Category Archives: Education

Dr. Bob’s Dos and Don’ts for Successful College Recruiting

By Robert P. Hartwig, PhD, CPCU 

As part of our Insurance Careers Month series, guest blogger Dr. Robert Hartwig gives us his best tips for successful college recruiting.

 

TOP 5 “DOS”

    1.  Articulate a Career Path

  • Students want to see opportunities for career advancement and that you’re planning to make an investment in them.
  • Suggestion: Include an experienced employee on recruiting trips (5-15 years of experience, though not necessarily all with the recruiting company), not just HR people.  Students can identify better with these individuals and experienced employees can share their personal experiences and career paths.  Students love this.

    2. Get an Early Start

  • With the unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent (2.6 percent for college graduates), the best students are getting jobs sooner and sooner.  Top students now have multiple strong offers in September of their senior year. By December, the “cream of the crop” has been recruited.
  • Get into classrooms!  Career fairs can be a zoo.  Getting into the classroom, usually when students are juniors and first-semester seniors can be very effective for recruitment of new grads as well as interns.


    3. Institute a Formal Training Program for New Hires

  • Students want to hit the ground running and a formal training program after hiring is one of the best ways to quickly acclimate new hires to their new work environment while also making them feel welcome and comfortable with their new duties as co-workers.


    4. Institute an Internship Program

  • Many employers today have internship programs, but not all.  An internship program—even if very small—gives you a leg up on recruiting and many of the top students accept positions with a company with whom they interned.

     5. Support RMI Education—Consistently

  • Students who major in RMI are already indicating an interest in an RMI career.
  • Support RMI programs and education through scholarships, internships, targeted contributions to a university’s RMI program, executive visits to classrooms, participation by industry executives in courses taught partly by faculty and partly by the executive (e.g., one week).  A larger step would include endowing a faculty chair or professorship dedicated to the study of RMI, which would then bear the name of that company.
  • Get to know a professor or two!  Nobody knows these students better.  This will give you an edge in recruiting new hires and interns.  This relationship can also help you get into classrooms when students are making key decisions related to careers and employers.

TOP 3 “DON’TS”

    1.  Don’t Fail to Recognize that Students Will Hedge Their Bets with RMI-Industry Recruiters

  • You’re not recruiting in a vacuum. Most business school students double major and will have had two internships.  In today’s tight job market, understand that you’re not just in competition with other insurers and brokers, you’re in competition with banks, investment banks, accounting and consulting firms, pension funds, investment advisory firms and increasingly technology firm—and many more.     

2. Don’t Pigeon Hole Students

  • Limiting entry level hires to a claims and underwriting track is costing you quality talent.  Consider more direct hiring into Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Data Analytics and other functions.  Exposing students to the core underwriting and claims functions is critical to learning the business, but if the student’s major (or second major or minor) was in another discipline, the attraction of a competing offer from a bank, investment firm, accounting firm or consulting firm may be too much to resist.  Help them apply and channel their skills, talents and interests while also training them in the “art” of insurance.

    3.  Don’t Be Parochial

  • An astounding number of insurers—even large ones—don’t look too far beyond their headquarters or primary bases of operation for talent.  This is true both for internships and entry level positions.  There is sometimes a bias to recruit at local universities (perhaps because it is easier and less expensive to do so) which can lead (inadvertently) to a bias against hiring quality talent from other institutions.

 

Dr. Robert Hartwig is special consultant to the Insurance Information Institute and is Clinical Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina.

The Kids Are Alright: Top Performers Born, Made and Real

By guest blogger Lynne McChristian

Within mere weeks of joining the faculty at Florida State University in 2015, I chaperoned a student group to Gamma Iota Sigma’s annual conference. With my more than two decades of deep experience with millennials (having raised two of them), I had personal insight on the misplaced labels pinned on this generation. There’s nothing like going on a trip with a group of people you don’t know to break down stereotypes altogether.

Here’s something you don’t often hear about millennials: They are smart, polished, professional, savvy – and driven. That was my take-away from my first GIS conference, attended by hundreds of students from risk management and insurance programs, including actuarial science programs. My positive first impression gets reinforced each semester, and it is a good sign for the industry.

Collegiate RMI programs are focusing on curriculum – and much more. Faculty are practical folks and fully understand the need to integrate the textbook and the tactical with interpersonal skills. And, we do what we tell our students to do: keep learning, keep thinking, keep improving. Greater emphasis is placed on building a well-rounded individual; in other words, helping a student think of not only how they look on paper, with a solid GPA and a slate of internships, but also how they come across.

Florida State University was listed among the Top Performers in a Best’s Review research study on the College Standouts for undergraduate RMI programs. Illinois State University, Temple University and University of Georgia were also in the top tier.

At FSU, we encourage RMI students to do more than show up for class. Getting involved in things that appear optional, I tell them, is a test in which you give yourself the grade. For example, we have a mentor program that pairs students with industry professionals for a weekly phone conversation. It’s a guided conversation with a weekly topic list. Students connect with industry insiders, and the emphasis is on developing interview skills and pursuing professional designations. Additionally, nearly every RMI graduate has completed an internship by the time they graduate. They get class credit for this and so much more, such as a solid job offer months before graduation. Participating in the professional business fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, is another option that we tout as building your network on campus because your network is portable and travels well.

Integration and collaboration with the industry remains an imperative. In fact, FSU established a Center for Risk Management Education & Research with a mission to link constituencies.
Stereotypes get busted all the time, including the one about academics being in a bubble. Those of us teaching in RMI busted the bubble years ago. Partnerships and close ties with the insurance industry continue to help keep it real and make it work.

Lynne McChristian is a consultant with the Insurance Information Institute and a faculty member at Florida State University. She is also the executive director of FSU’s Center for Risk Management Education & Research.

Millennials in insurance: filling the talent gap

On February 8 I had the pleasure of attending the Insurance Business America’s Millennials in Insurance Conference in New York where I learned from some of the most engaging industry experts and the Millennials themselves about what the industry is doing to attract and retain new employees.  Here is the list of panelists and agenda.

Millennials are often described as entitled, selfish and apathetic. But these stereotypes often prove to be just that. A Deloitte survey of over 8 thousand millennials found that they feel accountable for many issues in both the workplace and the wider world. They feel most able to make an impact on societal issues via the workplace.

What Millennials and Generation Z want from employers:

  • Stability ­­‑‑ it’s a myth that young people want to job hop every few years
  • Flexibility
  • A clearly defined career path
  • Works that is engaging and sparks curiosity
  • Autonomy, culture and meaning

Advice from the panelists to insurers on recruitment

  • Make use of social media and sites like GlassDoor and LinkedIn
  • Focus on transparency
  • Don’t forget to engage students at the high school level
  • Stress the numerous opportunities for technology jobs in insurance such as big data analytics and predictive modeling
  • Have “swagger” to show that the industry is cool and cutting edge
  • “Be loud about loving insurance” — talk to your neighbors’ kids or a local school
  • Go local with the specific examples of what the industry does for communities
  • Stress that the industry offers a work life balance not found elsewhere
  • Have ‘a day in the life’ examples to dispel myth of boring routine jobs
  • Have year-round recruiting and showcase a variety of roles
  • Promote the brand and culture of the company

 

Advice from the panelists on how to retain young talent once you have them

  • Know the difference between a teacher and a coach, and be prepared to serve as coach to young employees
  • Look at employees as a long-term investment – provide mentoring and job-sharing opportunities
  • Get orientation right – map out job progression and define a path
  • Non-compensation benefits are important, people have been known to switch companies if the dress code is not flexible
  • Student loan repayment assistance is a great benefit to give to employees of all ages
  • Include young employees in the decision-making process and create an inclusive and open environment
  • The happiest employees believe their company cares about them, that care is best expressed through flexibility offered, not necessarily through compensation
  • Promote from within
  • Millennials like lots and lots of feedback, keep the lines of communication open (check out the performance feedback research done by the Neuroleadership Institute)
  • Once you hire for diversity you need to commit to keep that diverse workforce by providing a community within the company

 

 

The I.I.I. lists many resources on its careers in insurance page.

 

Butler University Inspires With Student-Run Captive Insurer

If you’re looking for inspiration to join the insurance sector, look no further than this story of student innovation and enterprise out of Indiana’s Butler University.

The University’s live mascot bulldog Trip, rare books, fine art, and observatory telescope are just some of the items that will be insured by MJ Student-Run Insurance Company, the brainchild of risk management and insurance majors at Butler’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program.

MJ Student-Run Insurance Company, a captive insurer, just received licensing approval from the Bermuda Monetary Authority and will officially open for business August 1.

Note: A captive a special type of insurance company set up by a parent company, trade association or group of companies to insure the risks of its owner or owners.

Butler newsroom blog reports that the insurance company was created as a way to give students hands-on experience to prepare them for an industry that anticipates needing 400,000 new employees by 2020.

While 1,900 American universities have accounting programs, and 900 have finance programs, only 82 offer insurance and risk programs, noted Zach Finn, clinical professor & director of Butler’s Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program.

Finn drove the creation of the Butler program back in 2012 to promote his search for a mix of textbook and experiential learning.’

Bernews.com reports:

“This is entrepreneurship at its best. MJ Student-Run Insurance Company Ltd is believed to be the first such captive created, paving the way for future innovation.”

Butler’s captive insurance company was funded by a gift from MJ Insurance and Michael M. Bill.

Check out I.I.I. information on captive insurers and other risk-financing options here.

Predictive Modeling Seminar Ahead

Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) chief actuary James Lynch will be in San Diego at the Casualty Actuarial Society’s (CAS) annual Ratemaking and Product Management conference, March 27 to 29. Here’s a preview:

The I.I.I. partners with the CAS at its conferences. I generally write three or four articles based on conference sessions for the CAS Actuarial Review. These tend to be fairly meaty actuarial topics, but I try to make them digestible. Here is something I wrote about predictive models a while back.

At this meeting, I plan to write three more articles about predictive models. These are sophisticated models that draw on Big Data to help insurers serve their customers better.

Many, if not most personal insurers, use predictive models to price their products. Lately they’ve been developing models to help them settle claims quickly and accurately.

It’s an important, growing area in property/casualty insurance, particularly among actuaries and other quantitative experts. The CAS is recognizing the emerging skill through the CAS Institute – iCAS for short – its subsidiary that awards credentials for quantitative professionals.

The Institute’s first designation is for Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics, or CSPA, and it will be awarded in a formal ceremony at the conference. I’ll be live-tweeting that event.

Legal Fallout From Oakland Warehouse Tragedy

Filing of the first lawsuits in connection with the December 2 Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36, underscores the importance of managing legal risks that arise from disaster.

The fire was the deadliest in the United States since a 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100.

Civil complaints were filed Friday on behalf of families of two students who died in the blaze against a number of people, including the building’s owner and those who transformed the space into an artist community that was home to 20 people but not permitted for residential use, promoters and those involved with the event.

Separate claims were also filed against employees of Oakland city and Alameda County departments.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the city of Oakland has come under increasing scrutiny since the Dec. 2 fire for failing to prevent the blaze. City officials have said no building inspector had been in the warehouse for the past three decades even though complaints had been made for years.

Although state law provides a broad liability shield for local governments for failing to conduct building inspections, the immunity is “not insurmountable,” according to the lawyer representing families.

Criminal charges may also follow.

Among the lawsuits’ allegations, according to CNN:

—“The interior of the approximately 10,000-square-foot Ghost Ship was a death trap, which contained a maze of makeshift rooms, alcoves and partitions. It was cluttered with carvings, mannequins, paintings, artwork, scraps of wood, pianos, furniture, tapestries and at least one recreational vehicle trailer, which were kindling for the fire.”

and

—The building contained insufficient smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, exit signs and emergency lighting.

The Insuring California blog post Can cities and artists work together to create safe spaces for venues? explores some of the other factors contributing to the deadly blaze.

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 1,210 fires in warehouse properties per year (excluding refrigerated or cold storage), which represents less than 1% of all structure fires, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports.

These fires caused an annual average of $155 million in direct property damage, three civilian deaths, and 19 civilian injuries.

Fires that were intentionally set and fires caused by electrical distribution and lighting equipment are the leading causes of warehouse fires, according to the NFPA (below).

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NFPA notes:

“Warehouses present special challenges for fire protection because their contents and layouts are conducive to fire spread and present obstacles to manual fire suppression efforts.”

More on structure fires available in the Insurance Information Institute’s facts and statistics on fire.

Home Fire Drill

My older son has a fire safety drill at school today and my younger son’s class field trip to the firehouse is next week, which is my personal reminder that it’s time to test our home smoke alarms.

In fact smoke alarms are once again the theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week,  and there are good reasons why.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics show that three of every five residential fire deaths in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

And almost 40 percent of fire fatalities that occur in the U.S. are in homes with no smoke alarms.

Being prepared in the event of a home fire is also critical.

Despite the fact that nine in 10 structure fires occur in the home, a recent survey by Nationwide found that only one in five parents regularly practice fire escape plans at home.

Nearly half of all parents surveyed (45 percent) also report that their children do not know what to do in the event of a home fire.

To raise awareness of this issue and encourage families to be more prepared, tomorrow Nationwide is launching Home Fire Drill Day as part of its Make Safe Happen program.

What can you do?

First, know where to go. Pick a safety spot that’s near your home and a safe distance away. Explain to your kids that when the smoke alarm beeps they need to get out of the house quickly and meet at that safety spot.

Test your smoke alarms with your kids so they know what they sound like. Then, do the drill and see if you can all make it out of the house to the safety spot in under two minutes. If not, do it again.

As Nationwide says: “We do fire drills at school. We do them at work. Now, let’s do them at home.”

Sounds like a plan.

The Insurance Information Institute has facts and statistics on fire losses here.

Q&A With Bob Hartwig, Industry Legend

Dr. Robert Hartwig, an economist and president of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) for almost a decade is about to head south to join the faculty of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. We caught up with him in his final days at the I.I.I. to ask him about his time in office, some of his most memorable moments and his plans for the future.

What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time as I.I.I. president?

Bob Hartwig: Over the past 10 years we’ve built an extraordinary brand around the Insurance Information Institute name.  The I.I.I. is the trusted source for insurance information, analysis and expertise.  The organization’s credibility is its currency among its many stakeholders including not only consumers, insurers and media but also legislators, regulators, academics and more.  I’m also very proud of the way that we’ve been able to use cutting edge technology to further our mission of sharing with the world how this vital industry works and the critical role it plays in the global economy.

What was your most challenging day in office?

BH: 9/11.  No question about it.  The I.I.I.’s offices in lower Manhattan were only a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.  We watched real time from our 24th floor office at 110 William Street as the towers fell.  Our building was hit by flying debris and enveloped in smoke.  As the horror of that day was unfolding before our eyes, we were at the same time working to make sure that media and others understood that insurers would be standing by their commitments and would work tirelessly to help the tens of thousands of impacted policyholders, the city of New York and the United States as a whole get back on their feet.

You’ve made hundreds of TV appearances over the years representing the industry. Any memorable moments you can share with us?

BH: There are so many, but once again I go back to 9/11.  One or two days after the event I was invited to appear on the set of 60 Minutes.  I had appeared in the press calling for a Marshall Plan for Manhattan and once again was there to assure a nervous country that insurers were committed to helping rebuild.

You’ve rubbed shoulders with more than a few famous people on the insurance speaking circuit. Who were you most excited to meet and why?

BH: It’s not always the most famous person who delivers the best speech.  I had the chance to meet Bill Clinton, who’s quite a compelling speaker.  Recently, I met Arnold Schwarzenegger—who appeared at a fundraising event for insurance education in his capacity as a former governor of California.  I thought he had a particularly inspiring story that would appeal to many young people.  Perhaps the smartest person I ever met and a personal hero to me was John Nash, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 and depicted in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.”  I adapted some of the work he had done in the field of game theory in my PhD dissertation.  I met him in 2013 at the age of 84, two years before he and his wife died in a tragic car accident.

HartwigSchwarzenegger

When you’re not in the classroom cultivating the next generation of insurance minds, where can we find you?

BH: Well, you’re likely to find me out running or biking on rural roads in South Carolina.  That said, I bought a house on a lake in South Carolina and may soon indulge myself with a boat—so before too long you’re likely to find me at my favorite fishing hole!

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many of our readers in thanking Bob for his leadership and wishing him all the best in the next chapter!

Warming Up Your Valentine’s Day With Insurance

Bitter cold and snow may be in the air for some this Valentine’s weekend, but there’s no better way to stay warm than by checking out these Valentine-themed messages from around the risk and insurance community.

First up, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reminds us that while there is nothing more romantic than a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day, getting adequate insurance for that ring will ensure you are financially protected.

Next, did you know that every year, thousands of Americans lose billions of dollars by falling victim to romance scams? The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) warns that nearly every demographic is at risk, but the people who are most susceptible are the elderly and women over 40 who are divorced, widowed or disabled.

Among the most common romance scams are malicious actors (scammers) who create fake profiles on dating websites and establish relationships with other site members in order to scam them out of money.

Check out this story of the Emoji prince who thinks he’s found true love online, but soon becomes a victim of a romance scam narrated by FSR’s director of fraud risk, Roxane Schneider.

Finally, if you’re looking to heat up your romance…or your house…by lighting candles this weekend, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has some timely  candle fire safety tips to consider.

From 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles, causing 86 deaths, 827 injuries and $374 million in direct property damage.

On average, 25 home candle fires were reported per day over the five-year period, according to the NFPA.

The I.I.I.’s Valentine’s Pinterest Board has additional tips to ensure your loved ones and their valuables are financially protected.

Love, Actuarially…

Actuaries have the top-rated job in America, which gives I.I.I.  chief actuary James Lynch a chance to crow.

Actuaries — the number crunchers of the insurance industry — have the best jobs in the United States, according to the latest annual analysis by CareerCast.com. Newspaper reporters have the worst.

This has a personal resonance, because I am an actuary and I used to be a newspaper reporter. I wrote personal finance stories for the Miami Herald in the late 1980s. Before that I was a general assignment reporter for the Washington Missourian.

I think I’m the only person who can make this claim, and the fact continually sparks conversations, the most recent being April 14 after I spoke at the AIPSO Residual Market Forum in Warwick, Rhode Island.

This time the questioner was Karen Furtado, a partner at Strategy Meets Action, a Boston consultant to insurers. She asked: “That’s such an interesting change of careers. How did that happen?”

My response is a practiced tale:

I worked nearly a decade in journalism and had many reasons for leaving. You have to have lots of reasons to change careers. If there’s only one thing wrong with your job, that’s a good job and you shouldn’t leave it.

Before I left, I made some lists, as career guides urge. One list was of the things I wanted to do but never found time to do, because of the constraints of my career. One item on the list was “Take Math Classes.” (I had always gotten good math grades.)

So I quit my job and enrolled at Florida International University, near where I lived then. This was about three months before my wedding. I was 29.

At first I wanted to become a computer programmer because I had enjoyed writing the code that generated charts in the newspaper.

I quickly learned that programming is an art governed by a muse, and much of a programmer’s job is to stare at a screen  until the muse whispers the correct code to write. This muse might alight in an hour, or in a week or maybe three weeks. In the meantime you faced a blinking cursor and ate Snickers.

That was not the career for me.

I had loved my math classes, though, and decided to change my major. I walked into the math department offices, and — serendipity! — the admin handed me a brand new brochure touting the university’s brand new certificate program in actuarial science.

You need to be curious about a lot of subjects: mathematics, statistics, economics, law. You need to be able to explain complex ideas in a simple way. Actuaries surely need those skills — but reporters need them, too.

This I can do, I thought. I got the university’s first certificate in actuarial science and picked up a bachelor’s in statistics along the way. After a mere decade of brutal exams, I was a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).

My I.I.I. job combines my two careers. I work closely with the CAS, for which I write press releases and the occasional article. And I write research papers for the I.I.I., like this one on alternative capital, or the occasional magazine article, like this one on autonomous vehicles.

In fairness, I’ve never thought newspaper reporter was the worst job in the world, even back when I was so disenchanted a quarter century ago. Much of its poor rating today comes from future of newspapers, more bleak today than when I worked for one.

And the job that one person hates another may love. The journalist who can barely add (I’ve met them) would be an unhappy actuary, as would the actuary who struggles to write.

I feel lucky to have a job that blends my unique skills, and I always hope that others can find their own way as well.