It is the time of year when children reach significant milestones and parents realise they are growing old.
It could be they are starting school, college or university, although in my case it’s my youngest about to start work and just to add a little spice he wants to be like his old man and become an insurance broker, so is joining Nsure.
Strangely the milestone of kids not being a financial burden still seems some way off despite all three of my children now being in work, but at least this one is getting something out of the Government. As we are putting him through one of their apprenticeship schemes, they are funding much of his training through an external consultancy company who will also see him through the first stages of our industry qualifications. This is not restricted to the insurance sector, so if you are thinking of recruiting it is well worth considering a trainee under this scheme.
It will all be very different to when I started work in 1979; no computers, faxes or mobiles, although the insurance part will be much the same. Most risks that we insured back then still exist, but with a few new risks involving technology or reflecting how society has changed. It is the communication and processing side that has changed enormously with the advent of internet and mobile technology, although fortunately most customers (at least those that buy business insurance) value speaking to someone who knows what they are talking about.
In those days it was normal to start at the bottom, gain experience and work your way up with only a select few professions requiring University education. It was also the norm to start your career with an insurance company then decide what to do from there; some progressed with insurers and others (like me) moved on to other parts of the industry such as insurance brokers or loss adjustors.
At a national level, insurance has woken up to the fact that it has to compete with other professions and business sectors to attract youngsters to join the industry. It has been pushing professionalism for many years and offers a wide range of careers to include sales, management, IT, underwriting, claims adjusting, surveying and broking.
Locally in Sussex the insurance industry is very different to 1979. In those days, virtually every major insurer had at least one office in the area and there were brokers aplenty. Nowadays there are far fewer insurers and most of them have moved away with only a handful of offices of any size in the area and the broking sector has also seen significant consolidation because of the cost of regulation.
It means there are fewer insurance jobs around and the withdrawal of insurers from the area has had the knock on effect of making it harder for brokers to recruit, as over the years we have generally taken staff from insurers. So in recent years we have trained staff up with only limited insurance experience and my son will be our first attempt to start from scratch, although we have successfully operated a graduate recruitment scheme on the Financial Services side of our business.
So he is about to start at the bottom (possibly doing more tea making and washing up than he currently does at home) and will hopefully progress in what is a great and what I have said many times here before, interesting career. He will experience the lows of having to get through to insurer call centres, but also many highs; perhaps most satisfying of all is getting a client’s claim paid by a reluctant insurer.
He reckons he has already overtaken me in some physical activities (cheating at table tennis doesn’t count) and hopefully one day, if we do our job right, he will know more about insurance than me, but not for a while yet.