A Troubled Brand
“I want to be an insurance agent when I grow up!” Not too many parents hear that statement from their middle schooler. Let’s be honest: When you pictured your dream job, a career in insurance was not foremost in your mind.
Most people fall into insurance by chance, or they have a friend or family member who introduces them to the industry. Yet we know that insurance is a rewarding career. So we need to communicate the challenging and exciting aspects of our industry to the next generation.
The insurance industry is like the unpopular kid on the playground. He’s quiet and awkward, often misunderstood, and falls victim to stereotypes. One day, he does something nice for one of the popular kids, the popular kid tells his friends, and they realize the unpopular kid is actually a pretty cool guy.
Often misunderstood by the public, our industry has faced criticism in the media and fallen victim to stereotypes. Like the kid on the playground, we need to create opportunities to share our stories.
Tony Cañas, a Financial Leadership Rotation Program associate at Nationwide Insurance and a member of the Millennial generation, shared his top 10 reasons a career in insurance is awesome (his word):
1. Our job is to help people protect their way of life and rebuild after a loss.
2. Designations offer opportunities for career advancement.
3. Most employers support continuing education.
4. Challenging and rewarding work.
5. Not a flat industry.
7. Standard 40-hour workweek.
8. 401(k) and pension plans.
9. Fantastic benefits.
10. Great vacation time.
“As an industry, we should do a better job of advertising the reasons this is a great industry to work in at both the high school and especially the college level,” says Cañas. “Gen Y values community service and prefers working for employers who they view as responsible. The industry should communicate its community service efforts and specific examples of how we help people in their time of need.”
How to recruit and retain young talent remains a hot topic in our industry. Nearly 500,000 insurance professionals will retire between 2008 and 2018, according to McKinsey & Co. What will we do to replace them?
In September 2011, more than 100 industry professionals, academics, students and others met in Atlanta at the Insurance Education and Career Summit, hosted by The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation. Their aim was to develop a collaborative effort to attract the next generation of industry employees. As a result, The Institutes and The Griffith Foundation were asked to lead the “Engaging the Next Generation” initiative for our industry. The initiative is designed to create a unified industry voice to generate awareness among high school and college students of the many professionally and personally rewarding career opportunities within the industry.
To fill the projected gap of 50,000 new hires per year, it is going to take significant collaboration within the industry, says Jason Terrell, program director at The Griffith Foundation.
“Filling the talent pipeline will be challenging,” says Nicole Jolley, an industry employee (and a Millennial). “My generation is drawn to social responsibility, contributing on a larger scale, and challenging work. Insurance, by its nature, allows Millennials to make a meaningful contribution that has a significant impact on people and communities. The principles of insurance and the values of Millennials are naturally aligned.”
The key is communicating the correlation between what Millennials want and what insurance offers to the young masses. With that in mind, the CPCU Society is promoting risk management and insurance (RMI) as a career at the university level through its Campus initiative. The main objective is to align more than 23,000 credentialed volunteers with college and university students to spread the word about rewarding careers in the industry.
“We have mapped our CPCU Society chapters to RMI programs and are formalizing efforts to partner with universities to offer mentoring, classroom instruction and internships,” says David Medvidofsky, president of the CPCU Society.
The CPCU-Loman Education Foundation provides internship assistance and scholarships and matches students with employers, helping the students learn how their skills can lead to rewarding careers in the insurance industry.
The CPCU Society Leadership Council recently partnered with Gamma Iota Sigma—the fraternity for risk management, insurance and actuarial science majors—to offer a special category of CPCU Society membership as a way to develop future industry leaders. Their collaboration will help to further develop Millennials who have already made a commitment to the profession.
“My hope is that, upon graduation, they can hit the ground running, equipped with the education and experience they need to be key contributors to our industry,” says Iesha Brown, director of chapter relations at the society.
As we seek to attract young talent through the Next Generation initiative, we have an opportunity to change the public’s view of our industry. There are few causes nobler than helping people in their time of need. That is the essence of what we do. Now is the time to tell our story.