Bridging the gap

By John Miklus, IUMI Education Forum Chair and President, American Institute of Marine Underwriters, New York, United States of America, 2nd May 2018 | Print version

From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges we face as global marine insurers is a need to bring in fresh new talent. The gap between the older stalwarts and the young pretenders continues to widen, and that’s worrying. A wave of industry veterans will be retiring over the next decade and replacements must be found. And not just any replacement either, we need high quality, well-educated individuals who can appreciate tradition yet be willing to innovate. As custodians of our industry, it’s up to us to find good reasons for “Generation Z” to devote a significant period of their working life to marine underwriting.

Education can help!  Youngsters who join our profession regularly find themselves on learning curves of ski-jump proportions and that is intimidating. We should help ease them into the job with high quality training – that’s something IUMI is beginning to offer.

And we also need to “sell” marine insurance as a “cool” way to spend their working days. New technologies will be an attraction. Blockchain and other of-the-moment technologies will soon make an entrance, as will advances in software, IT platforms and networks. All this will inevitably impact the speed at which marine business is conducted driving a need for a nimble and intelligent workforce.

Irrespective of technology and speed, people still remain at the heart of our business with relationships and teamwork winning out against screens and faceless messaging. This could give us an edge in an increasingly anonymous world. Many would say that the people aspect is best part of the marine business.

It’s probably fair to say that most new entrants to marine underwriting are likely to be equipped with a university degree in business, maritime, insurance or even a liberal arts discipline. But we will still need to offer advanced education opportunities if we are to keep them. Our industry doesn’t sit still, and our people must stay abreast of change in a way that suits them. Here at IUMI we understand that learning doesn’t always mean classroom or face-to-face gatherings. We’ve set out to develop a topical and relevant series of webinars and on-line tutorials to help share vital information and skills with the next generation.

It’s through education that seasoned professionals can impart knowledge and skills to their heirs, and that’s vital for the well-being and success of our business.

Marine insurance is hugely interesting. We have wide latitude to set premiums and policy terms and we underwrite risks and handle claims in all corners of the world. Let’s ensure our fledgling workforce know marine is never boring.  And once they’ve take the leap into marine insurance, let’s do all we can to keep them here.