Solving the talent crisis


Why do you think millennials have shown a lack of interest towards the captive insurance industry?

Dan Towle: I think its lack of awareness among our industry, rather than a lack of interest. In general terms, the insurance industry is often misunderstood. Those of us in the captive sector recognise that captive insurance provides many challenging, exciting and rewarding careers. The captive industry is growing, and captive professionals are at the forefront of helping businesses insure a rapidly evolving array of risks and benefits. This growth has created more opportunities for career advancement making it an ideal time to get into the industry. Our challenge is to better promote this sector and we all have a role in that.

Zach Finn: Are you kidding? They don’t even know what an underwriter or a broker does, let alone heard of, or understand, what a captive is or does. Our industry is so broad and operates too much in the background, such that people lack the context and information needed to make an informed career decision. Millennials are largely unaware that corporations, not-for-profits, and companies alike, need insurance, alternative forms of risk financing or even that the commercial insurance market itself exists. Look at the ‘The College Board’ website, which is a not-for-profit organisation that connects students to college success and opportunity. A review of their database reveals that there are 82 risk management and insurance programmes, 799 finance or banking programmes and 1,935 account programmes.

Our industry talent crisis is not a demand crisis, it is a marketing/perception crisis and a supply chain/educational infrastructure crisis, which is ironic for an industry that loves to dispense advice about both talent and supply chain risk management. Most millennials think a career in insurance is selling life insurance at the kitchen table or adjusting auto claims for, the increasingly annoying, Flo at Progressive.

What does the new partnership between CICA and Butler University involve?

Towle: We have committed to being an educational resource to each other. CICA will be hosting two students and their professor, Zach Finn at our conference. They will be presenting an educational panel at our conference and we will have other opportunities for our attendees to meet and learn from the students. CICA is committed to helping provide speakers to Butler and their Gamma Iota Sigma speaker series. Our shared goal is a mutually beneficial relationship that we hope will grow and evolve. We certainly hope to educate students about the types of jobs and skills needed and we hope to learn from them how we can better position these opportunities to spur their excitement about careers in captive insurance.

Finn: The ability to leverage CICA and its member’s time, talent and resources, to create new and better experiential learning opportunities for students. We also have the opportunity to speak at and attend the annual conference. Again, our industry is so broad that students want experiences that expose them to how the industry works and to as many career paths as possible. Getting students to CICA means they will see this industry real time and what it does (and students get excited about these careers once they do get that exposure), while the industry learns that risk management and insurance students exist and what they can do. Students graduating from Butler University have one of the most advanced educations in the industry and the corresponding experience needed to hit the ground running in advanced positions. So this also represents a great opportunity for the industry to establish a stable and growing pipeline of top talent for firms needing to hire.

In what ways do you think the partnership will help attract new people to the market?

Towle: We hope this will raise awareness of our industry. We know that if the students enjoy their experience with our conference and learning about our industry they will share that with their networks and social media.

Finn: By creating awareness that this market and alternative educational programmes like ours exist. Indeed, there are many middle market firms that could benefit from a captive however, because insurance and risk courses, let alone degrees, are not offered in most colleges and universities, there are vast untapped opportunities for this market, because many business professionals operating today have never even heard the word “captive” in this context before.

It has been stated that as part of the programme, CICA will sponsor several Butler students to attend the 2018 CICA International Conference. Are there any structured plans whereby students and leaders from the industry will be able to interact at the event?

Towle: Our entire conference is structured to promote interaction between attendees. We will be recognising our students at different times through the conference to assist this interaction and we will have networking times where this will be encouraged. Butler will also be presenting an educational session and I expect this to be a popular and well-attended session.

Finn: I will be there, however, we have not yet begun the planning and logistics for the event. I’m sure, like our risk management programme, this relationship will evolve over time as we learn new things and create and try new experiences. Part of what needs to be done to solve the talent crisis is to actually create much of the needed collegiate educational infrastructure from the ground up. Professional designations don’t cut it, those are very valuable, but are largely being completed by folks already in the industry. Collegiate risk management and insurance programmes are how you get new folks in the industry in the first place.

How can other people in the industry help to fill those 400,000 jobs by 2020?

Towle: When you’re speaking about the 400,000 jobs you’re reflecting the larger insurance industry. For the captive industry sector, we hope that everyone can take an active role in promoting and educating the broader marketplace about careers in captive insurance. CICA has taken an active role by announcing this partnership with Butler and developing new initiatives such as the mentorship programme announced this fall. We need to be creative about finding ways to connect industry leaders with students such as our partnership with Butler. We are very excited about this partnership and look forward to building additional opportunities with more educational institutions.

Finn: Sadly, I think it’s closer to 500,000 these days, but the industry can help by hiring and supporting existing risk management and insurance programmes. It can also get connected with Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), which is the international business fraternity for insurance, risk management and actuarial science students.

The presence of a GIS chapter in a university risk management and insurance programme is a sign of quality and industry engagement. Students want rotational experiences that will allow them to understand the industry and how it all fits together. The industry needs to create Internships and provide programmes that expose students to as much of the industry as possible. Finally, it needs to engage in outreach at the high school level and help underwrite new and existing undergrad, graduate and PhD programmes in risk management and insurance.
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Dan Towle, president of CICA and Zach Finn, professor at Butler University, discuss their new professional development partnership, which will see students learn about the variety of career opportunities in captive insurance
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