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Broking: the emerging talent gap

Invest in the young and protect insurance broking’s future, says Brokerslink’s Denise Nart

Partners reviewing a business document in lobby
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There is a growing talent gap in the insurance industry.

In broking in particular is it becoming critical as there are far more people close to retirement and ready to leave than there are young people joining the profession. It is an unhealthy balance and one that will get worse if the market continues to focus on recruiting experienced underwriters, actuaries, and brokers in a war for talent rather than looking to attract and invest in the under-30s.

It is not just an issue for insurance, however. I sit on the board of GYIAD, a non-governmental organisation of over 100 business professionals and business owners in Turkey that is focused on increasing the political and economic impact of young businesspeople and executives and supporting creative entrepreneurship projects across all industries.

The under-30s face a lot of challenges. The problems start at schools, where there is a real lack of career guidance about the different industries and roles they could work in. And added to this, many of those that go on to study a specialism then find there are no jobs in the area they have trained in, and end up taking any job they can just to earn an income.

Attracting young talent needs to be given the same priority, and to be addressed with the same intensity, as core business and finance strategies

Youth unemployment is on the rise. In Turkey, for example, youth unemployment is at 24% and the pandemic is making the situation even worse. There is also serious gender inequality, with, for example, a recent survey showing that almost 90% of the young people who said they were not looking for a job were women.

We can do more

A lot of businesses across a whole range of industries are falling short when it comes to offering training, education, and career planning for young people. And they are missing a trick. At NART we always take lots of young people from universities as we like fresh blood and growing our own. It may be more effort in terms of training and career planning, but it is worth it – they are loyal, immersed in your company culture, and bring fresh ideas and thinking.

Unfortunately, most companies are not investing in human capital, which is the lifeblood of the insurance industry. But attracting young talent needs to be given the same priority, and to be addressed with the same intensity, as core business and finance strategies.

Businesses need to commit and to invest time and money in the young rather than rely on head-hunting experienced staff. And they also need to attract people from different educational and cultural backgrounds. At NART, for example, we take 30 students from universities every year for a full day’s programme, and then select 10-15 to join us for internships. And it works. Our construction energy head, who also now sits on our board, started as an intern, as did our head of claims.

Generation X and Baby Boomers tend to have a poor opinion of millennials or Gen Y-ers, seeing them as job hoppers who want too much too fast, but that is not true. In my experience, they will go above and beyond in the workplace and are passionate about their work, particularly when they understand the purpose of their role.

Changing perceptions

One barrier to attracting young talent to insurance is how the profession is perceived. It is often seen as being boring, or perhaps more worryingly, as immoral. It is a tough challenge to change that perception, but the truth is very different, as we all know. Insurance helps people in the worst times of their lives and also helps the economy by enabling businesses and industries to function.

There is a clear need to get this positive message across, and to promote the sector. Insurance broking, in particular, is innovative with an increasing take up of and investment in digitalisation, and it is embracing flexible working, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

Broking is diverse and varied – where else could you learn about so many different industries from automotive to construction to wind farms. I have been here for eight years and every day I feel like I am learning something new – and I am sure it will be the same in 30 years’ time.

And of course, insurance is also a stable industry, something increasingly attractive in these times of economic uncertainty.

Get on social media

I believe insurance businesses also need to do more on social media. So many companies just seem to have a static website and are not engaged on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. To not be on these platforms is a huge mistake.

When I interview interns, I always ask why they want to work with us and they are nearly always they say that they have looked at our social media output, and that they liked the professional, corporate image but also the fact that it seems to be a great working environment.

My final word is a plea for the wider insurance market and, of course, Brokerslink partners and affiliates, to ensure that attracting, training, and supporting young talent is at the top of their agendas, and to think outside of the box to attract millennials as they are, after all the future leaders for our businesses once we have gone.

My experience is that growing your own creates loyal, hard-working staff, who are immersed in your company culture and ensure your business grows and thrives both now and in the future.