Diversity in Insurance: Teresa Bentley on the London Market Group

Teresa Bentley, fresh from her CII Classroom to Boardroom Initiative of the Year Award win for her work on raising awareness of Insurance as an attractive career of choice, speaks to Ben Johnson, Director, Insurance.

Teresa Bentley

What do the London Market Group (LMG) do? How do they work with Lloyd’s?

The London Market Group is a market-wide body, that brings together the specialist commercial (re)insurance broking and underwriting communities that are all based in London.  The LMG speaks collectively for London market practitioners (underwriters and brokers) on growth and modernisation issues, and it aims is to build on London’s position and reputation as the global centre of insurance excellence.  The London Market is made up of various components, including the Lloyd’s market, non-Lloyd’s international and wholesale insurance and reinsurance companies operating in London and insurance and reinsurance brokers.

As the LMG represents the whole of the London Market it is supported by the International Underwriting Association of London (IUA), Lloyd’s, the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) and the London & International Insurance Brokers’ Association (LIIBA) who represent all the parties that make up the London Market.

 

Can you tell us about your role with LMG? What are you currently working on as interim Head of Talent? 

As Head of Talent for the London Market Group I am focused on driving activity that will help to deliver a diverse, dynamic workforce for the London insurance market.  As part of my role I work closely with the various market associations, Lloyd’s, the CII and market organisation volunteers.

A year ago we launched a talent engagement campaign - London Insurance Life (@LIL) – that provides a flavour of what working life is like in the London insurance market and the career opportunities it offers.  @LIL uses social media and targeted events to interest young people in a career in, and change their preconceived ideas about, insurance. The pages promote job vacancies, and to date 88 entry level jobs, graduate and apprenticeship schemes have been posted by a wide variety of firms across the market, and these posts have resulted in many successful job applications.

One critical aspect of @LIL is the recruitment of ‘ambassadors’ - young professionals from across the market who participate in events and act as relatable role models for a wide and diverse range of young people that we are trying to attract, many of whom would never have considered insurance as a career choice.  We currently have 97 ambassadors who give their time for free to work with our diversity partners and young people, engaging and interesting them in a career in insurance.

We also showcase the London Market and its career opportunities at large scale careers shows and bespoke events tailored for university and school leavers, teachers and careers advisers.  These sessions give a hands-on experience of visiting Lloyd’s, and participants experience a “mock placement” of a risk and a claim being processed.   Attendees also have the chance to hear real life stories from our ambassadors and get a feel for what working life in the market is really like. 

On one hand we are raising interest from a diverse new talent base, on the other we need to ensure that the market understands the importance of employing them. There is little point in attracting diverse talent if the market isn’t open to recruiting outside its current talent pool, and more importantly doesn’t provide the appropriate inclusive environment to retain them.

To help highlight the benefits and importance of diversity, provide practical solutions and inspire market organisations we are running a series of showcase events to demonstrate successful initiatives from across the London Market, and inspire companies with success stories from other industries.  We want companies from across the London market, both large and small, broker, managing agent and insurers to be involved.

As part of our work we are working with Inclusion@Lloyd’s on their annual ‘Holding up the Mirror’ report on diversity and inclusion (D&I) to extend their 2018 survey to cover the whole of the London Market.  This survey garners the views of heads of D&I and HR directors, charting progress on D&I in the market and creating a benchmark for progress going forward.

 

What are the biggest challenges the Insurance industry faces when attracting talent?

Attracting diverse talent into the market is not as easy as it might appear.  Insurance traditionally has had a poor image for example, business students perceive insurance as dull, and insurance consistently is placed in the bottom quartile of industry sectors in the annual Universum Talent Survey of over 700,000 students and professionals around the world.   

We have been delighted by the success of our social media pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  By using a medium that is an integral part of young people’s lives and posting a range of personal stories from young and diverse people working in the market, we are changing preconceived ideas about insurance as a career option.  

The feedback from HR personnel around the market is that the candidates applying for jobs via @LIL are more serious applicants than via other channels; they more are demographically diverse and informed about working life in the London Market and the types of careers on offer.

 

How can we change millennials perception of the insurance industry?

Most young people have little understanding of insurance and often think of it in terms of personal insurance such as motor or building cover and working in call centres.  So, we open their eyes to the fact that the London insurance market is a global centre for commercial and specialty risk, employing over 52,000 people, offering a wide range of exciting career opportunities.

At the heart of all our events is the opportunity to hear from and speak to our @LIL Ambassadors - a range of inspirational young people who already work in the market. The combination of these conversations and vibrant social media are usually enough to change perceptions. Feedback from our careers events has been very positive, with 96% of attendees saying they would consider insurance as a career choice.

Take a look at the pages; they’re vibrant, diverse and far removed from the dull image many perceive.

Instagram: londoninsurancelife

Facebook: London Insurance Life

Twitter: LondonInsLife             

In addition, many millennials are keen to have an impact and so explaining to them that insurance, and the London market in particular, helps countries and cities to recover from major natural disasters, by paying huge claims to give them the finances required to rebuild and clear the damage that nature has wrought.  For example, paying billions of pounds in claims to help the Caribbean islands rebuild post last year’s devastating hurricanes is a clear demonstration of the importance of insurance and the impact it can have helping people in their hour of need.

 

Do you see the changing landscape in insurance having a dramatic effect on the skill sets required?

The LMG is driving a significant modernisation programme for the London Market, and this is an example of the market working together and, the resilience of the insurance market in London.                                      

London market firms have always employed talented people with a wide range of skills and over its 300-year history the London Market has innovated to remain relevant to its clients. There is no doubt that digitalisation creates new opportunities and challenges and, new technologies are likely to impact on future skill sets.  I anticipate however, that as the market has proved time and time again, it will continue to evolve and employ people with the appropriate skills required both now and in the future.

 

What changes have you made as interim Head of Talent?

My role is a new position and so is having a market-wide talent engagement programme.  My role is to drive talent and diversity activity from a London Market perspective, not just from a single company perspective.  Formalising the collaboration between market associations, Lloyd’s, Inclusion@Lloyd’s and the CII has provided a firm foundation for helping the market build a diverse, dynamic workforce.

I have been overwhelmed by the level of support the @LIL campaign has generated from young people from across the London Market.  Our 97 ambassadors (this number grows daily) give their time voluntarily and attend events, meet young people and act as role models and mentors to help interest them in a career in the London Market.

 

Why do you do this? What is it that attracted you to this role and Lloyd’s?

As a change management professional, I have extensive experience of developing strategy and leading change in insurance and other sectors.  Such an opportunity to deliver change at market rather than organisational level is very unique and gives me a chance to make a real difference to the future of the London market and the 350 organisations within it.

The market has existed for over 300 years and is considered the preeminent global centre for commercial and specialist risk.  Diversity of thought is central to ensuring the market maintains this position and I want to help people who may not traditionally have considered a career here benefit from the opportunities available and help the market maintain this position.

 

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!

At the age of 18, I opened a fish and chip shop and sold it six months later to raise the deposit to buy my first house. This was alongside my fulltime office job, so I worked 17-hour days and spent the hours in-between trying to rid myself of the odour of fried food and sleeping!

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