Mixing it up with the millennials

Are you sick of hearing and reading about millennials yet? It seems that every conference I go to lately there is a session where a panel of 50-something white men mull over how these youngsters are going to save their businesses – once they’ve worked out how to market and sell to them. Ditto webinars and articles. They do very much seem to be flavour of the month.

I bring this up because at the end of September, I spent four out of a five-day working week fraternising with this attractive demographic by way of events for both Insurance POST and Insurance Age.

Across three days in Manchester, London and on Skype, I interviewed candidates for the fifth season of the video series Broker Apprentice, who all firmly fell into the ‘M’ category. On the fourth day, I chaired a session about talent recruitment at the Claims Club Summit, called ‘Are claims managers the new farmers?’

So what did I take away from all this for the sector I work in?

Firstly, everyone still falls into insurance, even millennials. Whether it is the zoologist who turned his back on his dream job at the Natural History Museum because his colleagues would not shut up about beetles or the failed trapeze artiste, only one person I met chose insurance – and that may have been because their dad owned the firm they now work for.

Secondly, all of them – bar the zoologist – love their job. Indeed, I could have played excitable cliché bingo with the responses from these youngsters when it came to how much they enjoy what they do now. Thirdly, they were all doing, or had done, insurance-related qualifications and are in tune with how important it is to better themselves as professional employees.

Finally, they accepted insurance might have an issue with its external reputation, but the terms ‘best kept [employment] secret’ came up more than once to describe what they thought of the industry they now work in.

The issue of how insurance can become more attractive to the best recruits and improve its reputational standing is as old – indeed, a lot older – than the millennials I have been chatting with. So it was interesting to hear their take on how things could be improved.

One seemed aggrieved that six-year-olds are taught about the value of saving and banking basics, but risk management and protection is never on the agenda. Another noted how children are exposed to law and accountancy/economics qualifications at secondary school and university, yet equivalent courses from the likes of the Chartered Insurance Institute only appear as an option once people have ‘fallen’ into the sector.

In demand

Finally, it was interesting to hear the millennials accept that while the majority of them might be more digitally savvy and consume information in a different way, they are not a homogenous group by any means. However, they are an in-demand and attractive sector, and as it is with insurers, so it is with publishing – our future depends on them engaging with our products and brands.

As such, it was good to meet so many millennials in a week, as it gave me a chance to chat with them about things relevant to Insurance POST and Insurance Age, such as how they consume content and market intelligence, as well as the bog-standard insurance stuff.

We will be following this up with an advisory group made up of some of these and other rising stars. I look forward to speaking with them further.

Jonathan Swift 100x115

Jonathan Swift @InsuranceSwifty


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