Industry must reach out to grab young talent

I attended the funeral of a former colleague in Glasgow this week. My trip gave me time to reflect. I mentioned last week how travel broadens the mind and sharpens the focus on customer service, but it also allows the opportunity to read the many papers that happen to cross my desk.

I concentrated on two reports in particular. The first was the ‘Role of Insurance in Reducing Flood Risk’ from David Crichton at Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre which highlighted some of the varied arrangements across the world in place to manage the problem. The UK government should take note.

The other paper was the Association of Independent Financial Advisers’ response to the FSA’s retail distribution review. The RDR doesn’t cover general insurance, but I believe that it will have a considerable impact on our sector all the same. I have no doubt that when the review is complete (or even before) there will be talk of read across to the general sector particularly with regards the adviser segmentation. Watch this space!

Technology is fantastic, particularly when travelling. I know younger people may not appreciate that fact accepting technology as a given, but as one of those individuals who has experienced the industry both BC (before computers) and AD (after hard drive) I am still fascinated by what we can do.

Keeping up to speed with email is always on my agenda and while away in Glasgow I was forwarded a press release from a firm of head hunters who have chosen to nurture ‘hand picked’ talent in the insurance sector. Their release was pretty blunt in that it suggested that the industry’s associations were not relevant to the younger person.

Now encouraging youth in the industry is something very close to my heart. Biba has people with a wide range of ages supporting its various committees and regions (our youngest regional chairman being just 28). Having worked as a broker for many years I believe that it is important to see not just what is happening in our own sector be it regulatory, technical or political, but the wider world beyond. Younger people can bring a fresh perspective and provide valuable insight into developments which will influence all of our lives.

I can imagine that some of the more cynical readers of this blog may currently be thinking: “He would say that, wouldn’t he.” But I’ve yet to come across anyone who has been involved with Biba that has not felt it useful.

Getting younger industry members interested will be vital for the future health of the insurance market, as it is with any organisation. But we shouldn’t leave it all to the young to take the initiative. It is something which is the responsibility of all senior managers/owners within the insurance sector not only to acknowledge, but to encourage (if not to insist), that their staff engage in the industry whether that be with Biba, the CII or the ABI. Now is the time to stop sitting on the edge of the pool with your toe in the water … jump on in.