How to future-proof the insurance broking profession

The future of work in Australia and its workforce is facing dramatic change driven by technology, globalization, demographics, social values, and the changing personal expectations of workforce participants.

The 2018 NIBA Broker of the Year, Kim Gilbert from Zenith Insurance Services says, “One of the biggest single issues confronting our profession will be attracting and retaining suitable employees and they will come from very diverse backgrounds, with different and unique skills which will most likely be very different to the skillsets of today.”

The future of work is an important topic for broking professionals to consider because the technology is changing, disrupting and in places killing roles, organisations and industries. In 2018 and the insurance industry remains one of the most non-diverse industries in Australia. 80 per cent of employees come from an Anglo-Saxon cultural background, 82 per cent of employees speak only English and 65 per cent of leaders are male. (Macquarie Bank Snapshot survey 2017)

“We need to know how to future-proof our organisations and profession if we want to experience continued success,” says Gilbert. Demographic upheavals have made the Australian workforce both younger and older, as well as more gender and culturally diverse. Companies are struggling to understand of whom (and what) their workforces are composed and how to manage today’s incredibly varied combination of worker types.

The average insurance broking client today is very different from the past and the broking profession needs to focus on what the workplace will look like in the next couple of decades. Gilbert explains, “As insurance professionals, brokers are interacting and providing advice and services to all members of our community and we therefore need to be conscious of, and accepting of the diverse nature of all members of our community including employees as well as clients.”

The war for talent, digital disruption of the insurance industry, increased competition, consumer expectation and technology advancements all mean that it’s more important than ever that the industry stay relevant.

“As the Australian insurance consumer market continues to change at an ever-increasing pace, we as service providers need to continue to expand our workforce to enable us to meet market/consumer expectations and lead to better decision making within our industry,” says Gilbert.

Across all organizations, industries, and geographies, a new work and social contract is emerging. New regulations that mandate pay for overtime, increase the minimum wage, and tighten rules for part-time status are becoming more important than ever, with a growing public policy debate over how to regulate and measure new labour models.

Gilbert concedes that the insurance industry has traditionally been slow to embrace change particularly when it comes to employment practices however, he says, “I do believe the industry needs to embrace change quickly, it is moving in the right direction and is looking to become more diverse through the employment of individuals from all walks of life.”