Lord Hunt says the CII has made great strides in improving the industry this past year.

This month my one-year term of office as president of the CII will come to an end. It has been a great privilege to occupy that role, and also an extraordinary experience.

As many readers will know, my twin themes for the year were professionalism and reputation. I hope those messages have had a positive effect.

Attracting the brightest and the best of successive generations is a necessity, not a luxury, for this industry. We shall achieve this not merely by offering the prospect of a good income – though that will always serve as a major inducement – but also by making everyone in the industry truly proud of his or her association with insurance.

You don’t need me to tell you these are difficult times for insurance, as they are for everyone else. During a downturn, however, private individuals, commercial concerns and the public sector all face increased uncertainty and risk, not less; so we need to be here for them, advising them, supporting them and helping them survive the storm.

As the economy hits turbulent times after a period of steady growth, it is more important than ever for “UK plc” that this industry remains fundamentally strong, which can necessitate taking some very tough decisions.

The other side of the coin is that, until this economic turmoil settles down, the labour market is going to become more of a buyer’s market. Insurance firms may well find themselves able to set even higher standards than usual as they sift through potential recruits. There must be no room for complacency in recruitment, however, for this is a great opportunity to improve standards further within our industry.

Considering the other side of the coin, however, how can ambitious, talented individuals differentiate themselves, in order to stand out from the pack? I believe the CII has come up with some excellent answers.

“During a downturn, private individuals commercial concerns and the public sector all face increased uncertainty and risk. We need to be here for them, advising them, supporting them and helping them survive the storm.

Lord Hunt

First of all there is the InInsurance initiative, which offers a two-way information portal, bringing together graduates and employers. It helps would-be applicants to both understand the industry and navigate their way through the applications process; and it offers employers the opportunity to engage in state-of-the-art, targeted promotion as they compete to attract the best talent on offer.

Secondly there is the CII Talent Initiative, which performs a complementary role and has deservedly won the support of some of the biggest names in the industry.

The first major event it sponsored, The Big Event at Manchester University last October, was a huge success, and was followed up with the Big Idea competition, which fosters innovation in financial services, and beyond.

The first winner was a young man from the United States who has pioneered a remarkable solar oven.These initiatives are to be encouraged and I hope they will be extended, and further supplemented, in the months and years ahead.

My CII presidential year may soon be over, but in the House of Lords and through my continuing legal work as a partner at Beachcroft, I very much hope that my association with this great industry of insurance has a good way to run yet! IT

Lord Hunt is a partner and chairman of the financial services division at Beachcroft, and president of the CII.