The Millennial Workforce: Insurance Industry holds Opportunity for the App Generation
On June 15, 2015 Brian Duperreault, one of the insurance industry’s most accomplished leaders and spokesmen, addressed the Global Insurance Forum in the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. Mr. Duperreault’s subject Can We Disrupt Ourselves? focused on a distinct threat to the industry – young people think of the insurance business as dull and conservative and doesn’t offer much of a chance to make a difference.
Mr. Duperreault’s speech disclosed that a recent report found that only 5% of high school and college graduates thought a career in insurance was worth looking at. “After studying Millennials for quite a while, we know:
- They want to be team players.
- They want their careers to have purpose.
- They want to build new things that matter.
- They use social media to collaborate. They crowd-source everything from fundraising to business capital.
- They fight for worthy causes by alerting each other to things that distress them.
- They don’t see much difference between work and leisure, and don’t see the point of rigid work schedules and being tied to an office.
- They see hierarchy as an obsolete impediment to team progress. They need to get things done, and waiting for permission doesn’t strike them as sensible.”
He doesn’t believe that this list describes how the typical insurance company operates. A red flag for sure. Consider this:
Almost half of insurance professionals in the U.S. are over the age of 45.
25% of all the people working in our industry will be eligible to retire in just three years.
That means that in just five years, there will be 400,000 open positions in the U.S. alone.
“With hundreds of thousands approaching retirement in an industry that’s dismissed as boring and static, and with disruption looming on the horizon, I believe we’re staring into the jaws of a crisis,” Mr. Duperreault told the audience of global senior executives. But I, as does he, believe it’s also an opportunity to usher in new recruits and to rethink how insurance firms operate.
“Clearly, all industries are facing massive disruptions because of technology. With new models of service delivery, new categories of products and restructured value chains, society and the customer expect far more than traditional businesses can offer.
These expectations represent a potentially bleak scenario for the insurance industry because in many respects we are way behind the curve as far as technology is concerned.
And we are groping in the dark for an effective solution to attract digital natives to the industry. Digital natives are the much-discussed, much-researched Millennials. Born in the eighties and nineties, they’re the offspring of the Baby Boomers. They’re sometimes known as Echo Boomers or the App Generation.
Millennials are the most diverse generation we’ve ever had. In the U.S., 35 percent are non-white, and researchers who study generational differences say they are the most tolerant generation yet, believing everyone should be part of the community.
Recently, a report found that only 5% of high school and college graduates thought a career in insurance was worth looking at. When asked why, they said they thought the industry was dull and conservative and doesn’t offer much of a chance to make a difference.
Millennials are not only our future workforce; they’re our future customer base. And our industry, quite simply, is not prepared to attract the numbers we need, with the skills we need, to take charge of the disruption we know is coming.
It’s not all gloomy out there. Positive steps are being taken. February was Insurance Careers Month and industry leaders took center stage discussing and promoting opportunities from their personal perspectives. Watch the following YouTube videos and I expect you will agree with me that it can be an exciting business full of possibility. What more could a Millennial wish for.
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Alex Hodges has 39 years of experience in the industry with a specific interest in the international P&C business. Mr. Hodges began his career with Rollins Burdick Hunter Co in Chicago; moved to New York with the firm; then back to Chicago HQ after the acquisition of RBH by Aon. As part of Aon’s global acquisition team, Mr. Hodges moved to The Netherlands to help with the integration of Hudig-Langeveldt and Frank B. Hall in Europe, Scandinavia, United Kingdom and the Middle East. Mr. Hodges has expertise managing large multinational insurance programs.
His last position with Aon was managing an Aon-owned MGA for Kidnap, Ransom & Extortion, Workplace Violence and Political Risk. Today Mr. Hodges is the founder of Insurance Services Network and Editor of The Insurance Research Letter.