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LeadHER highlights hot topics that impact women in the profession, the latest WIFS news, and important industry updates. We invite our members and industry thought leaders to submit articles to be featured in upcoming monthly LeadHER blog posts. Please email office@wifsnational.org if you're interested in providing an article that aligns with the following topics:

November 2019

Two Critical Steps to Recruiting—and Retaining—Young RMI Professionals
By Mary Ann Cook, SVP Knowledge Resources, The Institutes, and Executive Director, American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA)

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In the risk management and insurance (RMI) field, finding and recruiting the right talent is a bit like hunting a mythical creature. Legend has it applicants with the right skills and interest in RMI exist, but sightings are few and far between. With a quarter of insurance professionals less than 10 years from retirement, the much-publicized talent gap in the insurance sector has put considerable focus on the need to seek out that elusive talent early in their careers and on college campuses. Stereotypes, and even some surveys, suggest that college students and young people aren’t interested in RMI jobs. In my own research, the preliminary results suggest the exact opposite. Talented, eager and engaged future insurance professionals are right in front of us. We just have to know where to look. From there, it’s a two-step process to helping them launch and maintain an RMI career. 

Step 1: Show Them What the Industry Looks Like

After a 20-year career focused on insurance knowledge and education, I’ve undertaken doctoral work studying what gets young people interested in RMI and how organizations can recruit and retain talented individuals. Many of my early results counter the stereotypes about millennial workers today and what drives them to consider RMI careers. Conventional wisdom says many people are drawn to insurance careers because a parent, family member or family friend is in the business. Or, once they enter college with no clear focus on a major, other RMI majors convince them to take a class or learn more about the industry, ultimately swaying them to study insurance. What I’m hearing from young professionals today is that those aren’t the driving factors. 

My early findings indicate that employers—exposure to industry pros—play one of the largest roles in building student interest in the world of RMI. Formal and informal interactions with insurance organizations and related representatives both in and outside the classroom are hugely influential. Those interactions can take several forms:

  • Classes taught by faculty members who work in the industry
  • Faculty who included industry-recognized content in their curriculum
  • Events with Gamma Iota Sigma, the fraternity for RMI and actuarial students
  • Internships with RMI organizations
  • Career fairs, speaker series and other events where students are exposed to RMI organizations

There’s a clear opportunity for RMI organizations and leaders to get involved earlier in the recruitment pipeline. Individuals who are excited about new job titles and technologies in the RMI field are spreading their enthusiasm. Making your presence known on college campuses and selling what makes RMI an engaging and promising field can help guide students still deciding on a career to the insurance industry. 

Step 2: Present a Clear Career Path

Once these young professionals join the RMI world and find their first jobs, I’ve found employers understand that the key to retention is investing in employees. They’re working to up the “stickiness” factor of the RMI industry. Many recent hires are receiving educational perks that many people assumed had gone extinct in today’s workplace, especially if a business case can be made for that investment: the “upskilling return on investment (ROI).” Employers are encouraging students to pursue additional accreditations and certifications and are supporting those efforts by:

  • Paying for study materials
  • Reimbursing exam fees
  • Allotting time during work hours to study
  • Paying incentives for completing designations

In return, these organizations are getting loyalty from millennials with a reputation for job hopping and switching careers. But deeper conversations reveal that the engagement here goes beyond financial incentives. By supporting professional development and education, employers are showing a long-term commitment to their new hires.  According to the young professionals I have talked with, employers are investing in them and offering a clear vision of what their career can look like at the organization. Recent hires learning technical and managerial skills are eager to take on more responsibility and define their niche. They have an idea of where they’re headed and feel supported in getting there. That Path Must Go All the Way to the C-Suite—Particularly for Women Many organizations are clearly defining a long-term career path, especially for younger staff members. But as employees rise through the ranks, they still want to see advancement opportunities. My findings show that employees value official designations, but they also value peer-to-peer training, mentorships and reverse mentorships. To address this, some employers, will need to take a hard look at company culture and leadership demographics. 

In 2017, less than 20 percent of senior leaders at insurance firms were women, according to research from St. Joseph’s University. For young women and a generation of workers increasingly focused on diversity and gender equality, this statistic will continue to hinder efforts to bring the best and brightest to our industry. Despite lingering stereotypes, my research suggests employers are waking up to the power of education and selling the benefits of our rapidly changing industry to young professionals. There’s still work to be done in demonstrating a long-term and successful career path, particularly for women. But we’re spotting more and more talented, career-driven RMI professionals in the wild and successfully helping them launch meaningful careers in our industry.

© 2019 Women in Insurance and Financial Services. All Rights Reserved.

By Sara Benton, CFP®, ChFC®, Financial Planner, Prudential Advisors

As I think of this time of year, a new school year is starting for students everywhere, those that had graduated are starting off on their new adventures and there’s a new class at the top leading the way. This same cycle takes place in companies and offices across our nation.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers in 2019. With more Baby Boomers retiring each year, the next generation of leadership in the workplace will need to step into their new leadership roles relatively soon. The first thing I think of is the timing of this evolution. The next generation needs to gain the experience and knowledge and they need to do it quickly. With that said, this next generation has many more tools and resources than the previous leadership generation had. Workplace education, mentorship programs, seminars and symposiums are all resources that the next generation has at their fingertips to propel them into this new leadership role.

Read the complete article here.

By Nicole Dupuis, Director of Foundational Training at Forest Hills Financial Group

What you don’t often hear is without great power, what do you get? Well, having been in past positions where I had very little power — power to make changes, power to voice concerns and ideas, power to move to another level — I can tell you that as people expect less from you, you begin to expect less from yourself. In other words, with little power comes a small amount of responsibility. People around you don’t expect anything out of the ordinary from you, partly because you don’t expect it either.

Read the complete article here.

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For more than 80 years, WIFS has been committed to attracting, developing and advancing women in the insurance and financial services profession. Members, partners, exhibitors and sponsors benefit from connection and mutual respect for professional development and education-focused interaction rather than career opportunity promotion.