Something we’ve been vocal about to youngsters -“Our Industry Needs You”

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The UK insurance industry is finding new ways of promoting itself to attract young talent

Talent takes centre stage in 2012 at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) as it celebrates the centenary of its Royal Charter. As part of the celebrations the Institute has set out a number of key objectives that it hopes will help nurture the next generation of insurance talent.

CII president Julian James – one-time Director of World Markets at Lloyd’s who still sits on the board of the Lloyd’s Community Programme – based his manifesto for 2012 on recruitment because he believes that the insurance sector could do better at bringing talented young people into the industry.

Widening the talent pool
“We’ve got to recognise that we have a problem with the lack of talent in our world. It’s only once you understand that you have a problem that you are able to overcome it. We are dependent on too narrow a base of people,” James told

Citing a recent survey from consultants PwC that shows that nearly 60% of insurance CEOs see a shortage of skills as a significant threat to growth, James urged the London market insurers to get to grips with the recruitment challenge.

James, who is also Chief Executive of Lockton in London, believes that the insurance industry must get better at promoting itself and improving its image among young people shopping for careers. “I know for a fact that the insurance business offers rich rewards, not purely in material terms, but also as a way to travel and meet a wide array of people from all backgrounds and yes, to benefit businesses and wider society as a whole,” he says.

Young people have to step up to the job, however, James believes. “Although we need to encourage insurers to do all they can to recruit and attract talented young people, we must also recognise that 50% of employers do not think the UK education system meets the needs of the sector, and that basic communication and writing skills are needed,” he adds.

“Vitally, the CII is increasingly providing its members with the tools they need to do their job to the world-class standards that will be required, as global competition and emerging markets – and talent – increase their skills base and show what they can do for clients.”

Campaign to create positions
The CII recently launched its Discover Risk campaign aimed at creating positions in general insurance for school leavers and graduates. Among its objectives this centenary year is to advertise 100 graduate and school leaver positions on the Discover Risk website (, make available 100 summer placement positions and produce 100 apprentices from London.

The Discover Risk website registered its 100,000th site visitor this month since its launch in 2010 and James expects it to deliver 100 school events this year, “which is an important aspect of promoting the campaign to those considering their post-A level options”. The most popular form of employer support is a profile on the Discover Risk website, followed by case studies and supporting local events.

The Discover Risk campaign has support from across the UK insurance profession, but London companies could do better, he thinks. “There are more than 100 campaign supporters, although the London Market is relatively under-represented,” he says. “London Market employers tend more than others to use existing family and friend networks to fill placements so are not using the campaign to fill these placements.”

Challenging perceptions
The CII is also working to improve the diversity of the insurance industry and change the perception that it is a white, middle class career option only.

“At the CII we are taking every step to combat that perception of the industry, and the sector as a whole has become more and more diverse over the years. But more needs to be done,” he says.

The CII’s Diversity Action Group was set up to deal with this issue directly, and lobbies on behalf of the organisation to encourage diversity within the insurance and financial services sectors. The Group not only functions within the CII, but also communicates diversity policy to its members, to influence their decisions too.

“Moreover, through the work we and our members carry out with schools and universities, we have been able to reach young people of very diverse backgrounds, and hopefully encouraged them into careers in insurance,” James says.


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