The Ultimate Guide to Insurance Jobs
The Insurance Industry is one of the most competitive industries in the UK, but also one of the most rewarding. We’ve created an ultimate guide to the sector, to give you the latest insights into the Insurance industry and the job market as a whole.
Chapter 1: Time for disruption: why the Insurance Industry needs to play catch up with the digital age
Chapter 2: Q2 Insurance Sector Roundup and FAQs
Chapter 3: Industry Insights: Owner of Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers, James Woollam
Chapter 4: What next for the Insurance Industry in 2017?
Chapter 5: Looking for a Conveyancing role… no problem!
Time for disruption: why the Insurance Industry needs to play catch up with the digital age
by Esther Alley
It is widely acknowledged that the insurance sector has fallen behind related industries such as banking and finance in adopting digital technology. There are exceptions, of course, but overall, insurance is behind the times and needs to get to grips with digital urgently or else face serious consequences. So how has the industry fallen behind?
Well, one reason is that the operating environment has been so challenging in recent years that the sector’s energies have all been focused elsewhere.
There is a whole list of challenges (or excuses): the bleak economic scene, the eurozone crisis, the uncertainties of Brexit, changing legislation, and increasing competition. It can be argued there’s just too much going on to think about the massive changes that digital would involve.
What’s more, the sheer pace of technological advance makes it hard to know where to begin. But digital isn’t going away, and the insurance sector has already fallen behind. Here are some compelling reasons for it to catch up now:
- Do it or die!
That’s a pretty scary way to start, but digital offers new ways to approach insurance, and if incumbent companies don’t seize them, others will – either tech-savvy start-ups or those in other sectors. As an example, an Accenture paper in 2013 highlights how telematics could transform car insurance. If the insurance industry doesn’t embrace this, the auto industry and telecoms sectors will be happy to muscle in.
- New opportunities
If survival isn’t a big enough motivator, how about the excitement of the new? The sector is going to be disrupted by digital technology – better to be doing the disrupting than to become a victim of it. Consumers have increasingly powerful tech at their fingertips, and their attitudes as customers have shifted too. Digital offers insurers an opportunity to revolutionise their business model and completely rethink the way they work, both strategically and operationally.
- Facing the task
We have seen how criminals can use technology to shut down computer systems in hospitals, businesses, and public agencies. With the growth of the Internet of Things, smart cities, and the general increasing ‘connectedness’ of society, there will be new opportunities for disruption and damage from these cyber criminals.
Embracing digital and being sufficiently agile to adjust and readjust their business models and working practices will be the only way insurers can hope to keep pace with what futurist Matthew Griffin describes as “the enormous number of new variables and threats that the interconnected, technology dominated world creates”.
- Become the best
As digital technology transforms the insurance sector, so the characteristics which deliver success will change. The current leading insurance companies may become also-rans, as others emerge better suited to the new world of insurance.
That Accenture paper suggests three fronts which will characterise the high-performance digital insurer: Connected (reinventing the customer experience), Analytic (richer insights and smarter decisions to enable better outcomes) and Agile (staying one step ahead). The increasingly connected world, enabled by rapidly developing technology and changing consumer behaviour, brings huge challenges, but also opportunities for the insurance sector. Perhaps the only certainty is that insurers have to embrace digital if they are to survive and thrive.
Q2 Insurance Sector Roundup and FAQs
We are 6 months into 2017 now, so we thought we’d catch up with Dave Dewey from the Insurance team to find out about your most frequently asked questions, the state of the insurance job market and what’s set to change into 2018 and beyond.
What have opportunities been like in Insurance in the first half of 2017?
So far in 2017, the opportunities within the Insurance sector have been great. There has been an abundance of roles available, from insurers to brokers and much more. The applications, in general, have also become of a much higher calibre, which is great to see. An impressive 25% of applications have come from applications across varying jobs boards, including the Heat website.
What do you think will happen for the rest of 2017 going into 2018?
Everything is looking very positive for the rest of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. It will continue to speed up and our 3rd to 4th quarter will most likely out perform the 1st quarter (this is our usual trend). So all in all, we are on the right tracks to finishing the year off positively.
Do you foresee any major changes in Insurance in the next couple of years that will affect training and recruitment in the sector?
Brexit hasn’t had a huge impact on the Insurance sector at the moment, therefore we don’t currently predict any drastic changes over the next couple of years. In our present situation, we are continuing to improve applications and are beating previous targets. As a team, we feel as though we are always improving and ensuring that we are keeping up with any changes. We also believe that our trainees are doing exceedingly well within all sectors, including Insurance. So, we’ll have to wait and see how Brexit may affect us!
How much opportunity is there in Insurance to keep training and gaining new qualifications?
There are always plenty of new qualifications, constantly being improved and kept up to date. Many of our clients ask for insurance qualifications, therefore, we recommend that it’s always good to have them. We feel as though graduates perform really well and succeed within the Insurance sector and we appear to be getting a lot more graduate roles opening up. Therefore its a good route to look at, as getting that first graduate job can prove rather difficult. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of candidates but we are continuing to look for other ways to find them in order to place candidates successfully. This is why we offer Insurance Trainers via Heat Training.
What would you like to see more of in the applications you receive? Is there anything that jumps out at you that makes you put someone’s application straight in the shortlist pile?
We will initially always look at a candidates experience and this jumps out to us the most. We receive a lot of applications from people who don’t have any relevant experience and unfortunately, these are not the first applications to jump into the shortlist pile. Qualifications are of course a great thing to have however these are not often considered to be the most important factor, as there is always room to learn within the job. We are very keen to see a good career history without lots of job-hopping, as well as candidates who portray loyalty and are willing to learn.
Are there any particular skills you look for when looking at someone’s CV?
Skills that we look for on an applicant’s CV are very specific to the role. If for example, we have a sales role open then we would be keen to find someone with a proven good track record, someone who is happy with KPIs, an overachiever and people with positive and committed attitudes. It is also possible for us to take someone who has a great track record within sales and place them into an insurance role, creating fewer restrictions.
What is the biggest skills gap in Insurance in 2017?
Generally, there is a shortage of graduate level people yet there doesn’t appear to be a primary skill gap. However, it would be a positive to see some more people with commercial experience. It isn’t a huge struggle to find people with this commercial experience however we do have to work a little harder to find these candidates and it can take slightly longer than other areas.
Industry Insights: Owner of Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers, James Woollam
James is Managing Director and owner of Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers. James won the Bristol Post Young Business Person of the Year award in 2016, and is actively involved with the local business community.
Hi James, tell us a bit more about your business!
Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers is an independent insurance broker and risk management advisor and has been serving its clients for over 50 years. It has sector specific expertise in areas as diverse as education, marine and property whilst also focussing on the needs of independent businesses and not for profit organisations in the wider Bristol region. Hayes Parsons believes it sets itself apart with its risk management lead approach, and determination to stay independent with a training regime which recently won it the small company of the year award at the Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle apprenticeship awards.
What have been the biggest changes in insurance over the last year?
Several challenges have presented themselves at the same time, from increasing regulation, consolidation of competitors, the increase of online companies for SME insurance and a doubling in the tax rate for insurance in the last two years. Whilst this leads to challenges, it also makes what we do all the more important for our clients.
With training, qualifications and CPD options always evolving, what do you think is the most important thing potential candidates can do to develop themselves?
Experience is a real differentiator when it comes to recruitment, and not just in the trade in which the application is being made. Travelling, charity events and work experience all provide soft skills that all employers are looking for, and can help build confidence too when presenting yourself at interview. Qualifications are important, but having a broad range of skills on show can really help as a differentiator, but at every interview the most important factor I am looking for beyond everything else is for the candidate to have the right attitude.
What would you like to see more of in the applications that you receive?
Applications often look very similar, and it then becomes difficult to see the person behind the CV. I would like to understand more of the person behind the qualifications and experience, and what makes them the person they are.
Recent reports have shown that it’s getting increasingly hard to recruit, due to the political uncertainty still surrounding Brexit, do you feel this is affecting your business, or the wider sector?
We have seen an increasing difficulty in recruiting in the South West, but this was prevalent long before Brexit. A mixture of higher employment levels generally and a lack of skills in some of the candidates available has made it hard to recruit, and has lead to us launching our award winning apprenticeship programme to teach the skills we require for the next generation.
What do you find is the most common misconception about working in your sector?
Insurance is often seen as boring. But for us no two days are the same. We often find ourselves visiting clients all over the country, being asked about issues that have never been considered before. Almost half of all businesses collapse after a major fire, and that shows how important insurance is to businesses, particularly start-ups. Getting claims paid for clients, quickly and efficiently, provides enormous satisfaction. The insurance industry is also leading the way against cyber crime, both in the risk management and insurance protection fields.
What do you feel are going to be the biggest challenges facing your sector in the next few years?
Our largest challenge is to work through the digitisation of insurance without losing the human element to what we do. Every company and individual is different, and we are currently able to bespoke every policy to the needs of the client, and be there immediately when things go wrong. We need to harness technology to make our service more efficient and cost effective, without losing what makes us a good broker in the first place – our people.
What are likely to be the most exciting developments within your Industry in the next 5 years?
The most exciting development is also our biggest challenge. Insurance is now embracing Big Data and technology to bring bespoke products quickly to the market which help people to take risk and be protected from the unknown. UK insurance can lead the way in FinTech and really disrupt traditional ways of buying and selling insurance, and it is my job to ensure Hayes Parsons is at the forefront of these changes.
What next for the Insurance Industry in 2017?
The Insurance Industry in 2017 is faced with plenty of opportunities, challenges and changes over the next 12 months. Many of these revolve around businesses taking advantage of InsurTech and Artificial Intelligence, and ensuring that business models are fit for growth. Furthermore, there is also the BIG question about what will happen post Brexit!
The Insurance Industry is one of the most influential and important parts of the UK economy. Therefore, it is encouraging when so many of our Clients have been in touch to discuss their growth and expansion plans for 2017 and beyond. Most are keen to ensure they deliver the best service possible in a very competitive market to their clients and customers.
In order to facilitate such growth, we have seen a shift in the market with many of our Clients looking to bring in entry level staff or those with less than 2 years’ experience into the industry. This has meant that training and development has been thrust to the forefront of the 2017 business strategy. Many candidates are now looking for roles with companies where they can gain CII qualifications and push their knowledge of niche insurances forward.
That said, the market for experienced hires continues to remain strong and where the candidate pool is stretched those seasoned professionals entering the job market are able to choose between a whole range of opportunities.
It is a great time to be a part of the insurance industry where long term career prospects, a good salary, plenty of career progression and personal development are all on offer. It is a competitive industry with plenty of challenges but with fantastic rewards for those prepared to go above and beyond for their clients, customers and employer.
Feel free to get in touch and have a conversation with one of our Insurance Specialist Consultants about the current job market in your area.
Looking for a Conveyancing role…no problem!
So, you’ve spent hours updating your CV, days speaking to your network and researching firms in the local area to find out which one will be a good fit for you, even longer traversing the impossible to use careers pages that law firms seem to love (or you’ve come to us to take care of these steps for you!) and you’ve managed to land yourself an interview with ‘the one’. Congratulations on making it this far, now comes the hard part. It is time to impress and ensure that all your hard work and effort pays off by landing your dream job. Here are some of our top tips to help you on your way:
KNOW YOUR STATS
Although we’re aware that different firms put a different emphasis on the importance of facts and figures, when speaking with a senior member of any business, it is important that you are able to talk confidently about numbers. A few examples of stats that you need to be clear on include the average value of your transactions, the highest transaction you’ve worked on, the average and highest number of completions you process on a weekly/monthly basis, your weekly/monthly/yearly billing figures, your highest billing month and how you have performed against any targets set. Not to say that every interviewer will ask you to disclose each of these facts in your first interview but it is important not to get caught short. Take 30 minutes to revise your stats prior to an interview, take the opportunity to bring them up before being prompted and your clarity will be sure to impress the person sitting opposite.
THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
We all look at the phrase ‘commercial awareness’ with a yawn – another cliché for recruiters and hiring managers to bulk up their job descriptions. However, particularly in the UK’s current political atmosphere, it is very likely that you’ll be asked for your thoughts on the property market and how you can stay ahead of the game. In particular, we have repeatedly heard the following question come up over the last few months, “What impact do you think Brexit will have on the UK housing market?”. Once again, preparation holds the key when dealing with questions of this sort. Though nearly everyone will have their own opinion on Brexit and other topical political matters that could affect the housing market, not everyone will back this up with facts. Ensure that you research and remain up-to-date on important topics such as, for example, the impact of the SDLT changes earlier in the year or Brexit, so that you can offer an analytical response to questions involving these matters.
You’re an expert, not an encyclopaedia. You’re not expected to know everything. On occasion, an interviewer will inform us that they are going to throw in a question that they don’t expect you to be able to answer. Real-life examples range from highly technical conveyancing questions to the capital city of obscure nations! If you get asked a question that you genuinely do not know the answer to, don’t panic. Due to the nature of the role, the interviewer wants to test how you react in a high-pressure situation when you don’t have all the information necessary to make a decision. Our main tip for this scenario is to stay calm and plan what you would say in advance if you don’t know the answer to one of the questions. Talking around the subject to explain that you understand the question whilst assuring the interviewer that you would use your initiative to research the answer in a real-time situation should suffice.
I hope that you’ve found this blog useful and that you will use these tips to perform well on the big day. Please have a look around our website for further tips on how to handle interviews and to view other current vacancies in the industry.