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Insurance Broker

Insurance Broker

Tell me about it
Insurance brokers are independent advisers, helping clients to choose the insurance product or products most appropriate to their present and/or future needs. Also known as intermediaries, they are the link between insurance companies and customers.
Brokers use their knowledge and experience to assess a client’s risk profile and find appropriate policies from several hundred insurers in the industry, searching for the most comprehensive cover at the most competitive price.

Brokers deal with a great range of cases, from simple ones, such as car insurance, where an immediate quotation can be given, to relatively complex cases. In the case of commercial insurance, they may need to provide reports to insurance underwriters, carry out surveys and negotiate with underwriters for cover. Their contacts could include Lloyd's, a London market consisting of individuals or syndicates offering insurance cover, but not all brokers are authorised to do this.

This is a highly regulated industry and insurance brokers are required to put the interests of their client first. They may also help clients resolve claims, processing paperwork and negotiating settlements with the insurer. This can lead into a specialised role as a claims broker.

Entry level
People join broking firms with a variety of different academic backgrounds. Many organisations prefer at least two A levels and GCSEs (A*-C/1-3) in English and maths, although there are no formal entry requirements for insurance brokers. Greater emphasis is placed on individual characteristics, particularly communication skills.

If you choose to take a degree, one of the following subjects might increase your chances: accounting/finance, business/management, economics, mathematics or statistics.

Making the grade
Training is usually undertaken on the job, with trainees working under the supervision of a senior broker or team leader. Large brokers have structured training schemes, giving new entrants experience of different areas of work over a period of 18 months to two years.

In order to gain promotion, you would find it useful and in some cases essential to take examinations set by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) or the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA). The CII Broker Academy, for example, is a ‘one stop shop’ training and development facility for insurance brokers, offering qualifications, learning and revision materials, access to face-to-face training, online learning and assessment facilities, together with membership of the CII and its dedicated Faculty of Broking. If you deal with complex and specialist risks in the London Insurance Market (sometimes known as being a 'Lloyd's broker'), you should pass the CII's Lloyd’s and London Market Introductory Test (LLMIT). The development of regulation under the Financial Services Authority has greatly increased the importance of appropriate qualifications and continuing professional development.
As your career develops, progression might be possible into a managerial position, managing a team of brokers or even several branches of a division.

Personal qualities
Personal attributes are important for a career in insurance broking. Some employers prefer applicants to be more mature with relevant experience, as this is a service driven industry.

To succeed as an insurance broker, you must be scrupulously honest and discreet, both with clients and with other professionals. You would need excellent communication and IT skills, together with the ability to gather and absorb information quickly.

You must be numerate in order to understand and work with statistics, and you must keep up to date with changes in the insurance market.

Looking ahead
Broking firms vary widely in size and type. The largest brokers tend to be international companies, negotiating cover on a global basis. Their clients can range from individuals to small businesses, right up to multinational companies with global offices and assets worth millions of pounds.

The larger brokers generally have different divisions with teams specialising in different risks, including commercial property, marine, aviation, political risks and casualty. Smaller brokers often require a more general knowledge of products and services, enabling them to act as a surveyor, loss adjuster, underwriter, negotiator and sales adviser. Some also service dedicated sectors, such as charities or the public sector.

Insurance broking can be quite a volatile sector of employment, evolving constantly through acquisitions and mergers. Legislative developments and changes in the economy can place specialist brokers in high demand, particularly in areas like political risk, construction, claims and commercial property insurance.

Currently, there is a greater need for specialisation and technical competence, creating better opportunities for graduates with the required skills.

Employment with the larger brokers tends to be centred near investment institutions in the larger cities, although brokers are also employed in regional offices. Smaller practices are spread countrywide. Prospects are good for those keen to advance, although competition for graduate placements can be high.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include accountant, banker, financial adviser or insurance underwriter.

Take-home pay
You could expect to earn around £18,000 to £25,000 as a graduate trainee. Salaries may be performance-related and can vary significantly depending on the size and nature of the firm. With a few years' experience, you should be earning in the range £40,000 to £60,000. At the top end of the scale, a top broker in the City of London could earn well over £100,000. Additional benefits can include a company car, private medical insurance and pension scheme, often non-contributory.

Effects
Normal hours of work are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and sometimes Saturday for high street brokers.

The work can be stressful because of the number of clients you may be dealing with and the strict deadlines imposed. It is often possible to work part time.

Sources of information
Chartered Insurance Institute: www.cii.co.uk
Discover Risk: www.discoverrisk.co.uk
Financial Services Authority: www.fsa.gov.uk
Financial Skills Partnership: www.fssc.org.uk
Association of British Insurers: www.abi.org.uk
British Insurance Brokers’ Association: www.biba.org.uk
Ifs School of Finance: www.ifslearning.com
Lloyd's of London: www.lloyds.com





 

 

 

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