recruiting to truly win the talent war and set up the future of the industry for success. Let’s dive in and discuss how brokers, carriers, insurtechs, and more can recruit and retain young talent.
Finding Excitement in Risk
Like many others working in the insurance ecosystem, I really didn’t plan on it. Prior to finding myself in the insurance ecosystem, most of my work was on projects that were fun to tell my friends about. For this reason I had some reservations about joining Highwing, at the time a division of IMA Financial Group, when I was approached by the team. I knew absolutely nothing about commercial insurance, and compared to the other work I was doing, it seemed confusing and dull.
Fast forward a few years and I continue to be absolutely captivated by insurance. What happened?
First off, working on huge problem sets with a brilliant team and great partners like Travelers and IMA was immediately exciting. The understanding of the scale and impact of the industry was another big driver of my conversion into an insurance nerd. To this day, two quotes that I heard early on stand out to me: “Risk taking requires risk transfer” and “An understanding of insurance gives you visibility into how everything works.” `
Understanding these two points sealed the deal for me. Insurance is required for just about everything to run smoothly (especially entrepreneurship) and, by learning insurance, I could learn about the broader financial system.
I am just a data point of one, however. Having built a solid peer network of ambitious young professionals working in insurance over the years, I decided to speak with some of them to examine why promising young professionals choose to work in insurance. What I found was a TON of overlap in the reasons they work in insurance, and how they think the industry can recruit more young talent.
Dispelling the “Boring” Myth
The talent landscape is shifting and recruiting rockstars who can both contribute immediately and realize long term potential is a battle not only with your competitors, but across industries. Tech companies bring fun office spaces and perks to the table, while other finance fields can be seen by young professionals as having more upward potential for their careers. Competing for talent with other industries requires both a mindset shift and a culture shift for the insurance industry.
There is a misconception from those outside of the industry, particularly young professionals, that insurance is terribly boring. It isn’t until you have worked in the insurance space, or had a sufficient level of exposure to it, that people seem to realize how engaging and interesting the space actually is. Brendan Kelly, an Account Executive at AON, put the issue into perspective:
“It truly interests me because every day is different. Risk profiles evolve and so does the market. You can never be stagnant because chances are the next year will not look like the last. At the same time, all the industry does is grow, especially considering the hyper litigious environment we live in, not to mention the dramatic effects of global warming that we are increasingly experiencing in every corner of the globe. It’s not rocket science – you need a good head on your shoulders, social skills and you’ll learn the hard skills pretty quickly.”
With a young workforce that wants to work on engaging problems and feel valued, the intricacies of the industry and the impacts it has are critical to communicate. To dispel the narratives that insurance is a boring industry, facetime with potential recruits is an absolute must. The more understanding young professionals have of the insurance space, the easier recruiting will be.
“I can’t remember any insurance brokers or carriers attending career fairs at my school, which is a huge missed opportunity. Getting young industry professionals out into the field to talk to potential recruits face to face is key and odds are the stigma of “Insurance is an old person industry” will not stick. The industry is not sexy at face value, but the selling point is the robustness. You can insure most anything and as an industry we are becoming more and more innovative in how we approach risk transfer. Insurance is a finance field, sell it as one.” said Kelly.
The theme across so many different conversations with young professionals working in risk-related companies was that as soon as someone begins to understand that the industry is exciting and dynamic, they are in it for the long haul.
Stay tuned for part two (HERE), where we’ll cover the mindset shift needed to improve the appeal of insurance as a career… or a career move.