INSURING YOUR FUTURE
If you are contemplating a career in finance, but have never considered Insurance, maybe it’s time to start doing so now. This is an area with a very steady future and is a place you really can make big bucks.
Insurance is one of the UK’s most important service industries and employs around 250,000 people. It also generated half of Britain’s invisible export earnings in the last five years, and yet it suffers from having one of the lower profiles in the finance industry. Colin Anthony is the Technical Pricing Manager at Zurich Insurance, and he says: ‘I think insurance is one area in finance that isn’t necessarily perceived as well as some of the others. Because it is such a generalised industry, it does get overshadowed by investment banking and other areas, and that is something we need to address.’
Although generalised, there are three principle areas in insurance work: Life Insurance, General Insurance, and Reinsurance.
Life Insurance is concerned with insuring people against premature death or permanent injury. Pensions and long-term investments contracts fall within the life category. General Insurance provides protection against damage to property, personal injury and liabilities. Reinsurance is where insurers spread their risk by taking on their own insurance against claims. This spreading of risks accounts for a large proportion of the business which comes into the UK every year, and represents a growing area of insurance activity.
‘People traditionally looked at Insurance as quite boring,’ says Colin, ‘but the important thing is to realise the complexity of the products we are selling is enormous. What it provides is a real challenge to even the most mathematically-minded and intelligent individuals, because of its complexity.’ Colin says this makes it a very exciting and vibrant area to work in. ‘I’ve been in the industry 11 years and I still learn everyday, and because you have a constantly changing environment you have to keep up with what is going on in the legal world, with the weather and climate change, mortality rates, improving health. There is so much you have to keep up-to-date with it is an ever-changing environment, and that is what makes it a challenge. You have to apply mathematical, analytical, and statistical techniques to solve the problems you are faced with in making the uncertain more certain. That’s the challenge we face in the industry and it makes it very exciting.’
Because the external factors can change from day-to-day, so too, can the products on offer. This certainly keeps your brain alert and is why the sector needs top class graduate recruits in order to survive. As Colin explains: ‘It can be a very steady job as it offers a good, strong career — everybody needs insurance! If you can build on your knowledge you’ve got a career for a long time. Working for a global insurance company like Zurich is one of the huge selling points of jobs in this sector because you could end up all over the world. Some of my colleagues have worked in China, Switzerland, America, and South Africa. In that respect you have the opportunity not just to move upwards, but to experience different competitive environments, cultures and problems. If you are working in the pricing side of the insurance industry you have to know so much about the whole process, if you are talented you can move around the world and be effective and add a lot of value.’
It can also be a very lucrative career with both underwriters and actuaries working in Insurance having the potential to earn upwards of six figures. However, you will need specialised skills to get on. You need to understand claims costs, investment, and all the legislative implications to make a success of this career. Insurance crosses all skill sets so you also need more people skills, fantastic communication skills and to be very personable, and commercially aware. Colin says the work/life balance in Insurance is pretty good, with a 35 hour week as standard, although there may be times when you need to work longer hours. However, overall, he says he enjoys everything about his job. ‘I really do love my job, Mondays are quite hard sometimes but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to hate my job. The fact I can come in with a huge amount of experience, and a huge amount of knowledge, and yet still be learning every day from a management point of view, or a technical point of view, that’s what makes it exciting. It’s the fact you always have that challenge and that will never stop. I’m lucky enough that I have found something I really do enjoy.’
For more information go to Chartered Insurers Institute www.cii.co.uk