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What insurance professionals of the future need to know now


Bobbie Mansfield

by Bobbie Mansfield

Last week I attended the ABI’s event, held jointly with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, “Fit for the Future: Can Insurance Keep up?” It was thoroughly enjoyable, delving deep into a panel discussion on what decisions we could all make that result in more positive business and social change for the future. Paul Jardine, XL Catlin, set the scene with a focus on talent and technology; sparking a popular discussion with questions both from the audience (through the live polling software sli.do) and the chair, Ola Jacob Raji, NGIN and Alesco. Many comments inspired me and my peers at the young professionals event. Below are 5 highlights:

The jobs of the future will be different

If there was one clear message from the evening, it was that things will not continue in insurance as they have for the last 300+ years including the disruption of jobs. The projections of artificial intelligence overtaking human jobs are well-known, but the panel offered a more illuminating perspective. Insurance jobs will increasingly be held by those with technology backgrounds and expertise and ‘underwriting is not going to lead the industry’, offered Stephanie Ogden at Allianz. This being said, the panel agreed that emotional intelligence, involving creating personal connections and stakeholder management will gain more prominence and attention in a more automated world.

We are not moving fast enough on diversity

There was good acknowledgement of the efforts across the industry to get better at diversity and inclusion, but the audience murmured agreement when the panel suggested that we are moving too slow. What was at stake was clear - the best talent will vote with their feet. Adrian Matthews from MetlLife summed up the sentiment in the room when he commented that our 300+ year old industry won’t be around for another 300 years if it doesn’t get better at diversity. I spoke with many people at the networking reception who are doing great work in their firms and as part of industry-wide networks. My takeaway was that all of this work needs to continue with younger professionals being bold and proactive in challenging existing ways of doing things, where they can be done better.

A focus on the customer will win

Bringing her experience working with start-ups, Sabine VanderLinden from Startupbootcamp explained how a lot of the new ideas set to disrupt the industry are characterised by engagement with the customer that doesn’t even mention “insurance”. In fact, this disruption doesn’t always fit neatly into the ‘insurtech’ box, with tech innovation of all types having the potential exploit an insurance offering. The need then, for the industry, is to evolve our thinking from products toward propositions. The key to success is to start with the customer need and work back.

Have a personal plan and be prepared to flex it

Developing professionals are always told to have a personal plan but the panellists’ stories of career changing setbacks highlighted that things don’t always go to plan. Resilience then, came out as an important attribute, particularly in a fast changing industry where it can be difficult to plan where the next opportunity may come from. 

Just do it

Ending on an empowering note, the panellist told an audience of those in the business of risk to take more risks. Noble failure was good and certainly what successful start-ups from Sabine’s accelerator programme embrace. The point was brought home when Stephanie, who took what she called an unpopular risk to leave London for Glasgow, concluded she would not have had the opportunity to lead a large team had she not been prepared to move.


Finally, I had the privilege to end the event with a pitch on the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation. I was very motivated by the panelists’ stories, but there are many young people in the UK who do not have the opportunities I do to reach their full potential. The IICF UK combines the insurance industry with charitable giving. We support nominated charities, that improve social mobility, making a larger impact due to the collective efforts of an entire industry. Find out more on what we offer for our insurance colleagues and in turn the grants and volunteer services for charities on our website: www.iicf.org.uk

Last updated 25/07/2017