In days of old, many insurance careers started with a two week induction, quick tour of the office canteen, door code, printed lanyard and away you go. But times change, and in today’s digital workplace employees need to be on top of their game when it comes to live chat, phone calls, social media channels and processing new biz, admin and claims.
To progress in your career, you need qualifications and in-depth knowledge in a highly regulated market. It makes sense for employers to give staff the training and support they need too, because that builds loyalty and retention.
That’s why IE wanted to catch up with Chairman Mark Bower-Dyke and MD Crescens George from the Wiser Academy, to find out more.
IE; A three year apprenticeship plus a one-year Honours course is an interesting alternative to a conventional Uni degree. But in an era of Zoom degrees, it makes a lot more sense in some ways?
MBD; It does, for one thing it doesn’t rack up about £60K worth of student debt, so that’s a big plus for the trainee looking for a career within insurance. But frankly, the old way of hiring and training was a problem for the industry. People felt like it wasn’t a real career, as they couldn’t see a path ahead for them. By contrast the Wiser Academy route only costs £5K in your final honours year and you are getting hands-on experience in a company, probably with at least one promotion on the way.
IE; Do you think the rise of insurtech has made a career in insurance seem a bit more exciting, less staid?
MBD; The tech sector is probably worse than the traditional insurance brands as regards training. Some companies are developing solutions for problems that don’t exist, or can’t work due to regulatory concerns in particular markets. So there is arguably a greater need for in-depth training within insurtech. You have to truly understand insurance before you begin developing new products.
IE; Tell us more about the partnership with the University of Chichester.
CG; As an industry, we need to attract high calibre talent and this has been at the root of the problem in the past. Those graduates with Firsts and Honours are being fast-tracked by the big banks, Deloitte, the big name City financial players, so insurance looked like a second choice for those outstanding graduates. To change that, we need to reach out at College level and offer something that has the same B.A Hons Uni qualification, but also allows you to experience real world business; decision-making, regulatory, product development etc.
MBD; You know we just had an Ofsted rating of Outstanding and listening to the feedback got me quite emotional. You do see people starting out on a career journey that’s taking them into a well paid job, very early on as well.
CG; What you said before about insurtech is interesting because if you join a company like that it’s easy to become a pure developer. But we have a specific segment of the course that looks at how insurtech relates to the insurance market, so if you are learning about low code or platforms etc. then you are also understanding how those new products or algorithm-driven policies will fit into a regulatory framework.
The great thing for insurtechs is that they are far more likely to win new clients if it’s obvious that their staff really know the market, and how new online insurance products have to work within the rules set by regulators. As an insurtech brand, you will present as a more knowledge-driven company – that has to be an advantage when pitching.
IE; Insurance is such a diversified industry now, with so many specialisms, not just insurtech. So a degree lets you experience more and then maybe choose claims, marketing, broking, underwriting, compliance etc.?
MBD; The Wiser Academy curriculum is very broad, it does give you an insight into all those different career avenues as you learn. What we are finding is that in the second year lots of students are developing an affinity for certain sectors within the industry. The placement factor really makes a difference too.
CG; The other thing we are doing is adapting the degree course to reflect the rapid pace of change. For example a couple of years ago we had a component on blockchain, but as technology changes the market, you can develop that into a more in-depth view of digital asset insurance, in all its forms, plus the tech than underpins it.
Again, it comes back to giving insurance brands the chance to recruit staff who know the market in-depth.
IE; That also has a knock-on effect for the customer too, as they are contacting staff with compliant knowledge, who can advise them properly?
MBD; Exactly. This degree course puts the customer right at the centre of things. We are training people who will deliver the very best customer service in terms of knowledge and product regulation. That means customers are going to feel happier and are therefore far more likely to stay loyal to that brand.
CG; The end result will be more motivated staff, who can see a career, rather than just a job. Big savings on recruitment costs long term plus staff who deliver better results to the customer. That has to be a better way than the old 2-week induction.
IE; Indeed it is, thanks for your time.
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