’We all want to do the best by our clients and ensure they are receiving the best service,’ says Biba young brokers committee member
In an industry where fresh perspectives and innovative ideas are often called for as an antidote to reputational issues, traditional strategies and ways of working can sometimes come into conflict with the approaches of younger staff.
As consumer demands continue to evolve in terms of both products and the ways they interact with insurance providers, bridging the intergenerational divide within the sector’s workforce is increasingly important for insurance firms.
One question that looms large, however, is whether young brokers possess the skills and resilience to navigate this intergenerational tug of war and effectively implement their ideas to shape the future of the industry.
For many young brokers, persistence is the name of the game when bringing their perspectives to bear within their companies.
Speaking to Insurance Times, Ben Macrow, a member of the young brokers committee at Biba, stressed the importance of remaining persistent and true to oneself in order to make progress and overcome these challenges.
He explained: “I learnt that if you just continue being persistent and being yourself, always open to wanting to progress, you can overcome the challenges quite easily. Then, people will see you for who you are”.
Long-established practices within companies and a resistance to change from those in positions of power can often leave young brokers “feeling dismissed and unheard”, he added.
The allure of sticking to what has worked for decades can be hard to resist for seasoned brokers, resulting in a “reluctance” to embrace “new ideas and strategies”.
Passing the torch
A desire to iteratively improve on the traditional working practices of established firms is not to say that all traditional ways of working are to be immediately discarded by know-it-all youngsters, however.
Indeed, despite continued persistence from the younger generation to be heard, Macrow says this section of brokers recognise the “wealth of knowledge” possessed by their older counterparts – a wealth that risks being lost as retirement beckons.
Florence Dennis, lead client advisor at broker Partners& and chair of the East Midlands Biba committee for young brokers, told Insurance Times that she believed it was paramount for the younger generation to “absorb as much wisdom as they can from those with more experience”.
And as the older generation gradually retires, younger brokers will play a substantial role in shaping the industry’s future.
Dennis emphasised that the expertise and knowledge of the older generation must be “soaked up by their successors” before this vital experience is lost, if the torch is to be effectively passed down.
She said: “I believe younger brokers need to learn as much as we can from those with more experience whilst we can. I worry there is a whole wealth of knowledge which we could soon lose and that needs to be soaked up by the younger generation.
“Key challenges for me as a young broker are trying to shape the future of insurance whilst we have the time and whilst juggling a busy day job.
“To make a difference, you need to set time aside to get involved with projects and committees – but doing this whilst working and studying is very challenging”.
A new direction
While the traditional knowledge and experience of he insurance industry must not be lost, younger brokers are not content with merely inheriting this tradition as it comes – instead, many are seeking to bridge the gaps on certain issues that persist in the industry.
While progress is being made via this approach, Dennis highlighted her frustration at the slow pace at which meaningful changes were being implemented.
She said: “ It can sometimes be frustrating to know change is needed but watch it taking place so slowly – for example, the gender pay gap and the lack of women in senior positions. Every business talks about it, but yet it is still such a big issue for so many firms, who just do not seem to be doing much very quickly.
“It is getting better but when the topic is discussed so widely you wouldn’t expect it to take so long to make meaningful changes.”
Meanwhile, Macrow added that, in an industry where “change is inevitable”, failure to adapt would inevitably lead to it being “left behind”.
He explained: “Change is inevitable – especially with all these new products coming out now.
“With all these new technologies and advances, insurance has always been one step ahead to make sure that all these areas can be covered”.
As the next generation of brokers lead the sector towards change, they might appear distinct from the older generation at first glance.
However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the core values of commitment and service to customers remain for all sections of the broker community.
Despite their apparent differences in approach or perspective, these shared values serve as a common foundation. Dennis highlighted that the “core values between the generations are the same”.
“We all want to do the best by our clients and ensure they are receiving the best service,” she said.