Getting into an insurance job in the Lloyds or London market has often been as much about who you know as what you know, with family and friends’ connections helping secure a position on the first rung of the career ladder.
Once you’ve gained a role, on-the-job training was the preferred method of bringing employees up to speed with the skills needed to succeed. This is proving inadequate – nearly 90% of London market firms surveyed by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) last year cited a skills shortage as being detrimental to their business. What’s more, increased competition for staff from Singapore, India and the Gulf meant that London was in danger of being left behind.
Finally, something is being done about it. There’s been a concerted push by Lloyds and London insurance firms this year to put their employees through professional training. And, once a critical mass of people have been put through the qualifications by their employer, other insurance professionals are taking it upon themselves to skill up.
“Employers need to ensure that their staff have the skills and knowledge to compete effectively,” says David Thomson - director of policy and public affairs at the CII. “This is manifesting itself in a cultural shift with an increased focus on professional development, of which qualifications is a key component. Increasing numbers of Lloyd’s syndicates are making the holding of qualifications, in particular the Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII), or progression towards the same, a condition of career advancement.”
If you wanted to go even further down the qualifications route, there’s also the Fellowship Qualification, which requires the ACII to be combined with three years of professional development and a distance learning programme on business ethics. Also, the Award in London Market Insurance was launched last October, and has had 2,500 entrants since.
Recruiters tell us that increasingly Lloyds and London insurance firms are putting these qualifications as a prerequisite in most job roles – something unheard of even 12 months ago.
Essentially, with the job market becoming increasingly competitive, taking a formal qualification allows you to stand out from the “mass of insurance practitioners”, says Thomson.