Are you prepared for a career in insurance and risk management?
Here’s an inside look from Mitch Grassi, a University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business graduate, who now works as a Broker at a property and casualty insurance brokerage.
Like many students, when Mitch first started university, he was not entirely sure of the career path he would take.
His drive to find a stable job immediately upon graduation led him to learn more about the Risk Management and Insurance (RMIN) concentration available to Bachelor of Commerce students, and he also found that the employment rate for professionals in this industry was very high.
After an introductory course on the subject, he knew he wanted to learn more about the risk management and insurance world, so he switched his concentration to RMIN and focused on this area over his time at the University of Calgary.
One interesting opportunity Mitch recalls was in one of his final RMIN courses, which ended with a trip to London and Bermuda. “This really opened my eyes to the variety of work that is available in the global risk industry,” he says. “I met with people that had come from all around the world with a variety of different backgrounds.”
A day in the life of an Insurance Broker
Mitch describes his current position as primarily working with the insured (a person or corporation that wants to cover their risk exposures) to assess what kind of coverage they require. He says that he would then “go to market” in order to compile insurance products that would cover the client’s risks.
After that, a draft up of proposals is drawn and presented to the client so they can make an informed decision. He may also offer risk management advice, for example, helping the client to avoid potential losses. More specifically, Mitch is currently working on a portfolio transfer, which is when a book of business at a brokerage is moved from one insurance company to another.
He says his day-to-day work “consists of working with Account Managers to assess their clients’ risks and coverage, and then working with Underwriters in order to see that coverage is adequately placed with the new insurance company.”
When you work in insurance, every day is a new experience.
Networking key to hatching an insurance career
Mitch says the most useful thing he learned that helped him start his career in the insurance industry was networking. “The insurance/risk industry is pretty close-knit, so talking to people and letting them know your interests is a great way to get connected with companies and start your career,” he explains.
In order to achieve his goal of securing a job in the insurance industry, Mitch went to events that the University of Calgary’s Association of Risk Management and Insurance (ARMI) put on to help students meet people from the industry. They invited companies from the industry to come to the school for a job fair so students could learn about the different opportunities available.
Mitch also spoke with many of his professors for advice and recommends adding your resume to your faculty, program or major’s resume book, which is sent to a list of companies looking to hire.
Both challenges and opportunities can be found in insurance
However, like any other career path, there are obviously some challenges along the way. Students and recent grads pursuing a career in the insurance industry will face a number of obstacles and must learn to work around them. Mitch says that the nature of the industry is very relationship-based, which presents its own unique challenges at times.
You will also usually need to obtain and maintain a license depending on your career choice, and some areas of insurance have seasonal demand peaks. So, depending on what your focus is and when you start working, you may find it overwhelming (or, on the flip-side, not as difficult as you may have thought).
Mitch recommends that students interested in insurance careers go to industry events. For example, if you attend the University of Calgary, you can get tickets to Southern Alberta Risk and Insurance Management Society (SARIMS) events. Job fairs, guest lectures and interviews with industry professionals are also great ways to learn more about the industry.
“There are a lot of different opportunities in the industry, so don’t get discouraged early in your career if you find that the position you first chose wasn’t what you expected,” Mitch advises. He strongly believes that the skills you learn at any job in the industry are valuable and transferable to many other positions, so any experience is a great experience!