The CII 'talent taskforce' has called on the industry's big hitters to come forward and encourage high-flying students to pursue a long-term career in insurance.

The Insurance Times Young Professionals Advisory Board, in association with Groupama, which is part of the taskforce's focus group, was shown a presentation before Christmas on its objectives, which suggested that better role models were needed in the industry.

An insurance "alumni" club comprising leading insurance and broking entrepreneurs such as Esure's Peter Wood and Towergate's Peter Cullum was favoured by the group.

And research compiled by the CII on students' attitudes to insurance, in conjunction with the Cass Business School, showed a majority view that the industry lacked intellectual stimulation (see box).

The taskforce comprises leading figures in the industry such as Royal & SunAlliance commercial director Brendan McManus and Allianz Cornhill commercial lines managing director, Chris Hanks, and will incorporate the respective heads of the CII faculties, in particular the insurer, broking and London market faculties.

CII director of communications Steve Wellard, who is heading the initiative, said: "From the research produced with the Cass Business School last year, 90% of students said they would not spend any time considering insurance as a career.

"We want this industry to get the cream of the crop from the new generation of undergraduates and school leavers."

He said many students ignored insurance due to either a lack of knowledge of the industry itself or because the information they were exposed to did not instil further investigation.

McManus agreed that senior industry figures needed to spend more time talking to students, saying this would provide much more encouragement to enter the industry than presentations by middle management.

He said he also wanted to see industry conferences offering 'open days' to local students who could attend to find out about insurance industry issues.

The CII hopes to meet with other industry stakeholders such as the ABI, Biba and the Association of Independent Financial Advisors this month to discuss a cross-industry strategy.