Canadian Underwriter
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Career Mapping

Survey data indicates that more than three in four employees think there are good opportunities in the property and casualty industry, but more than one in four p&c professionals who left their jobs went into a different industry.


January 2, 2017   by Peter Hohman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Institute of Canada


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Canada’s property and casualty industry has taken great strides in recruiting new insurance professionals in the fold, and career mapping is a way to help keep them there.

“When we say career mapping, we’re talking about information to help people identify where they are in their career, see how they are performing in their current role, and whether their knowledge and skills fit a role they may be considering for the future,” says Margaret Parent, director of the Insurance Institute of Canada’s professionals’ division.

Career advancement is a significant factor in some of the “churn” witnessed in Canada’s p&c industry over the past five years, as discussed in the institute’s most recent industry demographics data.

The data is based on a survey of 26 p&c industry human resource (HR) professionals, representing companies with an average of between 100 and 500 employees. It also includes a study of more than 4,000 p&c insurance employees.

Peter Hohman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Institute of Canada

Overall, 75% of polled employees rated the opportunity for career advancement within the p&c industry as either excellent or good. However, about one-third said they planned to leave their current employer within the next five years. Career advancement ranked second among their Top 5 reasons for leaving (higher compensation topped the list).

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADJUSTERS

For HR professionals, the most urgent priority is to recruit and retain employees. Within the claims area specifically, they are looking for accident benefits adjusters and casualty adjusters.

One way to retain p&c professionals within their organizations – and the p&c industry generally – is to recognize that not every career path moves vertically or in a straight line. Within a claims organization, for example, options exist for claims adjusters to skip from one career path to another within the same organization.

“There are different lines or specialties within adjusting,” comments Tammie Norn, founder of ProFormance Group Insurance Solutions Inc. and now chair with The Executive Committee (TEC Canada).

“Just like underwriters underwrite different policies, and brokers sell different policies, you adjust claims on different policies. It’s very typical for an adjuster’s training ground to be in auto physical damage claims or personal lines property claims,” Norn reports.

“But from there, if they want to specialize or work on different types of claims, they need to understand all of the options,” she adds.

Insurance professionals handle a wide variety of claims, creating opportunities for different types of adjusting, Norn observes. “Adjusters could specialize in transportation, energy, cyber, sports and entertainment – the options are endless. If adjusters want to pursue a different line within their organizations, they should find out what their training programs look like and whether their companies handle the kind of business in which they are looking to specialize.”

LEAVING THE INDUSTRY

Current roles are likely to change in the future, making career mapping that much more important, says Pat Van Bakel, president and chief executive officer of Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.

“If you think about disruption, most of us in insurance have a pretty good sense or appreciation of the amount of change coming our way,” Van Bakel says. “It’s good timing to have career mapping tools for people who are potentially in roles that are going to change pretty significantly in the years to come. Career mapping won’t leave them sitting there like deer in the headlights.”

From the industry’s standpoint, the least desirable outcome is for a frustrated p&c professional to bail out of the insurance industry altogether.

Half of the HR reps surveyed reported that they had lost between one and 49 employees through voluntary exit over the past two years. On average, 27% of p&c employees who voluntarily left and found employment elsewhere wound up in a different industry.

“If p&c professionals are reconsidering their current roles, or not feeling challenged, they don’t immediately think, ‘Where else can I go within this company?'” says Darlene Diplock, regional sales development manager for Canada at HUB International.

“If they are not happy, their first instinct may be to look outside the existing company, which, unfortunately, is often outside the industry. I am frustrated when that happens because there are often other positions available within the same company – or, for sure, in the industry – that would fit their current skills and future career aspirations,” Diplock points out.

Examples of possible shifts within a p&c organization include the following:

  • telephone claims adjusters wishing to explore a specialty such as accident benefits or wanting to take on a new role as a team lead;
  • brokers in customer support roles looking to evolve their careers by becoming more sales-focused as producers;
  • junior underwriters ready to take on increased authority for writing higher premium limits and more complex coverages within their companies; and
  • new entrants to the industry thinking about how best to build their insurance knowledge or a future career plan.

Career mapping identifies a comprehensive spectrum of options available for p&c professionals looking for their next career challenge, one reason the institute has expanded company access to career mapping with the launch of mycareer, a free online resource.

LEADERSHIP PATHS

The resource contains information about skills and knowledge to help p&c professionals succeed within 12 different industry roles – including claims investigators, loss control specialists, loss adjusters, brokers/agents (distinguished between sales and service roles), underwriters, risk managers, actuaries, appraisers and business development specialists. The site also explores two leadership paths, namely people management and technical management.

Within each role, insurance professionals can map a path through four progressive career phases. Claims professionals, for example, can see the core skills, knowledge and experience required of claims investigators to move from the early “foundational” part of their career to the “mastery” level.

There is also a summary of attitudes and core values, leadership competencies, mentoring and industry engagement opportunities at each phase.

The new website resource is designed to “help focus career conversations between insurance professionals and their managers or HR representatives, so that employees can figure out their next career move within their organizations,” Parent suggests.

“We look at it as another tool in the arsenal to unlock a person’s potential or talent, by bringing some of those career conversations to the surface,” Van Bakel comments.

Peter Hohman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Institute of Canada