Moving from broking to underwriting – what you need to know

by Heat Recruitment

Whether you’ve achieved your peak potential in the field of broking and are seeking a new challenge or simply feel your skills are better suited to underwriting, you’re in luck: as a key function in the insurance industry, underwriters enjoy a highly rewarding profession. With the right combination of skills and experience, their earning potential can soar as the value of their work increases.

Of course, a career switch like this shouldn’t be made on a whim. While the role of a broker and underwriter may be closely linked, their day-to-day responsibilities are vastly different. Unlike brokers who work with the public directly, underwriters take on a much more “behind the scenes” role to assess the risk of prospective policyholders. It may not be purely analytical 24/7, but it’s certainly a significant change in pace from the day in the life of a broker.

If you have your sights set on joining this part of the profession, it’s a good idea to get an idea of what awaits you in your new career:

Switching lanes

Making the leap from broking to underwriting can’t happen overnight, and it will require further tuition. From here, underwriters tend to be assigned to a specific part of the profession such as motor insurance to work as an assistant, taking on more on-the-job training.

Naturally, your knowledge of the insurance industry will be a great help in getting to grips with the role: having worked with them as a broker, it’s likely you know what the role entails. However, that isn’t to say there is a lot to be learned: depending on which area of the profession you join (i.e. commercial or life insurance), you will need to quickly get accustomed to a whole new landscape.

The skills required

Although you don’t need a degree in one specific subject to become an underwriter, a background in economics, law or mathematics certainly won’t hurt. As an underwriter, your primary responsibility will be to assess risk: brokers and customers will rely on your analytical skills to draw logical conclusions and determine premiums. Beyond financial proficiency, this role demands the ability to make smart decisions quickly. Given that underwriting by nature will require you to work to tight deadlines, the ability to thrive under pressure is equally as pivotal to your success.

There will, of course, be certain transferrable skills that brokers can take from their current role – after all, attention to detail and first-hand knowledge of the insurance market will always be desirable attributes of an underwriting candidate. Naturally, those who possess the ability to communicate complex problems, issues, and solutions will undoubtedly be looked on favourably by employers –  but that doesn’t mean there is no room to sharpen your analytical skills.

A day in the life

Although they often work closely together, the role of an underwriter is certainly not as sales-oriented as that of a broker. While the challenges faced by a broker tend to revolve around attracting and retaining clients, underwriters are involved in a whole different ball-game: in their day-to-day working life, they must play a delicate balancing act to ensure premiums are competitive and accounts remain profitable without taking on too much risk.

Of course, that isn’t to say there is no social element to the role of an underwriter – in fact, building relationships with brokers is key in being able to negotiate policy terms effectively, and liaising with specialists is essential to drawing the right conclusions from thorough risk assessments. Being able to flow between both the hard and soft skill requirements of the role shouldn’t be new to you if you come from a background in broking, but that doesn’t mean you won’t notice a significant change in your daily life once you’ve moved into the role.

The salary you can expect

Underwriters who enter the profession through graduate or trainee schemes can expect to receive starting salaries that sit within the £24,000-£30,000 bracket: this is the industry average, but your exact salary will naturally be at your employer’s discretion and depend on your location.

A graduate on the Lloyds Graduate Programme, for example, will begin their professional underwriting career on £27,000. Having come from a background in broking, it’s likely you will be able to secure a salary in the upper end of this bracket.

Once qualified, underwriters tend to take home between £25,000 and £40,000. From here, your salary has the potential to grow so long as you are committed in refining your skills and taking on more responsibility. Stick with it, and your role as a senior or lead underwriter could rise to £90,000.

Looking to make the jump from broking to underwriting? Get in touch with the team at Heat for advice and assistance in finding the role that’s right for you.

by Aaran Hodges