The UK has the third largest insurance and long term savings industry in the world and the largest in the EU. Henry Dyson, who spent four years in the Army, is now VP at Lockton Companies, the world’s largest privately owned insurance brokerage firm.
He says: “Insurance is an industry that very few people seem to seek out. It’s one of those that you stumble upon and keep quiet about as it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Once you find it, you want to keep it to yourself.”
As it accounts for 25% of the UK’s net worth and has significant resource requirements there are many roles available in the insurance industry. The two key roles that the industry really operates around, particularly in the London market, are Broker and Underwriter.
The Broker acts as an intermediary between the client and the insurer while the underwriter prices and evaluates each risk. The skills for broker and underwiter are very similar, the broker tends to be much more independent and operate within a much smaller team while the underwriter has more restrictions on what they are able to write and has to follow greater processes dependent on their company’s risk appetite. They must be more critical thinking and more technically aware.
“The combat between the two roles is constant, both rely on each other, and it makes for a very entertaining industry indeed.”
“I always recommend the insurance industry to anyone that I know who is leaving the forces as I feel that the industry requires our skillset and is very complementary to the work that goes on within the industry. The industry requires real interpersonal skills, the ability to build a relationship, often your business is based upon your ability to build and leverage that relationship. That takes communication skills, negotiation skills and analysis. It is a very independent industry suited to independent individuals; it rewards entrepreneurialism and is a real meritocracy. If you have ambition and you have drive, which I feel most ex-military and reservists do, have then there is a real opportunity within this industry.” says Henry.
Henry’s top tips on getting a role within the Insurance industry:
Your network is key. Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Aim to meet at least 2 or 3 people a month, so if an opportunity arises, you are at the forefront of their minds.
See every coffee/meeting you have as a potential interview. Understand what that person does, do some research on them and their company and have some have some intelligent questions to ask.
Your CV is going to get you in the door. As long as it’s got your key skills, your capabilities and your achievements listed, then its enough to be interesting and to get somebody wanting to speak to you about a role.
When I joined the Military, for the first few months I had no idea what anybody was talking about – the three letter acronyms the words that I had never heard before. It took me a while to understand the language. Once I did, I realised that it is used as a way of belonging and guarding knowledge. It was the same in the Insurance industry. To that end, if you can speak the language, if you can pick up a few of the colloquiums, if you are able to ask intelligent questions using words from within the industry, then, very quickly people will accept you. If you can start to read industry materials, you are more likely to understand what people are talking about. So when you do have a coffee with that person from the industry you will have put yourself in a position where you will have gained a lot more from it.
Listen to the webinar: How to make it in The City an insider view from the Insurance World