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Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre

Insurance & Pensions

Introduction

A wide range of graduate roles exist within the insurance and pensions sector. This is set to increase with recent government and legislative fiscal changes, particularly in relation to changes in company pensions and the need for consultants and advisers. Opportunities exist within the private and public sector. The main graduate entry-level roles include consulting, pension administration and management brokering, underwriting and loss adjusting. 

The Work

Agcas, the professional body for higher education careers advisory services has produced an Industry Insight for Banking, Investment and Insurance which provides an overview of what it is like to work in this area. For more information on a careers in Insurance and Pensions, you can also look at the Inside Careers website.

The following occupational profiles comes from AGCAS, the professional body for higher education careers advisory services. They have been written and researched by staff working within careers services across the country and are available on the prospects website.

 

 Example Roles - Insurance Policy Work

Chartered loss adjuster
Insurance claims handler
Insurance risk surveyor
Insurance underwriter

 

 Example Roles - Insurance Sales

Insurance account manager
Insurance broker

 

 Example Roles - Pensions

Pension scheme manager
Pensions consultant

 

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How to Get a Job

Work experience

Are internships an option for this career area?

Internships exist for penultimate year students. This is a paid work experience placement, with a project for the student to complete. Many large insurance companies and actuarial consultancies/regulatory bodies use these as a way of identifying excellent candidates for their graduate schemes. Be aware employers in this career area will value any other financial related internship experience, including actuarial /investment banking/retail banking/investment management/accounting/professional services.

 

What are the other types of work experience to consider?

It will help strengthen your application if you have gained relevant work experience throughout your degree. This can start with part-time or vocational work in a bank, insurance or actuarial company or pensions department of a company. This will give you an insight into the financial services world and also develop some useful skills and knowledge. As early as your 1st year of study check your local newspaper and local recruitment agencies in your area (see rec.uk. for those specialising in Insurance). Be proactive and write speculatively. Use the UK Insurance Directory to search for large and small employers with contact details.

The Step programme  is a UK wide initiative which provides 8 weeks paid summer work experience with small medium enterprises (employers with less than 250 staff). This is similar in structure to an internship. It may be possible to source an opportunity which is finance related in a range of sectors of employment. First and penultimate year students are eligible to apply to Step Classic vacancies. Vacancies tend to be advertised from January up until June each year on an on-going basis. 

 

Useful websites for finding work experience 

 

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Graduate schemes and alternatives

How Can I Improve My Chances Of Success?

Having completed an internship or related work experience in a finance related role will greatly improve your chances of success. The achievement or predicted degree of a 2i with 2i results in previous years of study will provide more options. Fewer options for graduate schemes are available with a 2:2 , although compared to other areas of finance, such as Investment Banking, there are far more opportunities. 

Employers will be impressed by any extra-curricular activities which involve developing commercial awareness. An example many employers cite is the role of a Treasurer in a student society. 

Most employers have no preference regarding the subject you have read, although a few stipulate a numerate or business degree. Many employers also use on-line numerical and verbal reasoning aptitude tests as an initial sifting tool. If you are successful at this stage you can expect to be invited to interview or assessment centre.

Activities which demonstrate long term commitment to something, ideally outside of academic study, would be particularly valued as employers need convincing that any future employee they are going to invest in for professional training will have the focus and long term commitment to study for the professional examinations.

 

Other opportunities

In relation to the pensions sector, it is more common for graduates to enter non-graduate roles in pension's administration, completing qualifications on the job with the Pensions Management Institute and then progressing to Pensions Management positions within 5-8 years. Pension's administration roles do not necessarily require an undergraduate degree and may be advertised as temporary or permanent posts via regional newspapers and recruitment agencies - see rec.uk. for the latter. 

Many graduates begin their careers in related areas such as working for an Actuarial Consultancy as an Actuary or in a Professional Services or Accountancy Firm as an Accountant specialising in Pensions or Insurance related matters after qualification. They will then move over to higher level roles with specific Pensions and Insurance companies such as smaller consultancies.

 

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Sources of vacancies

Some of the most useful websites for finding graduate vacancies in this career area are listed below.

Insurance Times
  • Graduate vacancies in all areas of insurance
  • Search by insurance area and location within the UK
Graduates at Lloyds
  • Links details of graduate vacancies with Lloyds 20 managing agents/brokers
  • Links to individual employers' websites with contact details
  • Includes graduate case study profiles
  • Comprehensive range of graduate careers with Lloyds Insurance market
Insurance Jobs
  • Search graduate jobs by sector of insurance and location in the UK
  • Sign up for free e-alerts of job vacancies
Pension Careers
  • Find a range of graduate trainee and pension administrator roles
  • Access a wide variety of career-related articles
Durham University Careers Service online vacancies
  • Search for part-time, work experience and graduate vacancies across a number of disciplines

 

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Relevant Employers

Opportunities for graduates exist within the public and private sector.

Insurance - main employers include insurance companies; brokers (including Lloyd's of london syndicate); insurance risk management departments in non-insurance companies; and, life assurance companies 

Pensions - main employers include public sector pensions providers; banks; building societies; in-house company pension departments; and, pension consultancies.

 

Examples of employers recruiting graduates within the past year are:

 

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Courses

Is postgraduate study essential?

It is not essential to have completed a postgraduate qualification to gain graduate entry level roles within Insurance and Pensions.

The industry tends to provide career progression via completion of the relevant professional bodies qualifications whilst working on the job.

An MBA is useful for entry to Pensions Management roles which graduates would enter after a few years experience in pensions administration. A risk management related MBA would be most relevant. For entry to many MBA courses, at least a few years of relevant work experience (usually between 3-4 ) is required. Funding is usually via employers who have provided secondment to study.

Postgraduate Masters level courses do exist, mainly in the area of Risk and Insurance Management. When deciding on how to choose a course, do check with the relevant professional bodies if exemptions are gained from studying their own professional qualifications once in a job. Does the course have links with employers in the industry? Are their opportunities to gain relevant work experience/network? These are all important questions to get answered before deciding, as they are key to enhancing employability.

Some courses may require industry specific work experience and at least a 2i degree in a business, finance or numerical related undergraduate degree. 

 

Funding

This is rare. Scholarships or bursaries may be available within individual institutions. Check with admissions staff at the universities you are interested in applying to.

 

Useful websites

 

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Professional Bodies

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) is a major professional body for those working in the insurance and financial industry. It is dedicated to promoting higher standards of competence and integrity through the provision of relevant qualifications for employees at all levels and across all sectors. Provides useful careers section with details of major employers in the sector. Events run through the year open to members and non-members. Students of economics/finance and law related degrees can join as student members and get a 30% reduction on attending events. Exemptions are also possible from some modules of the C.I.I exams. 

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) represents the collective interests of the UK's insurance industry. The Association speaks out on issues of common interest; helps to inform and participate in debates on public policy issues; and also acts as an advocate for high standards of customer service in the insurance industry. The Association has around 400 companies in membership. The ABI organises a large range of conferences and events for the insurance industry.

The Pensions Management Institute (PMI) are the professional body which supports and develops the experts who run UK pension schemes. A membership of some 5,000 pensions professionals and trustees which includes many of the thought leaders who drive retirement provision in this country. Students and graduates will find the website useful for researching the various professional qualifications including syllabus, as this is what the major graduate recruiters put trainees through.

The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) plays a pivotal role in leading the profession in the UK and overseas. With the backing of its members it ensures that the profession receives the high profile recognition it deserves. The Institute is self-regulating and totally committed to its core values of standard setting, examination and professional conduct. The Institute helps to shape the future of the profession. The website provides useful information on career areas loss adjustors are employed in, plus the professional qualifications syllabus. 

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