To attract young talent, the industry must do a better job selling itself.
- Stephen Catlin
- February 2019
Now, I’ve worked in the insurance industry since 1973, and I can tell you that insurance is certainly not boring! The world could not survive without insurance.
There are a handful of subjects about which I am truly passionate. One of those is that the insurance industry does not communicate the value of its product—insurance protection—nearly as well as it should. It doesn't matter if an insurer or broker deals in commercial or personal lines; we don't emphasize nearly enough the essential value that insurance provides.
Another subject about which I care a great deal is the need for the insurance industry to attract first-rate talent.
Insurance is truly a people business. Sure, one company's policy may be superior to another's, but where insurers and agents/brokers really differentiate themselves is with the level of service they provide to their policyholders. A company cannot provide excellent service if it does not employ excellent people.
These two subjects—the need for people to better appreciate what the insurance industry does and the need for the industry to attract great talent, especially young talent—are joined at the hip.
Please allow me to provide an example. The son of a colleague is in his last year of university, studying economics and politics. He is looking forward to beginning full-time work and is now starting to apply to graduate training programs sponsored by companies in all sorts of industries, including banking, retailing and transportation. When his father asked him if he had thought of applying to work for an insurer, the young man scrunched up his face and said, “But that's really boring. Besides, no insurers have come to recruit on our campus.”
Two lessons can be learned here.
One is that young people often reject insurance as a career because they think it's “boring.” Now, I've worked in the insurance industry since 1973, and I can tell you that insurance is certainly not boring!
The world could not survive without insurance. Planes wouldn't be able to fly … you wouldn't be able to drive a car without insurance.
Something as essential to the world's economy as insurance is certainly not uninteresting. One could argue that insurance, because of its nature, is probably more exciting than the banking industry, which is perceived by many as being a real glamorous profession.
The other lesson to be learned here is that the insurance industry must do a better job of selling itself to a lot of different audiences, not only its existing customers, but also young people.
Since insurance is not considered to be a “sexy” profession, insurers, agents and brokers must market themselves to ensure that we get the cream of the crop when it comes to talent.
Does your company have a graduate training or internship program? Does it actively recruit on college campuses? Even more basic, what is your company doing to illustrate to wide audiences the pivotal role that insurance plays in protecting businesses and people?
I am proud to have been part of the insurance industry for the past 45 years. During this time, the industry has transformed itself from often being a sleepy enterprise to become a modern, dynamic and vital part of the economic infrastructure.
It's about time we shouted out our story so that we can attract the talent we need so we can continue to flourish.
Best’s Review contributor Stephen Catlin is the founder of Catlin Group and former executive deputy chairman of XL Catlin. He is a member of the International Insurance Society’s Insurance Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.