Canadian Underwriter

Now that we’ve got Millennials working in the P&C industry, how do we keep them?

September 12, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Despite research showing that Millennials now make up the largest generational cohort in Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry, the industry still has some work to do to keep Millennials engaged once they’ve made the jump into the profession, according to Jeff McCann, co-founder and CEO of Apollo Exchange.

“So many job postings are for ‘processors’ or ‘data-entry specialists,’ which aren’t going to be attractive to the technology-native Millennials [those born between 1981 and 1995] or Generation Zs [born after 1995] as they graduate from college and university programs,” McCann told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday. “Those tasks should be automated, so this highly-educated generation can focus on high-skill, expertise-driven work.”

Mundane, low-engagement jobs such as data entry for bordereau or certificate generation aren’t attractive, McCann said. “The hard part is, 4% of Millennials are interested in an insurance career,” he said last month at the Executive Forum. “That’s bad. That’s real bad. This is a brand perception problem for the industry, and in turn each company, be that a brokerage or insurer.”

How can this perception change? By adopting value-oriented brands, mentorship and engagement programs, and technology-driven business opportunities, McCann said.

According to a 2015 Millennial leadership survey from U.S.-based insurer The Hartford, only 4% of Millennials see insurance as an appealing industry. Contrast this with 40% of Millennials who said they want to work in arts and entertainment, 36% who targeted education as a career, and 36% who saw technology as a desirable career option.

One-quarter of the country’s P&C industry workforce is expected to retire over the coming decade, with most of these retirements expected over the next five years, according to a Canadian P&C industry demographics report released last year by The Insurance Institute of Canada.

“Those people are not just leaving, they are leaving with everything they know,” McCann said at the conference. “It’s not written down anywhere, it’s not documented. It might be in a paper file, but you can’t search it.”

Although Baby Boomers are retiring, Millennials are taking their places – and these young workers now account for the biggest demographic cohort in the Canadian P&C industry. The industry’s demographic profile has changed significantly between 2007 and 2017, even in the past five years, the Institute’s study shows. In 2007, Millennials accounted for just 12% of the industry; that increased to 27% in 2012 and 39% in 2017.

In the context of today’s tightening market environment, demographic change seems to have slipped down the list of broker challenges. In Canadian Underwriter‘s upcoming 2019 National Broker Survey, 24% of more than 200 brokers polled said that demographic change presented a strong challenge to the broker channel, down from 33% in 2018.

One key factor affecting the P&C industry in Canada is technologically-driven change. Driven by innovations in telematics, robotic process automation and other digital technologies, aspects of the industry – from business models to workforce requirements – are being redefined, the demographic report said.

“You now have to train, support, onboard, iterate and deal with frustrations of this mesh point between technology and people,” McCann added. “It’s not a technology problem, it’s easy-to-build tech. It’s a people problem, and a brand problem for us as an industry and for us individually.”

Another issue is that in today’s hard market environment, “nobody who’s a Millennial has been through this,” McCann said. “We’re not just talking about getting quotes that are 30% to 50% more expensive, we’re talking about not being able to place coverage.”

How does a broker have those hard conversations with the consumer?

“That’s going to take education from the experts in this room and the people at the top to spend that time teaching, onboarding and maintaining relationships with young employees who are going to be the future of the organization,” said McCann. “And on the day-to-day, [the Millennials are] the ones who have to answer the phone.”

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