Fresh Thinking…

Crescens George, CEO of Wiser Academy, on the need for fresh thinking to develop insurance industry talent

It was good to see CII boss Sian Fisher calling for fresh thinking when it comes to talent development in our industry. Sian has done an amazing job at the CII; she has instilled new energy and purpose to the organisation and her commitment to the younger generation has boosted its reputation.

The CII’s New Generation programme is a great example of that commitment, and I am sure it will grow and develop under new leadership. I’d like to see New Gen extended from 40 this year to 100 participants or more. New Gen is great at inspiring and creating spark in young people working in insurance. It has helped them realise their potential and created platforms for them to think outside the box.

Looking ahead, there are opportunities for Jonathan Clark (Sian’s replacement) to build on the work done and bring some fresh thinking to an industry in need of new talent. The focus for fresh thinking is two-fold. Firstly in terms of how we are going to attract fresh talent into the industry, and secondly, how we nurture and grow that talent.

I believe a new approach to qualifications is needed; one which builds on the core CII curriculum, focusing on the knowledge and theory of insurance, but adding a new dimension by teaching the necessary skills and behaviours that create a new class of high performers.

The FCA is, rightly, putting more emphasis on business culture, purpose, ethics and responsible practice, and I’d like to see the CII supporting that with a broader curriculum.

Our sector will derive real value from developing people with state of the art skill sets; knowledge and theory is no longer enough in a sector that’s changing so rapidly and where the regulator is expecting rapid improvements in customer service and corporate behaviour.

The regulator’s proposals for Consumer Duty should act as a skills wake-up call to practitioners. If you want to provide good service and, for brokers, good advice, account executives need proper structured training.

Clients won’t accept advice from people without any skills-based qualifications. A patient would rightly worry if their doctor said they had learned on the job; nobody would expect to get advice from a lawyer who hadn’t passed the requisite exams that equip them to give advice.

But that’s OK in insurance broking, and I’d like to see this change, led by the CII.

For this reason, I support Sian’s call for minimum qualifications for insurance practitioners, albeit that the curriculum is widened to include skills and behaviours. For our industry to be viewed by young people as aspirational as law and accountancy we must adopt a similar approach and have entry exams.

An overhaul of how we train and develop talent is overdue in the wake of the pandemic. It is clear that all industries face a battle to attract the best talent.

I look forward to working alongside Jonathan Clark and his CII team to develop new initiatives to ensure that the next generation of insurance leaders, across all sectors in insurance, have the necessary skills and behaviours to thrive and prosper.

Apprenticeships in Insurance