Insurance needs young talent

The insurance industry is getting old.  My apologies to many of my generational colleagues in the industry, but it’s an undeniable truth – many of us working in the insurance industry are closer to retirement than we care to admit.  While a large portion of the insurance industry workforce begins to dream of year-round golf, traveling, and pina coladas, leaders must first pave the way for new workers to fill the gaping talent hole that the baby boomer insurance generation will leave behind.  

According to one report, the industry will have 400,000 positions to fill by the year 2020.  That’s a pretty tall order which is made all the more challenging when the industry is also faced with some stigmas in the minds of young people who are considering both academic and career options.  When I talk to young people about the insurance industry as a career option, the most common initial reaction is some variant of, “I’m not interested in selling insurance.”  The challenge that must be overcome, if the industry hopes to attract sufficient young talent, is communicating the variety, stability, rigor, and reward of an insurance career. 

Over the coming weeks and months, I will write about some specific insurance career options that young people should give serious consideration.  For now, let me close with this:  I recently had the pleasure of talking with a principal of a very successful independent insurance agency in southeastern Michigan.  We talked about this very issue as he related the fact that there are probably one-fourth of the independent insurance agents who are now (or soon should be) giving serious consideration to succession plans.  He said that they need to do a much better job of communicating the opportunity for challenge, reward, and perhaps business ownership to young people.  We covered quite a bit of territory in our 90 minute conversation, but this was the most striking part of the conversation for me.  The career opportunity is significant, and insurance is so much more than just “peddling policies.”  That is a reality that I will revisit in the coming months, as I attempt to do my part to vividly communicate the scope of insurance career opportunities and get past the stereotypes and stigmas.

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