As the insurance and reinsurance industries take increasingly rapid steps to move away from their traditional, conservative preserves, the influx of young talent, fresh ideas and new business areas to the marketplace has spawned a “people culture” where functionality and user-friendliness are key buzzwords.
Perhaps seeing themselves more as urban soldiers than city gents, the new generation of reinsurance professionals are both image conscious and practical in their choice of work clothes, trading pinstripes for combat trousers, Church's for Nike Airs and umbrellas for baseball caps.
A number of leading insurers, reinsurers and brokers have already set a trend towards Friday dress-down and certain European/US-backed companies operate a permanent casual clothes policy for non-client-facing staff.
The reins of the business are increasingly being held by a new generation of open-minded, well qualified, performance and technology-driven young professionals.
The influence of their international peer group in IT, banking and other financial sectors is clearly becoming evident in corporate strategies and internal systems as the implementation of technology and ecommerce-related initiatives gathers pace.
It is absolutely critical that organisations as diverse as Lloyd's and dotcom insurers are seen to be fully committed to enhancing efficiency, client service and aspiring to higher professional standards through new initiatives in order to maintain and enhance long-term status in the marketplace. Relationships with clients in media and high-tech businesses actually stand to benefit greatly from a less formal approach.
Trading on the strength of the old school tie (even if it is from Harrods) and the respectability of the pinstripe suit just doesn't work these days.
Yes, there are those who raise valid points about tradition, doing the City thing and the potential for more relaxed dress-codes leading to a decline in productivity (presumably through more relaxed attitudes) as well as those who feel that a dress-code is wholly irrelevant.
Consideration of the general situation encourages us towards the conclusion that the dress-down issue puts in perspective opportunities for the industry to draw from traditional values.
It can do this by blending them with modern thinking and innovation in order to create a comfortable, relaxed and focused professional environment conducive to efficiency.
Its clear that the look and feel of the industry to the wider world will fundamentally dictate future client loyalties and the quality of insurance professional that will take the market forward.