The Chartered Insurance Institute should be 'working harder' to stop the brain drain caused by high calibre graduates shunning the industry, says a leading insurer.

Broker Network managing director Grant Ellis warned the UK insurance industry could stagnate because its lacklustre image was failing to attract the brightest and the best.

He called on the CII to be more proactive in raising the profile of insurance and to target talented youngsters.

"There is no shortage of bright, high calibre candidates queuing up to join solicitors' and accountants' firms – but unfortunately, we can't say the same thing for the insurance industry," he said.

"Sadly, it's more the case that people stumble into our profession, without actively choosing to do so.

"I have yet to come across anyone for whom moving into insurance was a deliberate career move.

"I strongly believe that it is only by attracting young blood into the industry – qualified, ambitious and with fresh ideas – will we be able to continue moving our industry forward."

Ellis called for an industry shake up from top to bottom in which the CII must play a vital role.

He said the body must raise educational standards and provide potential young candidates with an assurance that their skills will be both recognised and developed to the full. The industry must create a career development matrix that all recruits across the board will follow.

In addition, the industry must emphasise its diversity and excitement.

"All human life is here – from the largest international business deals through to all aspect of an individual's personal financial circumstances," he added.

Responding to the challenge, CII spokesman Steve Radford said many insurers and brokers were making qualifications a prequesite for careers, and that the CII is actively encouraging training for workers across the board.