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31/10/2016 - Applying for a Job in Insurance #2 – your covering letter

Not much more than a decade ago you would apply for a job by posting a hard copy of your CV, and you would include a cover letter to explain what role you were applying for and why you were interested.

As technology has advanced, email has become the standard method for applying for a role. This is beneficial for the applicant, saving you time and money, but there are also benefits for the recruiter as we can store your application and search for it a later date.

Although the method has changed, employers still appreciate the information that was traditionally included in a cover letter although this can either be included in the content of the email or as an attachment.

Writing a good covering letter takes time. It must be written specifically for the role you are applying for. If you are applying for several roles it can be tempting to create a covering letter template and tailor it for each job but I strongly discourage this. As an employer reading covering letters it is easy to identify which letters have been written for your role and which have been slightly amended.

The covering letter is your chance to explain to the employer what you know about the role and why you want it. Displaying a genuine interest in the role will make your application stand out.

Unless there are specific instructions from the employee, your cover letter should be made up of three components and a similar amount should be allocated for each:

Your interest in the role
Employers appreciate that you may be applying for lots of different roles but we want to see that your have a clear understanding and interest in the role we are considering you for. Read the job description and explain what it is about the role that has sparked your interest in applying.

Your interest in the organisation and sector 
Employers want to recruit candidates who understand the organisation, its purpose and values. Before you write your covering letter research the company through their website and LinkedIn and show your knowledge and understanding in your letter.

How your skills and experience support your application for the role
Once you have explained why you would like the role and want to work for the organisation, you have the opportunity to explain why you are the right person for the job. You should include your knowledge and skills that will support your application. The recruiter will have a copy of your CV along with your cover letter so make sure you are not just duplicating the information in your CV and instead linking your skills to the job description.

Less really is more with covering letters. Spend the time focusing on a handful of tailored applications and make a great impression with those you decide to focus on!

20/10/2016 - Applying for a Job in Insurance #1 – your CV

You’re here because of your interest in a career in insurance/risk. I’m going to share some advice which will help you when the time comes to apply for a job.

Writing your CV

Keep your CV to one page – your CV will be one of several the recruiter is reading and they will want to absorb your information quickly. Make sure everything they are reading is essential. Information such as your address and references can be left off as this will be requested by the employer if required.

Personal statement – I find these useful to get an overview of the individual’s key characteristics and why they are applying for the role. Make sure it’s short and punchy, no more than three sentences. It should also be a description of yourself, so make sure it is unique.

Experience – whether it’s a summer job in a chip shop or a week in a law firm, we want to hear about what experiences you have, but prioritise your space. If you have lots of different experiences and you are short on space you will need to be selective, consider:

  • Recent experience - the most recent should be included
  • The duration - if you have had a part-time job that you have held for a period of time, you should include it
  • Similar experience - work in an office and ideally within the sector. We don’t expect much knowledge of the sector when you are applying for your first role but it’s reassuring for the recruiter if you have some experience and therefore a realistic example of the role and what it entails
Once you’ve identified the experiences you want to include, you will need to write a summary of what you did. Consider the headline of a newspaper; enough information to draw us in and give us an accurate picture of what you have done previously. Headline information is enough for a CV; you will be asked for the details in your interview.

Most recent information first – your CV should start with the most important information and recent information first. I recommend the following structure:

Personal statement
Work experience

Grades – for your first role you should include your GCSE, A level (or equivalent) and, if you’re at university, your predicted grades. This is a lot of information and should be listed clearly in a way the reader can easily digest making the most of the width on the page.

Accuracy – check your CV for spelling mistakes and typos. I often see spelling and formatting errors and it is hard to look past them as a recruiter. Don’t just check the content of your CV, check your email address and phone number. Unfortunately I have shortlisted CVs and attempted to contact them but have been unable to as their contact details were incorrect.  
Format – the layout of your CV gives the employer an impression of your computer skills. A good layout will have appropriate spacing, section headings in bold and underlined subheadings. 
Once you have written your CV, share it with someone you trust, to give you an honest opinion on the layout and contents as well as your career advisor. Once you have applied their feedback, check again for any mistakes. 

Your CV represents you and your experience, attention to detail, written communication and computer skills. A good candidate will always have a good CV.

Sam Ridgewell is Learning and Development Manager at Liberty Specialty Markets

06/10/2016 - From childhood dreams of teaching, to insurance – how?

For years the insurance market has been called 'London’s best kept secret' by those in the know.

Offering fantastic career paths, a professional environment and the opportunity to work with clients around the world, the insurance sector has a lot to offer.

When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher. Working with lots of people, every day being different and with the long summer holidays, it seemed like the ideal job. Looking back, before the wise age of 12, I had already considered a career as a teacher, a nurse, a shop keeper, and a florist, yet somehow here I am in insurance.  

So – why did I end up here? The reality is, our aspirations as children are based on what we are exposed to. Some of you may have family in insurance and therefore were let in on the secret from an early age; others of you may have stumbled across us. However you found out, now you know the secret, and I encourage you to pass it on! 

I started my career in insurance six years ago purely by chance. I applied for the job based on the job description rather than the sector. Once I started, I realised just how little I knew about the profession I found myself in and I got curious. There was a contagious passion that I had not experienced at work before; curiosity was encouraged, opinions were voiced and work was done at a refreshingly fast pace. I knew this was a place I could make a difference, to my career and the industry, particularly by spreading the secret! 

Flash forward six years and that aspiration has become a reality. I now manage the Learning and Development at Liberty Specialty Markets where a key part of my role is the management of the Liberty Academy for school leavers and graduates. Among other things I provide insight into the sector and advice on applying for jobs to hundreds of students. 

Sam Ridgewell is Learning and Development Manager at Liberty Specialty Markets

31/07/2015 - University vs Apprenticeships - Why you might consider an Apprenticeship in London

So, you have finished school, and you are ready to further your education to launch a successful career for yourself. What do you do? Do you start applying for various places at universities? Or, do you apply for an apprenticeship in London instead?

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer; it all depends on your circumstances and what you want to achieve. Nevertheless, apprenticeships are flourishing at the moment and employers are finding it more attractive to employ apprentices rather than university graduates. Keeping that in mind, read on to discover some of the key benefits that are associated with apprenticeships.

Earn while you learn

One of the main reasons why people are attracted to apprenticeships is because these give them a chance to earn while they learn. While you will be on a lower amount than someone at the company who has a full-time position, it certainly helps to have a bit of extra cash in the pocket, even this is merely £15 a day[CB1] . After all, it soon adds up, as £15 a day becomes £75 a week and £300 a month. You certainly won’t be earning anything from attending a university; in fact, it will cost you thousands of pounds if you go down that route.

Don’t rack up debt

As mentioned, those who attend university often find themselves in tens of thousands of debt. Do you really want to owe £20,000 before you turn 22?

Learn the skills you really need

One of the key benefits of choosing an apprenticeship is the fact that you will learn the skills that you need to do your job effectively. This is because you get real hands-on experience. When it comes to university courses, most are theory based, which makes it difficult for people to apply what they have learned to real life situations.


You will get to meet people and build up your contacts, which could lead to a great opportunity in the future.

More employment opportunities

You should see your apprenticeship as an extended interview and trial period. If you impress your boss, there is every chance that they will offer you a full-time position at the company, once your apprenticeship is over.

Get a recognised qualification

From NVQs to BTEC, there are various different qualifications you can achieve through taking an apprenticeship. This will look great on your CV and ensure you are an attractive proposition to any potential future employers.

For more information on careers in risk and insurance, visit our section on career paths. Interested in become a member of the CII, the world’s largest professional body for risk and financial services? Learn more about our Discover Membership.

 [CB1]Replace with ‘even if it is only £15 per day’

19/03/2015 - Social Media

I’d like to kick off this month’s blog with a few lines about social media. The risk industry has begun to really embrace the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in the last few years. This is an exciting development for an industry that in some ways has been seen as quite traditional.

Social media offers organisations and businesses the opportunity to connect directly and rapidly with their customers and the wider public. It also lets those who are looking at careers in the industry to connect with some of the key players and find out more about the latest developments.

To get you started, I’ve picked out a few key Twitter accounts to follow:

Where do I sign?!

OK, so your head has been turned by the risk industry and you might now be thinking of how you can get involved.

The good news is that insurance differs from lots of other sectors because there is no set route to a great career. People join the industry at all levels of qualification – from school leavers to PhD’s. Through training, experience, industry qualifications and hard work it is possible for you to have a great career regardless of your academic background. Many top insurance professionals joined the industry as school leavers with no formal training in risk.

Stay connected with Discover Risk and you will see regular updates regarding events, apprenticeships, graduate schemes and jobs which are all great opportunities to learn more and kick start your career in insurance. Find out which insurance and financial businesses are in your area and what sort of roles they are likely to be recruiting for.

Media Training

I’m involved with this year’s CII New Generation programme which is one of many great training and development initiatives in the industry. The latest event was a media training session held at the CII HQ in Central London. This was a full day course on how to present to the media, both for print and broadcast interviews.

I must admit I was slightly nervous before I arrived, as the course information said a film crew would be there! Thankfully the trainers were very reassuring and I only ‘fluffed my lines’ a couple of times in front of the cameras!

Learning to be interviewed on camera is not something that would immediately spring to mind when considering a career in insurance, but as with any industry these skills are increasingly crucial and it is great that the CII values such training.

Thanks for reading!

John Humphries BA (Hons) Dip CII (Claims)
Loss Adjuster

If you have any questions for John, you can connect with him on LinkedIn

18/02/2015 - New Discover Risk Blogger - John Humphries

Thanks for visiting. This is my first blog and, as is traditional, I’ll start by saying a bit about myself and why I’m promoting the insurance industry to you.

I grew up in the Manchester area and followed a fairly traditional path of school, college and university. On leaving university I came across an opportunity in an insurance claims services company, something I hadn’t previously considered. I quickly found that the work suited my skills and personality and realised that there were some great opportunities to progress.  

I gained some experience – starting with answering the phone and making coffee – and began to work on gaining Chartered Insurance Institute qualifications. I found this to be a real catalyst for my career and made a number of moves eventually leading to my current position.

Since 2012 I’ve been a loss adjuster with a leading global firm, McLarens. My work involves travelling to the scene of a loss, checking if it’s covered by the insurance policy and working out how much should be paid. Sounds simple right? Wrong!

Loss adjusting is as much art as science, and the real world rarely presents ‘textbook’ situations with an obvious answer. Losses such as fires, floods and thefts can be very complex and costly, and often have a huge emotional toll on the people involved.  

It’s a fascinating and engaging career and I will be discussing it in more detail in this blog over the coming months.

At the moment I’m involved with a great CII programme called ‘New Generation’, which combines training and networking opportunities with the chance to work with other members on a project to tackle a pressing issue in the industry.

For the most recent event, I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament in London, followed by a seminar with Jonathan Evans MP. It is precisely these sorts of opportunities that demonstrate how varied and interesting a career in risk can be.

The session with Jonathan Evans was an eye-opener in terms of the huge impact and importance that the insurance industry has in the UK. From legislation about ensuring homeowners have flood cover, to the regulation of the activities of top financial institutions, there is no doubt that the insurance industry is an important component of the UK economy and the time devoted to it by politicians demonstrates this.

Jonathan was formerly a member of the industry and has been a key advocate for insurance in recent years. There is a degree of uncertainty about who will take up this mantle going forward as Jonathan is standing down as an MP in May.

Careers Fair
I recently hosted a stand at a large careers event at a school in Wigan. In fact, you might have seen me there! If you did, please feel free to make contact with Discover Risk and investigate the opportunities available in insurance. On the website, you will find numerous apprenticeship and career positions with many of the leading firms across all aspects of the industry.

John Humphries BA (Hons) Dip CII (Claims)
Loss Adjuster

If you have any questions about John's work or this blog, you can contact John via LinkedIn

08/01/2015 - An introduction to cyber liability insurance

For my last blog I thought I would talk about a subject that I am passionate about in my job at Willis and a product that is receiving a lot of attention at the moment: cyber liability insurance.

Cyber liability insurance is, in my opinion, gaining massive attention at the moment for a number of reasons. Firstly, companies are more heavily relying on the internet for their source of income. Large retail companies for example are particularly exposed as more and more consumers take to the internet to do their shopping. If these networks were brought down due to a cyber attack, how much turnover do you think they would lose? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? An attack like this could put a company in financial turmoil.

Secondly, technology is an ever-growing landscape with software that needs to be constantly updated. This can be troublesome for small businesses that don’t have a dedicated IT department. Cyber criminals can take advantage of this out-of-date software to infiltrate a company’s network. Lastly, and maybe the most important, companies are seeing first-hand the effects of what a cyber-attack can do to them

Most recently something which you may have seen in the news or even been affected by, was the interruptions to the Sony and Xbox Live networks on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

It’s not that cyber liability insurance is a new product, it has been available for many years now, especially in the US where 47 out of 50 states make it mandatory through legislation to notify individuals of data breaches involving their personal information. However more companies, not only the large multinationals but also SMEs are now realising the benefits of holding cyber liability insurance.

What it covers

Cyber liability insurance looks to cover a variety of exposures if a company is subject to a cyber attack or loss of data. These covers can include costs a company would face to notify victims of the privacy breach, public relations expenses to help mitigate the impact to company reputation following a cyber attack and costs for cyber extortion, for example if a hacker or group of hackers hold a company’s network to ransom or threaten an attack against a company unless a sum of money is paid.

Understanding the cyber criminal’s mind

Something that has always interested me is understanding how a cyber attack could be carried out. For example, a company’s network could be interrupted through the transmission of malware attached to an email. There are also various social engineering techniques such as a hacker posing as an employee of a company contractor to gain access to the company’s building, allowing the hacker to transmit a virus/malware which could interrupt a company network. Further techniques used include contacting an employee direct to pose as a client to then obtain information necessary to interrupt a network.

The future of regulation

An important factor in the decision for companies when purchasing cyber liability insurance may be the new European Union legislation that is to be brought into effect which, like the US, would make it mandatory for EU companies to notify individuals of a privacy breach whilst also imposing harsher fines of up to 5% of turnover depending on the nature of the breach.

Today, when almost every company is dependent on a computer and telephone network, cyber liability insurance is slowly becoming a product that is to be relied on when a company faces a network interruption. In my opinion, this product should be considered by companies who not only rely on a network for day-to-day operations, but also hold a lot of sensitive data due to the potential for costs to be very high to notify all individuals of a data breach.

Thank you for reading my final Discover Risk blog. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about cyber liability insurance, please feel free to contact me through my LinkedIn account, which you can find here. If you would like to enquire about positions within Willis, please click here to be directed to the Willis careers page.

About Willis
Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world's leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our website,, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.

FINEX Global is a division of Willis that acts as a knowledge base for Willis worldwide, with our teams of experts in Financial, Executive and Professional Risks providing specialist advice and services to our clients and associates. FINEX Global are specialists in placing Directors & Officers Liability, Professional Indemnity, Cyber, Pension Trustee Liability, and Crime Insurance, Environmental Insurance and Mergers and Acquisitions.

03/12/2014 - Making the most of your apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is usually a structured programme that allows you to rotate through various departments or teams. This lets you gain a basic understanding of the organisation and its services.

This has been invaluable for me.  In fact, I believe this is a very important undertaking for all apprentices.

Rotating through departments can help in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help you to better understand your company; secondly, it shows how your role interlinks with what your colleagues and other teams do; for example, the strong relationship between underwriting and claims. This is vital as it gives you a rounded view and lets you understand how these teams could assist you in your job. It also gives you a chance to meet more people within your organisation (and gaining contacts is always useful!).

You will also be better equipped to serve your clients externally by understanding their requirements and how your organisation can assist. You may realise after a conversation with a client that it’s not actually the team you’re in that is best suited, but the team next to you.

I have found it useful to go that little bit further when it comes to enhancing my knowledge about the products that my organisation can offer.  You could request lunch-and-learn sessions with a senior colleague, do some wider reading on the product in your lunchtime, or if you are a broker (like me) you could speak to the product provider. By doing this, it shows your colleagues and your manager that you want to learn and progress in this area.

I have used all of the above tools and as a result was given the opportunity to attend an event which was focused entirely on the subject I was passionate about.  I was trusted to network with individuals and speak to them about the products that Willis can offer.

That said, if you are unsure about something or don’t know the exact answer to a client’s query, it is always best to ask a colleague as this too will reflect you in a positive light.  When a question is posed to you, the person asking doesn’t necessarily expect the answer to come from you, they just want the right information and if you are aware of the teams and people in your organisation and can point them in the right direction, this is just as important as the level of your own technical knowledge.

Thanks for reading my Discover Risk blog this month. If you would like to contact me regarding it, you can do so through my LinkedIn profile here.

30/10/2014 - Opportunities, networking and making yourself stand out from the crowd

As the title states, this month’s blog is all about opportunities, networking and making yourself stand out from the crowd (and there is so much more to this than wearing that flashy 3-piece suit you have tucked away in your wardrobe!).

Recently I have been fortunate enough to attend various networking and career events. One event was in London to mark the launch of the Insurance Apprenticeships Network, to make more people aware of the nation’s first industry-wide insurance apprenticeships programme (launched earlier this year). A few weeks after, I attended a Suffolk Careers fair where Willis were the lead sponsor for the Financial Services sector and I gave a brief talk about myself, my job role and how I joined Willis.

My first thought when invites came through was "These events will be a great opportunity to raise my profile internally, network and meet some key figures in the industry". If I had received this invite a few months after I joined Willis, networking would have been the first thing I would have dreaded.

In my opinion networking is one of the most important aspects of a young person’s career. This may be more so in insurance because of how important interpersonal skills are within the industry. That age-old adage of 'It’s not what you know, it’s who you know' springs to mind. Although this is not as essential for a school or college leaver as a more experienced professional, having good contacts is always helpful.

It is understandable for a young person to be out of their comfort zone when it comes to professional networking as it is such a change from everyday school or college life. Networking skills take time to develop and everyone has a different approach to starting that conversation off. How did you feel at your first networking event? If you were with a colleague, did this make it easier?

Over the last few years at Willis I have learned that networking isn’t all that daunting; remember, everyone at a networking event is in the same boat as you – they are there to network. There is nothing wrong with politely introducing yourself to other attendees. If you are there with a senior colleague, you may want to observe their behaviour around other professionals.

I believe having a sturdy network of contacts can bring about more opportunities, both internally and externally. I have found it is good to accept opportunities wherever you can, as this will raise your profile within the company making you stand out from your peers.

Although volunteering for events and opportunities can be good exposure for you, your day-to-day job and any required training should always come first. However, if you did want to take time out of work to attend an event, this should always be cleared with your line manager.

Thank you for reading my Discover Risk blog this month, if you would like to contact me you can do so through my LinkedIn profile here.

30/09/2014 - LinkedIn

If you are just starting your apprenticeship or first job, or have just finished college or uni, you may not be familiar with the concept of LinkedIn. In this month’s blog I will look at the benefits of LinkedIn and why I would suggest anyone who wants to build their professional network creates a profile.

LinkedIn is a free online-service that can be used to create a personalised business profile - I like to think of it as an online CV, but with extras. This profile can then be viewed by anyone that has access to the internet by way of a personal link to your page, a bit like Facebook.

This free service allows you to showcase yourself and your professional achievements, and you have the freedom to publish as little or as much as you wish. This is done by giving access to a ‘modular’ design where you can choose to fill in sections.

There are a wide range of sections from 'Volunteering and Causes' to 'Organisations' and 'Test Scores'. So if you would like people to know you volunteered for the local Youth Club, were President of your College Journalism Society or that you are particularly proud of some high test scores, you can publish it.

One of the sections I would encourage everyone to include and complete is the ‘Summary’ section. This is equivalent to a personal statement on your CV and in my opinion, the most important of your profile. It’s the equivalent of those first 30 seconds you have in a job interview to impress your potential future boss and the brief statement that distinguishes you from your peers. This is potentially the statement that determines whether a fellow LinkedIn member (or even a future employer) continues to view the rest of your profile.

Another reason why LinkedIn is a great business tool is that you can 'connect' with other users - this is your online networking tool. Connecting to like-minded individuals within the same industry is a great way to keep track of what is going on as updates from your connections appear on your homepage.  After an industry networking event for instance, you could connect with the individuals you met. I always like sending a direct message when sending an invite to connect as I feel it adds a personal touch.

LinkedIn also allows you to follow companies or individuals that interest or inspire you, and these are appropriately named 'Influencers'. This is the equivalent of connecting with them in that their updates appear on your homepage.

You can also join groups that other LinkedIn members have created. These groups usually have discussions between members ranging from questions about certain insurances to individual’s views on a current topic.

There is a lot to LinkedIn and the usefulness of the service is in no way outlined to the fullest in my blog this month, however if you did want to find out more there are a lot of useful articles and information available online

If you would like to contact me about this month’s blog, you can do so through my LinkedIn profile here.

01/09/2014 - Introductions and the choices that are available to us

Hi, and welcome to the latest series of blogs on Discover Risk. My name is Adam Marks and I work at one of the leading global risk advisors, insurance and reinsurance brokers in the world – Willis. I am pleased to say I will be the guest blogger for the next six months.

Insurance affects us all on a daily basis, be it a policy to cover damage or loss to our gadgets, car insurance purchased when we were learning to drive, or even a policy for our household pets. We are all surrounded by insurance in the simplest form but the industry is much wider reaching than this and many people are not aware of the whole story, or the opportunities that are available within it.

When I was at college I had no idea that I wanted to work in insurance (the joke is that everyone ‘falls’ in to insurance, which I agree is correct!).  All I did know was that I wanted to work in the financial services industry after taking an interest in this through my A level Economics course but didn’t know in what capacity.  I was undecided whether I wanted to go to university or straight in to full-time work.

What did assist me in deciding on insurance as my chosen career path was a two-week placement within Willis in the summer of 2011. This enabled me to gain a basic understanding of Willis and the insurance industry; it also looked great on my CV!  If you have the opportunity to undertake one, a placement within a company is a valuable experience.  It shows you have enthusiasm to explore the wider world of full-time work, and in my opinion, demonstrates to potential employers that you have a good work ethic. A placement may also be a crucial stepping stone in carving out your career path and gaining those valuable contacts within an organisation, as was the case for me…

A year later, I was back at Willis, this time in a full-time role on an Apprenticeship scheme. This enabled me to earn whilst learning through on-the-job training and studying for the globally recognised CII exams.

Due to the government recently lifting the cap on the number of places that universities can offer by 30,000 it may not seem that the popularity of Apprenticeships is growing, especially as a record number of 18-year-olds are making their way to university in September 2014.

However, figures from the National Apprenticeship Service (you can find them here) say otherwise. NAS states that there has been a “24% increase in Apprenticeship vacancies posted online on the Apprenticeship vacancies website between August and October 2013 (Academic Year Q1 2013/14) compared to the same period the previous year – 37,410 vacancies were advertised over the three months versus 30,230 in 2012”.

In addition, online applications leapt by 43% from 1 August 2013 to 31 October 2013 compared to the same period the previous year.

This shows willingness from employers to recruit through this method and an interest from young people leaving full-time education to take this route into their chosen career. Websites such as Discover Risk outline the benefits of Apprenticeships together with an in-depth view of a particular industry, which are invaluable in helping you gain a better understanding of what options are available after completing A levels; so it’s no surprise that this is an increasingly popular choice.

I hope you have enjoyed my first blog post. I welcome discussion on any topics raised and if you would like to contact me, please feel free to message me through LinkedIn; you can find my profile here.

24/06/2014 - CII Market Forum Event in Leeds

I was recently asked to attend a CII market forum event in Leeds. I was a guest speaker on a panel with other leading industry heads regarding young talent in the profession and how we can help shape the talent in the future.  I was there representing the CII as a member of the new generation programme – which I have blogged about previously.

I thought this specific part of the event was very relevant to Discover Risk and to any young person, student or graduate thinking about joining the insurance profession.

One of the hot topics raised for discussion was around Apprenticeships – whether or not this was something the sector wanted to get behind.  The answer was a big YES!  To be honest there wasn’t really any debate on whether or not this was something people supported.  It was a given. It got me thinking, what a great way for someone who does not hold a degree but really wants to be involved in financial services to gain experience and become qualified.  

I think sometimes the word ‘Apprenticeship’ can be misleading but the CII, insurance providers and training companies have worked together for a few years to promote Apprenticeships. They are funded programmes of learning which are delivered in the workplace.  Anyone over the age of 16 who does not hold a degree can enrol.  They play a key part in addressing the skills gaps that exist in the sector today.

If you look here on the CII website, it gives you more information on the structure of Apprenticeships. If you want to find out more and apply for opportunities just email

Another area that was touched on was mentoring and what this involved or meant to people.  It was established that everyone needs/has a mentor whether formally or informally to help them learn along the way.  Do people look to the CII to establish formal mentoring programmes?  What would you want as a new graduate in the sector?

Please tell me what you think by getting in touch on Linkedin.

22/05/2014 - The world of consulting...

By no means am I an expert at consulting, but after 3 months at KPMG, I am getting to grips with the business model and what is expected of a management consultant. This got me thinking that maybe that is what my blog could be about! What is a management consultant – at least from my point of view!

Management consultants help businesses improve their performance and grow by solving problems and finding new ways of doing things. This doesn’t just have to be in insurance or financial services, but they also support the public sector and other corporations that do not fall into financial services.

There seem to be two paths you can go down: to become a generalist or a specialist. If you decide to specialise in an area, then you are doing exactly what it says - specialising.  You apply specialised knowledge and processes to organisations and only work on projects in that area. If you are more of a generalist, you have a variety of skill sets that can sit across many different industries and functions. Your focus would be to know a little about a lot instead of a specialist which is to know a lot about a little.

Consulting is also a service profession which means its main focus is on client needs. You will always be working to help and service clients, so if you don’t really like working with people – consulting is not for you.

Within the insurance sector, I find that many people either start their career in consulting as a graduate, or they move into it after having 10+ years experience working within the industry. I think depending on what you like or want long-term for your career, either option is available and just as good.

For me, coming in as an experienced hire has worked really well. I understand my strengths and skill set already so I know what type of work to put myself forward for when those projects are available. The longer I’m here, the more I’m leaning towards becoming a specialist in a particular area – I think it suits me better.  

I find that education and qualifications within consultancies are highly regarded – similar to that of the industry. If you are going on a client site to an insurer or broker, it brings confidence to the client when a consultant shows up with qualifications from the Chartered Insurance Institute. The CII is a highly respected professional body within financial services and especially insurance.

Management consultants are always networking – whether this is inside the organisation, or external within the industry. Keeping up with internal propositions and external market issues is very important. Consultancy is a fast paced job and you must be flexible as the variability of work changes daily.

I’m happy to answer any questions if you have any – just message me on Linkedin by clicking here.

24/04/2014 - New role!

Sorry for the delay on my blog posts. This has been an interesting start to the year for me with some positive changes in my career.

I have always worked for a broker, whether in the US or the UK. The broker market has been my industry 'patch' - it's what I know.

When I was offered an opportunity to step away from that, I have to say all sorts of thoughts were going through my head.

Of course, you go through what most people go through when thinking about moving this something I want to do? Is this something I'd enjoy? Is it going to give me the experience I need in my career?

It didn't take my long then to realise that moving to KPMG in a management consultancy role was exactly what I needed - something different, something that was going to take me out of my comfort zone.  

I have been there for two months and I absolutely love it. Whilst the way of working is very different and something that takes time to get your head around, I think I'm finding my feet. For example, instead of sitting on a bank of desks with your team, in consulting you are working for clients, so you are hardly ever in the office. When you are in, it doesn't mean that others in your team are, leaving very little chance for you to meet everyone.

Another difference I'm seeing is that every day you can be at a different client site, working on a different project doing something completely different. It keeps you on your toes, but most importantly ensures you are always learning and working with new people.

As I continue to immerse myself in the world of consulting, I'm sure I'll start to have some interesting posts that I can't wait to share with you.

Alissa Ristic is a management consultant at KPMG. Click here for Alissa's LinkedIn profile.

03/12/2013 - The Chartered Insurance Institute

When I finished my MSc at Cass Business School and started working for Simply Business, I immediately wanted to sit the examinations for the Advanced Diploma in Insurance professional qualification, also known as the ACII. 

When I moved to London from the US I immediately noticed the number of employees that talked about the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the respect that both employees and employers had for this professional body.  Not only did the industry highly respect the CII, but Cass Business School integrated the MSc Insurance and Risk Management degree with the qualification.
Upon finishing my MSc I was told how I could progress to become ACII qualified. Depending on previous education you can apply for exemptions to certain exams! I found this to be amazing and really helped expedite the process.  To apply for exemptions all you have to do is send in your University transcripts which show your modules and marks given, and the CII will tell you which exams you are exempt from, due to the courses you have already completed. How easy is that?!

Now comes study time!  I would say that most companies I came across were really supportive of continuing education and Simply Business were not any different.  They paid for all the materials I needed for the exams and even gave me study days.  It helped relieve some of the pressure of always having to find time. 

The CII also does everything possible to support you when sitting exams.  They have study days, flash cards, previous exam papers, etc.  Basically any learning style out there, the CII supports.

When I finished with my exams, I continued developing with the CII - and in 2010 I attained Chartered status.  This is definitely something I am quite proud of and is highly commended at Simply Business.

Of course becoming professionally qualified is great, but that isn?t the only thing the CII has to offer.  The more you search on their website the more you will see how you can get involved and help develop your career.  

For example, this year I am taking part in their New Generation Programme which calls for future leaders in each of the different faculty areas (Claims, Underwriting, Broking and London Market) to work together on a project that we believe could make a difference to the insurance profession.  This is a great opportunity for me to meet others in the industry outside of my day-to-day interactions, but also I?m getting the opportunity to work on a bigger project that relates to the general profession.

The CII really does have something for everyone!  Have a look around their website to see what you can get involved in .  Be proactive because there really is an ample amount of events and learning material to help you get to the next stage in your career.

Connect with Alissa on Linkedin by clicking here.

05/11/2013 - How to network successfully

This is something that absolutely has to be done in the business world, but the big question is - How do I do this without feeling awkward?  My only advice is - it takes time.

I can honestly say having been in the industry for over 10 years, I am still not always comfortable when networking.  I feel like some people are just really good at it, confident, and know what to say. For others it is something that develops over time. 

When I first started going to events that required networking, I would literally stand there and wait for someone to come over and talk to me.  Then, feeling really uncomfortable that nobody would, I would leave there thinking - well this was awful, uncomfortable and not something I like doing.

My boss at the time knew this was an area of struggle for me, so made it one of my personal objectives to help me overcome the ''awkward'' feeling.

So... what I did to help me (bear in mind I'm a planner and love a good process)...

I always tried to find someone with more experience than me to attend the event with me.   I enjoyed walking around with them and learning from them.  I found it more comfortable for someone else to start the conversation and then introduce me in.  By this point I was relaxed and the hard part of the introduction was over.  I could find my stride and build my confidence.

If you are going alone and in a lot of cases you will be, ahead of any conversation, have a ''standard'' approach.

I would prepare exactly what I wanted to say when someone asked... 'where do you work?' or 'what do you do?'.

If you formulate your response in a way that creates another question from the person, but a question that you are expecting, you gain confidence in leading the conversation.  Conversation should begin to flow naturally from there.

The other thing that worked for me is having at least 3 questions in the back of my mind that I would ask people to keep conversation flowing.  So have your opening line memorised, and then come up with 3 questions that you can ask anyone and everyone at the event.  Then you know you are never left standing in silence.

When coming up with your 3 questions, try to keep in mind what the event is about, what you are trying to get out of being there, and who/what companies you would like to speak to. Preparing this ahead of time will help you have a plan of action!  Anytime I have a plan of action, my confidence shines through.

Lastly, try to remember that everybody there is human.  Everybody had to start somewhere so has been in the exact same position that you are in now.  People don't find it weird getting approached and actually meeting new people is a great thing!

Don't give up.  If anything, try to attend more networking events. The more you do, the more confident you will get and you will actually start to enjoy it!

Connect with Alissa on LinkedIn by clicking here.

21/10/2013 - How to get the work/life balance right

I personally think that this is a really hard topic, which is why I decided to write about it.  When I was first starting in my career and people talked about how I needed to balance this better, I sort of rolled my eyes and thought they just didn't understand my career ambitions.

As a graduate, I made a decision in my 2nd week that I wasn't ever going to leave the office before my boss did.  Boy - was that a crazy idea!  I ended up being in the office for 12/14 hours a day!  And when you are in your early 20's this is NOT ideal.  I ended up not enjoying the job at all, resenting my boss a little for absolutely no reason and deciding that this was not the type of job I wanted to continue working in.

Now, 10+ years on I look back at my journey and laugh at the things that went through my head back then.  I of course can justify all my reasons behind this, but I'd like to think I have learned a few things over the years.

I am still very ambitious and work more than 40 hours a week all the time!  However, I make sure that there is definitely a balance in my life.  I think this has actually helped me to really enjoy working and to push myself harder.  What I like to constantly remind myself is that it's not about the hours I work in the day, but the quality of work I produce in a day.  People seem to forget that a lot.

At Simply Business we really try and have the mentality of work hard ? play hard.  Our CEO ? Jason Stockwood is focused on making the working environment here one to enjoy.  I think that is hard to imagine when you think of the Insurance Industry, but if you research Simply Business you will see that we like to be different.

When reading this post, if you are thinking - what can I do to help maintain a better work-life balance; I found a few things from the Mental Health Foundation that you can do!

- Speak up when work expectations and demands are too much.  Employers need to be aware of where the pressures lie in order to address them.
- Try to 'work smart, not long'.  This involves tight prioritisation - allowing yourself a certain amount of time per task -  and trying not to get caught up in less productive activities, such as unstructured meetings that tend to take up a lot of time.
- Take proper breaks at work! For example - take at least a half hour for lunch and try getting out of the workplace if you can.
- Try to ensure a line is drawn between work and leisure.  If you do need to bring work home, try to only work in a certain area of your home - and can close the door on it!
- Recognise the importance of protective factors including exercise, leisure activities, hanging out with friends.  These things can really reduce stress levels.

Just remember, that even if you are ambitious, it does not mean you have to work ridiculous hours to get to the top.  Work hard and efficient! The more of a balance you create in your life the happier you should be and your work will reflect that!

To connect with Alissa on LinkedIn click here.

03/10/2013 - Show initiative. Simple!

Some of you are starting to look for graduate opportunities, whilst others may have already had your first day.  This can all be very exciting but also a bit daunting moving into the next phase of your life.  As you jump into this next phase, I can't stress the importance of not sitting back and relaxing because you think ''I have a job!''  The job market is tight, and you need to show that you are willing to learn and genuinely want to be there.

During your first few months starting at a new company, your boss will usually provide a structured program that helps you get involved, meet people, and understand the business.  But what else can you do that sets you apart from the other graduates?

Show initiative!

Now one might ask what does that mean, or how can I do that?!

Initiative does not mean over kill.  It is not getting involved in everything possible, or taking on too much work that you fall behind. 

Initiative is going that extra mile to understand something or finding a solution that will benefit the company.  Sometimes this will require not being directly asked, but you understanding the needs of what your boss is asking you to do and doing it. 

Some ways you could show your initiative is:

Challenge yourself to try or learn something new each week that was not asked of you.

Find a mentor - this will help you to understand areas of the business outside of your day to day priorities.

If you see something that needs to be done, do it!  If it is really difficult in your office to do this in your early days, then sit down with your boss and explain what you would like to do.  They will confirm whether or not this is possible. 

Don't be afraid to make a decision.  Understand the requirements, do your research and make an educated decision.  It's ok to be wrong - that is how you learn!

Volunteer whenever possible!  Make sure you aren't volunteering for everything so that your work is rushed because you have too much on.  Find a balance.

As a graduate you have a fresh start to the business world, so the opportunities for you can be endless.  The future of your knowledge is in your hands, so grab hold of it and show your boss what you want and go after it!

Why not connect with Alissa on Linkedin - just click here.

10/09/2013 - What it's really like to be an intern in the risk sector - Philosophy, Politics and Economics student Astrid Nestius-Brown reveals all.

I hadn't expected to be doing an internship in insurance, my main interest being in business strategy. But after meeting with recruiters from Simply Business at my university careers fair I was encouraged to apply to work as an intern on their International Project to aid their expansion abroad. Simply Business is an online business insurance broker who is known for being innovative and challenging the status quo within the insurance industry. 

I was put under the instruction of the International Project Manager, who had until this point been working on the project alone. He had put together an induction plan for me for the first week which was very helpful. I had various meetings and tutorials with him and people across the business to understand how the business works and to learn more about insurance and the international project. It didn't take long for the basic picture of how the insurance industry works to fit together. Once the fundamental structure of the industry; insurers, brokers, MGAs and consumers is understood, it gets a lot easier to keep up with things. There is also an 'insurance language' to get to grips with. People would talk about MGAs and RFQs and to start with I had to keep asking what on earth they were talking about! But I soon picked it up. 

Throughout my internship I got given a lot of responsibility and was given the opportunity to do a wide variety of tasks. The main effort of the international project during my internship was to set up an online business insurance lead generation trial abroad. The purpose of the trial was to make connections in the insurance industry and to gather market information customer appetite and competitors. I got given the task of researching competitors and potential broker partners whom we could sell the insurance leads. Between us, the International Project Manager and I discussed our plans with a number of brokers- sometimes doing conference calls as early as 7.00am due to the time difference! I was even given the chance to carry out some of the negotiations with potential broker partners myself. It was really rewarding when we were successful in signing agreements with partners. I also worked on putting together the website for the trial. Not only did I learn a lot about website design and online search advertising but also a lot about business insurance from putting together the content of the web pages. Most exciting was that I got the opportunity to oversee the international project during my bosses two week holiday, which was a really valuable experience. There were some slightly less glamorous tasks, like doing research on the licensing and taxation regulation for insurance, but I did learn a lot from these. I also got to do a tour of Lloyd's one day which was a lot of fun! 

As for Simply Business itself, I got to learn about how the firm used a progressive 'Agile' business model to ensure their tech teams and business teams worked together to produce the most effective online broking system. It was very interesting to work for a broker that  was so forward thinking in terms of new technology and the industry. Everyone had a very energetic approach and was also very friendly. Everyone was really willing to help; all I had to do was ask! I often worked with others in business; from IT systems, to branding specialists and the partnerships team. There were also some great team bonding activities like the company trip to do white water rafting. 

Some people have the perception that the insurance industry can be a bit stagnant but this definitely wasn't my experience at Simply Business. I certainly learnt a lot; my communication, strategic negotiation, research, problem solving and computer skills have all definitely improved. I found the people I worked with to be innovative and creative. The work itself was also interesting, particularly as someone who enjoys communicating with others, working in a team and problem solving. I would certainly recommend checking out a career in the insurance industry to anyone who these things appeal to. 

Alissa Ristic, Head of Claims at Simply Business, is our usual blogger and you can expect to hear more from her next week.  In the meantime, you can connect with Alissa on LinkedIn by clicking here

23/08/2013 - Applying for jobs? Alissa Ristic's second blog post couldn't be timelier...

Interview Skills

I know this is probably a topic that you hear a lot about, but you would be surprised at the number of people I have interviewed where I walked out thinking... seriously?!

This post is a little insight into the mind of an interviewer, or at least my mind when interviewing.

First impressions - they say a lot about a person.  I have three things I feel are a must; stand up when the interviewer walks in, give a firm hand shake, and make eye contact.  This displays confidence immediately.

Come Prepared - do your research about the company and understand the details of the job role. 

Nobody expects you to know everything about the business; however just enough that shows you went to the website to read about what goes on.

When it comes to the job role, try to understand how your skill set matches key components in the job description.  Even with little to no work experience you can still highlight academic achievements that would acknowledge your strengths in this area.

Relax - try not to be nervous.  I know that's easier said than done, but remember - it is only a conversation.   You need to be interviewing the employer in the same way they are interviewing you.  Culture is a big part of every organization, so you need to be sure the people you meet are the people you would like to work with.  Trust me when I say that you can tell whether or not a company and their culture fit your style.

Show Passion - This is definitely something I look for in everyone.  Be passionate about something... ANYTHING!  Even if it has nothing to do with the job role.  I think it is great to see someone light up when they talk about what truly interests them.  It helps me gauge whether or not I think you could be passionate about the job further down the line and what that would look like.

In many companies you will have at least two interviews. The first is usually a single person talking at a high level around the job role and your skills.  The second is more detailed and one can expect to be interviewed by 4 or 5 different people.  It can be exhausting so make sure you are well rested.  You want to be sure you are at your best with each interviewer because after you leave, they do go into a room and discuss.

At Simply Business we don't just discuss whether or not a candidate is good for the role, but whether or not we would be excited to work with you.  It's easy to say "yeah, they are good, I can work with them" but can we say "yeah, they are good; I'm really excited to work with them".  In order to receive that feedback means you have to have something different/excitable about you.  What is that for you? 

I do remember my first time interviewing when I graduated and it can be daunting.  Remember, an employer wants to find someone for that role, and the sooner the better!  So similar to how you graduated by going after your degree ? go after your interview with confidence and commitment.  Don't be afraid to talk about yourself and what you do well! 

To connect with Alissa on LinkedIn click here.

12/08/2013 - Welcome to our new blogger - Alissa Ristic ACII

Hello - and welcome to the latest Discover Risk blog!  My name is Alissa Ristic and I'll be your blogger for the next 16 weeks.  I thought I would start off with my first post giving some detail around my background and career journey to date. 

I am from Atlanta, Georgia in the US but currently living in London working for Simply Business as Head of Claims.  I have not always been in claims; actually it was never an area I considered whilst in University.  It was a career opportunity that later developed that I couldn't turn down. That is the beauty about working in insurance.  The opportunities are endless.

One might ask how did I even know about insurance when I was 18?!

I was persuaded by my mom to get into the wonderful world of insurance - particularly actuarial science.  I was always good with numbers so thought why not.  Besides I didn't have any other ideas at the time on a career.

Once graduating from University I started working for a Managing General Agency (MGA) as an actuarial/product analyst. I felt it was the perfect start to my career because I was learning the basics on how to price and reserve for motor insurance.

After 3 years, I realized that I wanted to be more involved on the client side and got a new job with a broker in the Private Clients area.  I found this very exciting working with individuals that were on Forbes 400 list

During this time I also applied and was accepted into the MSc Risk Management and Insurance programme at Cass Business School - City University in London.  I thought where better to study and learn than in the heart of the insurance industry - London!

I was very fortunate that the broker I worked for in Atlanta was global, so they gave me the opportunity to work in their London office part-time while I was studying.  So, off I went to spend one year in London studying and working.

That was probably the fastest year of my life! Before I knew it, I was graduating and trying to figure out what I was going to do next.  I had not planned on staying in London longer than a year, but I loved it! 

I did what anyone in my shoes would do. I set some targets and gave myself some time to find a job I was truly interested in.  That is when I came across Simply Business.  They offered me a chance to be involved in a company that were trying to be different in the industry.  How could I say no?!  And here I am... 6 years later still enjoying Simply Business.


16/07/2013 - Yousuf's last post - a world of opportunity in an exciting and dynamic profession

One of the most common questions I get asked when telling people where I work is why I chose insurance. The old joke is always that nobody chooses insurance and instead people fall into it.

In fact the joke is probably a bit out of date now with more and more universities offering degrees that contain some insurance background and insurance companies devoting more energy to university careers fairs. Many insurance employers are now talking directly to students and advertising the industry as an exciting place to work.

It was through a careers fair that I first found out about Allianz. I remember the companies were lined up in alphabetical order; on the left hand side was the Army and the right hand side was Allianz. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had gone the other way that day!

Before then, I had never really considered insurance as a career but it was the commitment to constant professional development and the chance to gain industry qualifications that really appealed to me.  

Since I've been working for Allianz I've had the opportunity to represent the company at various university fairs and I've seen the effort that insurance companies are making to advertise the variety of avenues a career in insurance can offer you.

Combining this with the work insurers are doing on their brand awareness, hopefully more aspiring graduates will look to insurance as a potential career.

Certainly talking to friends who joined graduate schemes in other professions, they have not had the range of exposure, training or professional qualifications that are offered in insurance. Often in graduate schemes you are trained so that you are qualified for a particular role and there is always a concern that you might be pigeonholed.

In insurance though, there really is a massive range of opportunities once you have built the foundations. From the technical, sales and operational roles of an insurance company to the opportunities in broking or loss adjusting and beyond there really is lots of opportunity.

To keep in touch with Yousuf why not add him to your LinkedIn network - click here to connect.

28/03/2013 - Specialisation is key for a successful underwriting career

When you join an insurance company on a graduate scheme you often rotate across different teams and different divisions but it is vital not to forget about the importance of specialising and learning the key core technical skills.

Most graduate schemes have an element of rotation and whilst there is a great deal of benefit in having a wide exposure to different areas of insurance, it is also key to specialise in an area to gain the skills necessary to take a more senior position in the company.

This is particularly true in underwriting in commercial business. Whilst internal and external academy exams can be incredibly helpful to improve your technical skills, there is no substitute for experience and it is only by underwriting a variety of trades of different sizes that you gain the technical skills necessary to take a senior level within a commercial insurance company.

Underwriting is such a core part of insurance (especially for an underwriting-led company like Allianz) that if you want to be successful you need to have a firm understanding of underwriting and that can only be achieved with experience.

Whilst moving from new business and existing business can provide you with valuable diversity and help improve your trading skills you will still be maintaining and developing your underwriting skills which are crucial if you want a career as an underwriter.

Similarly, moving from underwriting different classes of insurance can often limit the depth of your underwriting knowledge. There is certainly nothing wrong with trying different classes of business whilst you try and find out what you would like to do in the future but you should also remember the importance of specialising.

Sometimes people entering a graduate scheme come in with an ambition of being a general manager but it is important to remember why you are being recruited and the skills that you need to be successful in the industry is key.

With more and more redundancies in the public sector, there are more and more general manager roles available in the job market and so there is more of a premium on technical specialist. Whilst there is certainly no problem with trying a range of different things and a broad exposure is often beneficial, it is essential not to lose the benefits of specialisation.

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile.

19/03/2013 - Understanding broking - essential to being a successful underwriter

One of the most informative fortnights of my insurance career came when I spent a fortnight working in a broker's office.

It was a few months after I started working for Allianz that I was given the opportunity to spend some time working with a supportive broker and I jumped at the chance to understand a little bit more about our customers.

Whilst as an underwriter you communicate with brokers on a daily basis and often go out and visit brokers it wasn't until I actually spent time in their office that I was able to get an understanding of what their motivations and challenges were and there were numerous learning points to take from that time.

A common frustration for underwriters is the problem of trying to obtain the necessary information from the broker in order to underwrite the risk. However it is only when you spend time working in a brokers office that you begin to really appreciate how challenging it is for them to obtain the same information from the client.

Similarly, when you work for a large insurance company you often think of a premium as just part of a broad portfolio but it is only when you watch a broker talking about getting money from a client that you understand how real it actually is!

It is crucial as an underwriter to understand exactly how a broker chooses where to place business and how you can influence their placement strategy. Often when you start out you look at risks on a case by case basis but when you spend time at a brokers you appreciate how they look at their placement strategy as blocks of business and it is crucial to understand this if you want to be a successful underwriter.

Ultimately brokers are our customers and anything we can do to understand their motivations and concerns can only be helpful. This is particularly the case when you work in new business and are trying to convince a broker to place more business with your insurer.

It is quite surprising how few underwriters I have come across have actually had a background in broking but understanding how they operate and what motivates them is crucial to being successful as an underwriter.

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile.

20/02/2013 - The importance of networking

One of the enjoyable aspects of being a member of the CII is the chance to attend the annual dinners that local institutes organise. I've been lucky enough to attend a number of different dinners from Inverness to Kent and they are always an excellent opportunity to expand your professional network.

Typically they start with some pre-dinner drinks followed by the dinner and after-dinner speeches. It's following the speeches, though, that the really interesting part starts as you get the chance to network.

When people think of networking they often think of meeting their customers. Working for an insurer, networking does offer the opportunity to meet with brokers but there is also the chance to link in with others in the sector.

It's easy to forget the size of the risk profession when you are doing your day-to-day role but these dinners are a great opportunity to appreciate its breadth. They offer the chance to meet people working for loss adjustors, lawyers, brokers, other insurance companies and a range of other people whom you may well need to deal with later on in your career.

It's hard not to exaggerate the importance of having a strong network. Both in terms of needing assistance when doing your current job and to being in people's thoughts when it comes to future roles, ensuring that you have a profile in your local sector is incredibly beneficial.

In addition to this there are also opportunities to get involved in the running of your local institute. This is a great way to give something back and also gives you the opportunity to work closely with some of the senior members of the profession in your local area.

Some institutes have a specific young persons' section with their own committee which is a great way to initially get involved. These are often crying out for new members who want to be more active.            

Ultimately if insurance is your chosen profession then why wouldn't you want to play a role in the body that helps promote professionalism in the sector?

As well as giving you great exposure to others in the profession and being something valuable to put on your CV, it allows you to help shape how the sector organises.

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile.

15/01/2013 - ACII achieved in under two years with support from Allianz

Shortly after I started working for Allianz, I started studying for my CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance (known by its designatory letters ACII), the internationally recognised professional qualification for the insurance sector.

In many ways the best time to do this is when you first join the company, as you are still in study mode and the experience of sitting and passing exams is still very much fresh in your mind.

The CII qualifications are a really important part of increasing the professionalism of our sector and putting us on a par with trusted professions with similar qualifications like accountants and architects.

I was given a great deal of support from Allianz when studying for my ACII with time off work to study as well as group tuition to help me pass my exams. You can get some exemptions if you have a related degree and I was also able to get some exemptions for passing some modules of our internal Underwriting Academy.

A combination of this and sitting two exams at each of the two sessions a year meant I was able to achieve my ACII in less than two years.

You are able to get 10% added to your exam mark if you complete and pass the continuous assessments (coursework) which can take some of the pressure off the final exam. Whilst the exams aren't easy and there is a significant time commitment involved, it really is an investment in your future which is well worth making.

As well as these exams assisting you in your day job, the breadth of exams that you need to sit also ensures that you have a good understanding of all aspects of insurance which provides an excellent foundation for whatever career path you end up taking.

The qualifications have the added benefit that they increase your employability also. As well as a broad knowledge of the sector and a capability to learn, they also show a real commitment to your profession and it is unsurprising that more and more employers are expecting potential employees to have achieved their ACII.

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile

03/01/2013 - Moving 450 miles for an exciting secondment opportunity

One of the exciting things about working for a large company like Allianz is that there are often opportunities to undertake secondments in different parts of the company.
I'm currently halfway through a secondment in our Small Business team in Maidstone. This presents a chance to learn about a different area of the business and, in doing so, expand my skillset.

There are many more functions to an insurance company than I first realised when I joined the profession. Going on a secondment is an excellent way of learning about them. It has exposed me to different roles without committing me to any particular career change.

It does mean having to be flexible on where you are based and for me this involved making a 450 mile journey from working in Glasgow to our Small Business team in Maidstone! It has been well worth as I have a variety of experience to help me make informed decisions about my future career.

Another advantage on going on a secondment is the opportunity to broaden your network. Building your profile in a company is so important and the wider your network and the more people you leave with a good impression of you, the better.

My own move was a big change for me, as I moved to an area with no family or friends. It isn't easy (especially when you suddenly have to learn how to clean and cook for the first time!) but I haven't regretted it for a moment.

I started my career working in a branch where you quoted on fewer cases that were larger and more complex. Moving from that to an environment where you deal with a large number of cases has been a bit of a culture shock, but it has also meant that I've been able to increase my underwriting knowledge by looking at such a large number of risks. That is something I would never have achieved if I hadn't undertaken this secondment.

The chance to work in a different area is invigorating and it ensures that there is no chance of drifting into a comfort zone - it's true what they say, a change really is as good as a rest!

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile

11/12/2012 - My first month at Allianz

Looking back to when I first started working in Allianz, I can still remember the fear that I had that I would get found out for not knowing anything about insurance.

The reality couldn't be any more different. When you join a graduate scheme you are not expected to have any knowledge of insurance and instead it is your capacity and willingness to learn that they are interested in.

My first month was the steepest learning curve that I've ever experienced. I tried to get my head around our company's products, how the wider industry operates, the expectations of the graduate scheme, sitting CII exams and learning the principles of underwriting.

The expectation is that you will be a bit bamboozled at first but the best thing that you can do is to ask as many questions as you can. There really is no such thing as a stupid question and the best advice that I was given is to ask about everything you don't understand.

My first week was spent at our training centre in Surrey where we were given a thorough induction into the company. There were speeches from a number of our directors as well an overview of the basics of insurance.

Whilst you will have plenty of time to learn about insurance in your career, the chance to learn about the company's priorities from those who run it is invaluable. It is also an opportunity to network with others who have joined the graduate scheme. Over the coming years they will end up taking a variety of roles across all different parts of the company so this is a really useful opportunity.

Working for a commercial insurance company, we only talk to brokers rather than the end customer and I was extremely nervous about going out to visit a broker when I first joined. I was very concerned about what they would ask me and what their expectations of me would be.

However, building relationships with brokers is an important part of the job and the best thing you can do is get involved as quickly as possible. One of our business developers took me out to see a broker within my first fortnight and the experience was invaluable in getting used to interacting with our customers.

On reflection, my first month flew by but the things that I learned and the exposures that I was given gave me the foundations for my insurance career and it wasn't anywhere near as scary as I thought it would be!

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile.

27/11/2012 - The Graduate Application

Welcome to our new guest blogger Yousuf Hamid.  Yousuf is a Graduate Assistant Underwriter at Allianz and he'll be sharing his experiences with you over the next two months.  His kicks off his first blog with an insight into the graduate application process...  

I recently celebrated my second anniversary of joining the Allianz underwriting graduate programme. Given that this is the time of year when many are applying for graduate schemes and insurance careers, I thought it would be good to describe my experiences of applying for the Allianz graduate scheme.

I found out about the Allianz graduate scheme through my university careers fair. I initially applied online and was invited to an interview in the branch I was hoping to work in.

I then attended an assessment day with a number of other applicants. This comprised a competency-based interview, a role play, a SWOT analysis and a presentation. After this session, I was invited back to the branch for a final interview with the Regional Manager before I was offered the job.

There are many statistics about graduate unemployment in the news, and the number of graduates chasing each job, so it is more important than ever to make sure that you stand out from the crowd in your initial application and then the interviews following this.

As most applicants have a good degree and a solid academic record at school, consider what else you can discuss in an interview to show the additional skills that you have. Extracurricular activities have become very important. These may come from a part-time job, a sports club or societies that you participate in at university.

The skills and attributes required for different roles will be shown on companies' websites. Focus on demonstrating the ones you have and consider where development may be required for others. Make sure you have different examples for each competency.

What did I do?  I was news editor of my student newspaper and a member of the debating society which enabled me to prove communication and leadership skills. 

The old adage of 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail' is never more true than for graduate interviews. Whilst most companies accept that you will be applying for a wide range of employers, they will expect you to have researched the company and the scheme that you are applying for. You can expect questions about the company and what aspects of the sector appeal to you, so make sure you do your research.

And, of course, the most important advice for the day of an interview or an assessment is to relax and be yourself. The best way to come across well in an interview is to let your true personality come out.

Click here for Yousuf's LinkedIn profile.

13/08/2012 - £20,000+ Private Client Insurances (Broker perspective)

As the headline suggests, this refers to the premium value of home insurance for private clients that our industry refer to as 'high net worth'.

This is not your standard household insurance and for a private client, with this level of premium spend much of what they need along with the protection of assets is the broker's guidance and advice.

The broker will establish with the client what type of lifestyle they lead and how this affects cover; ensuring any subjectivity is met. In addition a broker will advise on risk management practices to help improve the client's attitude to risk and will recommend third parties to assist with any peripheral needs a client may have.

At renewal the broker will review the risk with the client to ensure there are no issues or major changes; a new baby for example could bring a nanny into the home who would need to be noted on the policy and may need to drive cars or be included on travel cover. Insistence here for the client to use a professional firm, obtain references and conduct at least 2 interviews would be prudent guidance to offer the client.

At this level of premium spend it is also likely that the risk will encompass multi locations; namely second and holiday homes and could include motor and or marine cover. This means a well informed and versatile approach is needed to ensure any changes are communicated to the client.

A good recent example is the new French law whereby breathalysers are required to be kept in the car. Any clients with French homes who travel by car would need to be reminded about this fact to help them avoid any trouble whilst enjoying a short break to there home.

The time involved varies but what it does offer is a varied and interesting role in providing solutions for client's insurance requirements. No two risks are the same.

Christopher Digby |

27/07/2012 - Renewals/Client Servicing (Broker Perspective)

Different brokers operate different models when it comes to client servicing. This can vary from business to business and may have something to do with the type of client or geographical location.

For me I get to deal with not only the business side of broking but also a full client lifecycle. After winning a new client (and not including claim management) the next most important stage in the client relationship is renewal.

I always try to operate on a pre-renewal contact basis. This means contacting the client prior to receiving renewal terms to acknowledge to the client that renewal is pending. It is also the opportunity to clarify with the client whether there have been any changes in risk information.

At this stage it is also good to explain to the client what changes have occurred in our market over the past 12 months and whether there are any specific insurer changes to mention. This prepares the client and enables them to include a point of reference when they review the renewal invitation.

Other aspects to consider at this stage and which have a bearing on the renewal process are:

-          negotiate best terms with existing insurer

-          ascertain whether a wider review is needed

-          manage insurer relationships by not wasting time

-          ensuring best practice and clients interests are maintained throughout

-          use Defaqto or other supporting evidence when comparing products

Once renewal terms from the existing insurer have been received and a decision has been made on what to offer the client it is important to get these to the client as soon as possible.

Some clients will be happy with receiving everything in the post or by email or in person; whichever method your client prefers always try and offer this or at least refer to it should it not be possible/practical in the first instance.

The final part is of course securing instructions and of course payment!

Christopher Digby |

25/06/2012 - Disclosure

Our industry is big on disclosure as it is this information which helps shape a picture of the risk in question. Disclosure relates to all information which would influence an underwriter's decision when considering offering terms.

There is an industry debate in relation to what is relevant, what a client should know and how this is collated. H
owever, I do not want to delve into that argument here. I want to provide commentary in relation to non-disclosure.

Insurers need to protect there position and ensure the risks they write are consistently matched to the underwriting criteria and appetite. Disclosure of certain information may be necessary but may not have an effect or may just result in finding the insurer that specialises in that area; speeding ticket for motor insurance, working from home for home insurance, volunteer/intern staff for commercial insurance.

However, this is not the disclosure we are talking about. We are talking about risk influencing information, which if provided at inception would have dramatic differences in either the terms being offered or withdrawn. It is these situations that normally cause the problem and only normally occur at point of claim.

The other issue is that not all non-disclosure is fraudulent and relates back to the argument about what a client would know to disclose or whether an insurer should be specific. 

The content of non-disclosure can be very contentious, subjective and regardless of right or wrong is always seen by consumers and the wider public as "insurers wriggling out of a claim". What I think this highlight's is two key areas: education and professionalism. 

Our industry via the CII, BIBA and other channels is proactively trying to educate government, business and the wider public on understanding how insurance works.

In addition the CII is continuing the drive on professionalism in the marketplace which will help brokers to be more confident in winning the right business and reducing the likelihood of these situations occurring.

Christopher Digby |

24/05/2012 - Moral Risk

This week a good example of moral risk has occurred which made me think about how little I have actually seen of this, from a broking perspective, yet is an integral part of risk review and acceptance. (I do not mean new cases presented whereby the clients occupation or public profile cause a concern - that is a separate issue, more down to niche business understanding than moral risk)

For the majority of broking and underwriting roles the regular focus is on the physical risks of an insured peril occurring and what can be done to mitigate potential loss.

In the instance of fire for example, a mains wired fire detection could be installed which is monitored by an alarm company and could be complimented internally with a sprinkler system, fire extinguishers and fire blankets in kitchen areas. This represents tools and practices which would help mitigate a loss occurring and if so hopefully to a lesser extent than if these features were not in force.

So what is moral risk and how does it occur? Moral risk for most brokers would appear at point of claim. This means that loss or damage has occurred which is arguably down to the clients own personal gross negligence or willful destruction. In many cases these claims can be hard for an insurer to refuse and therefore they will still end up with a liability.

Post loss and at renewal many insurers will then decline to offer terms on 'moral' grounds. This means that the underwriter is not confident in the client's character and attitude to damage and claims.

For a broker this creates a number of challenges; how to manage this with the client and of course how to find alternative cover. With a declinature being a material fact and the grounds of moral risk being quoted as the reason, this creates a very daunting challenge.

As it seems with most of the issues and challenges our industry face, I believe the answer always comes down to education and information. As a broker we need to educate our client and as a broker we need to provide as much relevant, useful and supporting information as possible to potential alternative providers.

Christopher Digby |

14/05/2012 - Variety of Risk - interesting job?

When choosing a job or career there is always a worry about whether it will be right for you, interesting and what the prospects are.

Hopefully those considering a career in risk will already begin to see the potential and rewards the industry has to offer in terms of learning, development and of course, package.

However, on a day to day point of view I also wanted to reiterate the 'variety of risk' which in my opinion counts towards having an interesting job.

There are many types of risks covered by different classes of insurance; for example the risk of fire, flood and storm is covered by Home insurance and it would also be covered under other classes of business, such as commercial property owners, business, aviation etc. The variety is not just in the risks themselves, but the classes they apply to.

From a 'private client' perspective the variety also comes from managing insurance requirements for various different types of people and the lifestyles they lead. This leads to a wide variety of risks to consider and insure against. One client for example has insured buildings, contents, jewellery, motor bike, motor cars and is now looking at a small aircraft! Plenty to keep you interested!

There is as wide a variety in the job roles as the risks themselves and by no means is a career in risk a dull option to take.


Christopher Digby |

24/01/2012 - Inventories of Fine Art, Jewellery and Collectibles

This week I wanted to share an example of the downside to clients of not maintaining an inventory in the event of a claim.

Unfortunately, a client experienced an accidental loss of jewellery; one earring in a pair. The cover meant the client could replace either one earring or the pair. In this instance the client wanted to have the earring made. However, the cost to remake the earring was more than the amount the earrings were insured for!

The client had decided not to provide an inventory or specification of jewellery at inception so the insurer applied an onus of proof clause which means the client needs to prove to the insurer that the figure insured for was reasonably accurate and provide evidence of value(s).
Of course, the client doesn't actually have such a document or recent valuations!

This is more the case with jewellery rather than art or collectibles, mainly due to inherited items and fluctuations in the precious metal and stone markets.

The client now has to spend time on collating an inventory of all the jewellery along with any further documentation to prove value(s) and to ensure the client receives the full benefit of cover. The client will also need to provide a copy of the estimate to remake the one earring and it is likely the insurer may ask for an up to date valuation of all the jewellery post loss.

This is not a huge problem but more of an administrative time consumption which both client and broker could do without, especially at point of claim. Ultimately I find it much easier to explain this to a client at inception along with advising about valuations for artworks, collectibles and of course jewellery.

Christopher Digby |

16/01/2012 - The importance of a good relationship with Underwriters

As a broker I find that I need to wear many hats to carry out my role, the main one being, of course, treating my customers fairly. With this in mind I wanted to express my opinion on the importance of building a good relationship with underwriters which helps achieve this.

When looking to provide cover for a client's risk I find it much easier to deal with people I feel I can trust; not just in terms of how you get on with someone but in terms of their own knowledge, competency and professionalism. 

Building relationships with Underwriters over the telephone, by email, in person at account meetings and socially at market events allows you to get to know the person and the insurance company in a much better way. This in turn will allow you to find industry colleagues whom you feel you can trust. The value of getting to this stage with an underwriter is invaluable.

One example (and there are many, thankfully) is Emily Bryant from Chartis. When I have a risk that I present to Emily I can guarantee that not only do I get an exemplary service, but I also get a sensible, professional and risk-aware response.

This is not about 'rates for mates' - it is about assessing the client's risk and dealing with any issues that arise. To do this, brokers need to present the risk openly and fairly so that the underwriter can assess the risk and provide advice, feedback and ultimately help in order to secure the business. 

By knowing and trusting each other, there is a higher likelihood that both parties will be pleased with the quotation and ultimately the client will have been treated fairly.

Christopher Digby |

11/01/2012 - CPD Event: FSA Update

As insurance professionals, a hot topic of debate has always been Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and how best to maintain and prove it. For me the main purpose is to maintain a continual learning process which demonstrates my competencies and professionalism. I use the online CPD tool that the CII provides to keep track of my development.

Working for my local institute (LI) for the past four years I have developed our programme of learning events for members, just one benefit of membership of the CII, to help members  meet their own CPD needs.

This week I organised a breakfast meeting to provide members with an FSA update, kindly provided by Clair Brand from Branko Ltd. With all the changes that have affected and are affecting our profession, the start of the year seemed like a great opportunity to receive an update on what is going on with our regulation, which will be relevant to most members.

Clair provided an update on the following areas: demise of FSA and what to expect, current business risk awareness supervisory work that will affect small firms and financial crime.

The meeting was attended by more than 25 members and was well worth the early start. It gave relevant information and an opportunity to network with other local professionals.

Learning is an ongoing process and key to personal and professional development which is why CPD is so important in our sector.

12/09/2011 - Discover Risk events and ten years on

Only one week in to the school year and we already have a first. Our first Discover Risk session delivered in Wales, to a group of students in Powys.

We certainly hope it won't be the last!

We're busily finalising our university and school events for the year ahead. Thinking about getting a 'Discover Risk tour' t-shirt made with our globe device on the front and the venues on the back. Trouble is, I'm not that tall so all the venues may not fit...

On a more serious note, we have recently seen the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and it all gives us pause for thought, wherever we were in the world at that time. At the time, it was the largest event in history for the risk sector, and is still the second largest after Hurricane Katrina.

The event certainly had an impact on how companies approached risk of different types. To give just one example, almost two-thirds of companies now have terrorism risk coverage, which simply wasn't the case before 2001.

Some 200 companies from the risk sector shared the combined losses of the major event,  nearly £33bn.

Naturally, the human cost can never be calculated.  

04/09/2011 - The last few months at Cass Business School have been a rollercoaster!

Hello, this is Amit and I will be blogging this week. The last few months at Cass Business School have been a rollercoaster.

Term 3 was only 6 weeks long and passed very quickly. Term 3 allowed students to choose either 5 extra modules or a dissertation. I chose the extra modules that consisted of Credit Risk Management, Operational Risk Management, Marine Aviation and Transport Insurance (MAT), Reinsurance and Claims Management, as I wanted to vary my CV and learn more about risk management. These modules were hard work and very interesting to learn, as teachers combined their insights that added more depth to the class notes. For next year's intake, I would recommend that you research your option into taking 5 extra modules or undertaking the dissertation. It's good to undertake a dissertation if you know what title you want to study. This can target specific employers who require students to undertake research on their behalf, which could lead to a job.

After much hard work and through the help of Cass Careers, I was able to secure a Group Risk position at RSA. The services and workshops mentioned in our previous blogs have helped me achieve this goal. I started my role about 7 weeks ago and it has been great fun and the experience is great. Most of the knowledge gained through this course has helped me through my first project, which is attributed to the excellent teachers at Cass.

This is the last blog from Alexander and myself. We would like to thank you for reading our blog and hope you have enjoyed it.

01/09/2011 - Back to school/college/uni - and so is Discover Risk

So, we're in September and that means the start of another academic year. Summer holidays become a rapidly fading memory and the traffic gets busier in the mornings...let's hope that the recent well-reported hurricane season comes to a calm end sooner rather than later.

The Discover Risk team have had their own little break too, taking in the Med, but we're now getting ready for another series of school sessions and uni events - and it looks like we'll be busier than ever before.

We've got our fun school board game (retro but fab) returning for another tour around the UK. As well as the DR team, there'll also be risk practitioners supporting the events - a great way to get talking to the people who really have been there and done it. There'll be a new league table on this site to give it some added spice and we'll run our competition again with a new scenario and ipad2 up for grabs for the winner.

But let's not forget the upcoming university tour as well. Running since 2008, this has been a really useful way for people to find out what the risk profession is all about and again it gives great insight from practitioners about how they got to where they are now. There are some big brands - Allianz, Aviva and Axa to name just three - and some local SMEs as well, no less interesting but with a different angle. 

We'd love to see you at our events, so take a look here to see where we'll be. If your place isn't on the list, just let us know and we'll make amends.

See you soon.


12/05/2011 - Term 3 is underway!

Hello everyone, this is Amit. Term 3 is underway and in this blog I am going to fill you in on the past 2 months.

The last two months have been very interesting and involved a lot of hard work. In total the class had 6 coursework's with three exams to prepare for. The other coursework's not described in my last blog were for accounting and business.

The accounting coursework involved a group coursework to analyse an insurance company through publically available information, to understand its performance. This was a good exercise as it involved reading annual statements, credit reports and other publicly available information to draw conclusions. This exercise made me aware of the amount of information available to the public in terms of the risk management, Solvency II preparation, company credit ratings and share price movements. This coursework showed me how to read a balance sheet in terms of its financial figures and accompanying notes, which actually gives much more detailed information.

The business coursework was interesting. This involved a group coursework to determine which African market to setup an insurance company. This was difficult at first, as the group had to read through the limited amount of information available, but proved interesting and challenging in determining a strategy and approximate a budget. This was a good exercise as Africa is a developing BRIC country which has huge potential for insurers, which helps students, like me, understand the opportunities and strategies available to insurers. I will not give too much away in case you are going to study at Cass later this year. You will enjoy the class.

Time management was a key factor in trying to complete all the coursework's and exam preparation. After the last coursework was submitted, the class had approximately three weeks to prepare for the exams, over a two week period. The good thing was the coursework's were relevant to the exams and helped in preparation. But, a word of advice to next year's students would be to prepare early and maintain good time management. It is quite easy to spend too much time on coursework's and not prepare for the exams.

Currently, term 3 in underway and the class had to choose which electives, or modules, they wanted to study. I have chosen Credit Risk Management, Operation Risk Management, Reinsurance, Claims Management and Alternative Risk Transfer and Risk Securitisation. In defining my MSc degree, I wanted to have a mixture of insurance modules. I wanted to learn at a more advanced level of the inner workings of Reinsurance, Claims Management and Alternative Risk Transfer and Risk Securitisation, but also understand how Credit Risk Management and Operation Risk Management operate. This would allow me to accumulate the necessary CII credits and diverse my learning, with the aim of making my CV better. So far, I have had my first Credit Risk Management and Claims Management class. The classes are taught differently from term 1 and 2, due to the limited 6 week term, which is more informal. The Claims Management class is taught by an industry expert who brings a wealth of knowledge to her presentations with detailed notes.

The job hunt is difficult. I have completed a lot of applications but trying to complete more whilst studying is hard. I realised when I finish this MSc, in the next few months, I will be able to apply for the next round of graduate intake. I cannot believe how fast the last year has zipped by. That shows the amount of work we had to complete and digest in an intensive year.

21/02/2011 - I like a challenge

Hello everyone, this is Amit. Term 2 is underway in this blog I am going to give you a flavour of the coursework.

The risk modelling class is my favourite. The teacher is very good and knows his subject. The subject combines theory of risk, mathematical theory and programming. This will make students more aware of how to discuss and numerically calculate risk with return. The course doesn't include exams, but is marked through two individual lots of coursework.

The first coursework involves analysing four different assets within a portfolio to calculate risk and return. I like this module because I can learn how to correctly analyse assets within a portfolio and start investing in the stock market again. I tried it before and wasn't that successful, as I didn't appreciate the concept of not putting all your eggs in one basket was a bad idea.. also known as diversification! So, I'm going to have another go and see what happens using the theory learnt from this module.

The second coursework consists of more programming. I haven't done programming in a long time, and felt very comfortable in the level that was being taught. One of the things that surprised me about this course is that most people within the insurance industry know little about programming. As a graduate trying to break into the market, it's good to know that and understand how to market that on my CV.

The accounting finance and financial management in insurance is interesting. The course is based around analysing an insurance balance sheet and interrogating it from a risk point of view. So far this subject has incorporated Term 1 finance; theory of risk and risk management. The course consists of one group coursework with an exam. The coursework involves analysing a company through the use of financial ratios and calculations to determine its performance, to understand the level of risk it faces. So we are learning the theory and applying it to the coursework as we go through the course.

From the current recession and introduction of solvency II, this will be very useful to know and use in an interview, putting me one step closer in securing a job.

The general insurance module is fantastic. The level of teaching you get from Prof. Parsons is second to none. He knows his subject and gives you enough theory to write a book and hopefully become an industry expert.... one day! He makes his lessons interesting by relating it to case studies. To be honest, after the Law module from Term 1 and having to learn 170 plus cases, I thought I wouldn't have to do that again. But, we still have to learn a few, which makes the module more challenging and fun.

I attended a careers event hosted by Kenexa on personal impact, which was really interesting. As we learnt more soft skills on how to make a positive impression, for interviews and networking events, and how to communicate clearly with different social circles.

This was a great experience as I got to learn more about myself and how my personal characteristics can come across and be judged differently to what I wanted. This has helped me judge people in a different light and understand how to communicate with people correctly, weither in an interview or on the street.

Trying to apply for jobs while studying is proving difficult, as there is enough work to get on with. I'm hoping this course will make me stand out from the crowd and make me more employable.

Most employers have started their recruitment process in the Christmas break and I'm starting to receive emails for interviews. Attending interviews/assessment centres while studying is hard as you need to manage your time very well. But, that's why I'm here.... I like a challenge.

04/02/2011 - Term 2

Hello everyone, this is Amit. The exams have finished and the class has started the second term. The exams went well and I was surprised how much we learnt within two months and how well the modules linked together.

As Alex said in his last blog, the Insurance and Risk Management class had the opportunity to visit Lloyds of London. This was a great experience as we got a guided tour of the building and told how the market began from Edward Lloyd's Coffee house and evolved to its current stature. We got to see the underwriting room, the current and previous loss books and the Lutine bell. The Lutin bell was struck when a ship was overdue to inform all the brokers and underwriters of any loss at the same time.

The building itself is an engineering masterpiece. All the utility services are routed outside of the building, so it looks inside out, which allows more space within. Also, the view from the top of the building is amazing when looking out across London.

The job hunt has been interesting in December. I had the opportunity to attend an ability centre at RBS for a role in Risk. The ability centre involved a numerical test and interview. Sadly I was unable to pass the centre, but they offered me another role within Security and Risk based upon my interview. To be honest, I was surprised they offered me another role as I did not pass their initial assessment. So just before Christmas I went to Scotland for another assessment but failed in securing a place.
The two assessment centres taught me a lot about what to expect and how to conduct myself. The best advice I can give anyone on how to tackle an assessment centre is to research about the company, understand your chosen field and be yourself.

The Insurance and Risk Management class has started term two and I'm happy to say it's getting easier! The lectures from term one set a good foundation to build upon in term two. For example, some of the modules learnt from term one that include Theory of Risk and Insurance Markets and Insurance Law and Regulation, have been referred to in the General Insurance module in term two. Some of the other term two modules include Risk Analysis and Modelling, Accounting and Financial Management in Insurance and Business Organisation and finally Corporate Strategy in Insurance and Financial Services. I'm looking forward to the Risk Analysis and Accounting modules as these modules combine theoretical study with mathematics, whilst term one mostly focused on theory.

24/01/2011 - Exam Time!

Hello everyone, this week it's Alexander blogging. The first term has finished and as you probably have all ready guessed, this means exam time. If we have to be honest - nobody likes exams and all the stress and sleepless nights associated with them. In this blog I will tell you more about the assessment process at the MSc Insurance and Risk Management.

This term we had four subjects: Theory of Risk and Insurance Markets (TRIM), Insurance Law and Regulation, Risk Management and Principles of Finance and Financial Analysis. Each subject was taught by lecturers who are not only excellent academics, but also leading industry professionals. I will tell you more about each subject.

TRIM taught us the basic principles of insurance, reinsurance and the various ways to distribute insurance products. We learned a lot about Captives, Lloyd's of London and the London Market, as well as the interaction between global markets and their significance to the world economy. There was a 3000-word course assignment which contributed to 25% of the overall mark, and 75% comes from the 2.5 hour written exam at the end of the term.

Insurance Law and Regulation has to be my favourite subject for this term. Yes, it sounds scary and when you hear the word 'Law' you may associate it with a lot of cases all containing difficult names that you have to memorize. That is not the case here, and if you are passionate about insurance, this subject explains a lot of the mechanisms and principles that operate within it. Again 25% of the mark comes from coursework and 75% of the mark is the written exam.

Risk Management, as the name suggests is one of the core modules for the program. It was divided into two parts that were taught by two different lecturers. The first part concentrated on the basic principles of Risk Management and was led by Dr. Alan Punter, who was one of the leading professionals at Aon for many decades. The second part was taught by Dr. Stanley Mutenga and explored the finer details of the Risk Management process, clearly illustrating each point with interactive videos and real life examples.

Our final course subject was Principles of Finance and Financial Analysis. This proved a great comprehensive course which gave us general knowledge on derivatives, financial analysis, portfolio theory etc. This subject is different when it comes to assessment. 50% of the overall mark comes from coursework and the other 50% from a multiple choice test at the end of term.

I have to say that I'm highly impressed by the Insurance and Risk Management Course so far and this became most apparent at the final stage of the interview process at Willis. I will tell you more about this in my next blog. Stay tuned for next week's blog where Amit will tell you about our visit to the Lloyd's of London insurance market.

07/12/2010 - It's nearly Christmas!

Hello everyone, this is Amit. The course is getting harder and more intense, but I am thriving under the pressure! Well, so far...

Over the last couple of weeks on the Insurance and Risk Management course, I've had to deliver three assignments whilst completing job application forms. This has proved to be a very difficult task and the pressure is mounting, but that is why I chose this course. If you want to be the best, you have to work at your best.

The last coursework that I submitted was for my Insurance Law and Regulation class. This coursework has been really interesting as it applies to real life. Through the lessons, I was able to learn about different insurance principles and their applications to real life events, such as how an insurance contract is constructed, governing principles, legal positions of individuals through a contract and how a claim is made. We got to look into topics that include breach of good faith, misrepresentation, indemnity and subrogation. All interesting stuff!

The application process and job search has been very interesting. I'm starting to receive telephone interviews and invitations to company assessment days, which is fantastic. Without the help from the Careers team at Cass, I wouldn't have got as far.

Before I arranged my first interview, I approached the Careers team and they were able to arrange a mock interview and provide feedback. This proved to be an excellent experience as it made me aware of what to expect and what to say. So I was able to prepare and hopefully, say the right things!

I had an interview with Deloitte, which I felt went OK. They asked general questions that included; "Why did you choose the company?" "Why have you chosen this role?" The main thing I learnt from preparing is to be honest and most of all prepare, prepare and prepare some more.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to receive more general acknowledgements from companies, which is a good sign. Generally, investment banks start and finish their application processes earlier on in the year, whilst insurance companies start and finish later in the year.

As the course is quickly coming to the end of our first term, Cass organised an MSc party for us where they kindly booked a venue and provided the food and drink. This was great fun, after seeing everyone work so hard and finally break free.

So our classes are coming to the end and we are breaking up for Christmas. I have about three or four weeks till the exams. Now it's time to work hard while enjoying the holidays.

30/11/2010 - Why graduate programmes in insurance? Well, see for yourself.

Hi everyone, this week it will be Aleksandar blogging.  Last week Amit gave you some tips on how to apply for banks. As I'm more enthusiastic about insurance companies and global brokers, I will share my experience in applying for graduate programmes.

Why graduate programmes? Graduate programmes are specifically designed for the needs of people with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but little experience, i.e. university graduates. These programmes are an invaluable way of setting your foot inside the insurance industry. With their rotational basis they provide you with a solid understanding of the whole spectrum of a company's business.  It's worth noting, however, not all graduate programmes have rotations so to really research the programme before you apply.

For example, on a rotation programme you spend six months at the claims department learning everything you need to learn about the claims handling process. Starting at that department is the best way to learn the mechanism according to which everything is done, because from my modest experience I can confirm that an insurance company is build on the interaction between the underwriting and claims departments.

Afterwards you would probably be assigned to the marketing department or go on a small trip to another country to explore the ways of insurance in other parts of the world. And finally you will be able to learn more about how to price insurance contracts and how to create a profitable insurance pool, i.e. underwriting.

The rotational basis of these programmes gives you the unique chance to learn while getting paid and develop a global understanding of every aspect of a company's business. What's more, most companies will cover your expenses for sitting exams towards the ACII and allow time to study before the actual exams.

When I first started applying for graduate schemes in insurance, reinsurance companies and brokers I found out that application form deadlines come a bit later than the ones for bank graduate schemes. Most of the assessment centres are held after New year.


A few useful tips:

1.      1. Research the companies you target and try to learn as much as you can about their current positions in the market and what exactly they do. (Lloyd's of London is not a Bank!)

2.      2.University career fairs are an excellent opportunity to talk to people from insurance companies, ask relevant questions and make a good impression.

3.      3.When you are preparing your application form, take your time to answer the questions. It is not worth submitting an application form unless it is perfect! The 'spray and pray' approach does not work, trust me!

4.      4.Most companies require you to complete a numeracy or a verbal reasoning test or both, so practice these as much as possible. They may seem hard at first, but with time you see that you get very good at them.

5.      5. Use the specific company's website to look up the skills they expect a good candidate to posses and think about examples you can give in order to prove you have these qualities.

6.      6. Do not wait until the deadline, apply early! Most companies run assessment centres once they have enough suitable candidates.

So, how successful have I been in applying? Well, so far I had no positive answers, but I had no negative ones either. I guess it is too early to say, but I am hopeful.


22/11/2010 - Work hard and believe in yourself

Hello everyone, this is Amit and I will be blogging this week. This week involved submitting our first coursework. For the finance module, the class had to get into groups of five and financially analyse a company. This was a great experience to learn and apply the theoretical knowledge gained from the first few weeks of lessons.

After much debate, we chose a company and started to work as a team. Cass has one of the biggest financial databases which consists of Datastream, Bloomberg, Thomson ONE Banker and Reuters 3000 Xtra software packages. It was great fun learning how to use these software packages, as they are used in the industry and allow you to add another skill to your CV. We submitted our coursework minutes before the deadline!

To be honest, coming from an engineering background, I was shaken from day one. I remember in my first finance module at Cass, the teacher asked "who hasn't studied accounting before?". I put my hand up and looked around, and to my amazement no one else put their hand up. Through hard work and applying myself, I contributed to the team and have learnt so much. The moral of the story, work hard and believe in yourself.

So far applying for jobs within the finance industry has been very competitive. I am starting to realise it's a game of numbers, but vitally, the more time and effort you put into a quality application the more chance you have of being noticed by an employer. I will briefly explain a typical application process, if you do not know about them.

Once you have researched your chosen finance role, you can complete an online application form through the bank's website. The next stage normally consists of a numerical, verbal and/or logic test, followed by an interview and/or assessment day/s.

After talking to friends and family who have worked in finance, graduate roles are an excellent way to start your career, but internships can give you a valuable insight into the industry that can develop into a graduate role, whilst gaining valuable contacts through networking.

My one tip on filling in application forms is to write something original, unique and relative, which will make you stand out from the crowd.

Another key factor in applying for jobs is displaying commercial awareness, this will separate you from your competitors. You can develop this through reading financial newspapers, magazines, websites and attending free seminars. Last week a company called Kleinwort Benson came to Cass to talk about the economy, which made me more aware of what's going on in the world.

I had a surprised phone call this week to be interviewed for the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) journal. At first, I was thinking it was a prank email from my course friends, but realised soon afterwards it was not. This was a great experience to talk about the course and my journey though finance. If you receive the journal, have a read a let me know what you think.

17/11/2010 - The Cass Experience

Hi everyone its Alexander again and this week I will try to give you a viewpoint on the Cass Experience. Studying in the heart of the City is a lot more than just going to university, attending lectures, passing exams and getting a degree. There are plenty of opportunities waiting for you out there and with every passing day I start to appreciate more and more the great location of Cass.

Here is a small example. Me and a few of my peers have come up with the idea to start the first ever Insurance and Risk Management Society here at Cass and through that society we are able to do a lot more than just strengthen our CVs. We are able to show to the wider public that there are active students out there, full of wonderful ideas and eager to make them come true.

This week, with the wonderful support from the Insurance Institute of London and the CII, our society members were allowed access to Lloyd's Lunchtime Lectures. We are talking about Lloyd's of London-the 'cradle of insurance' with over 300 years of history, where some of the world's biggest and most complicated risk are underwritten. We had the chance to visit their amazing building at One Lime Street at the heart of the City. The lecture we attended was held at the Old library, which stunned me with its interior. It is hard to describe how privileged I felt to be at the place where insurance history was written (and underwritten J ).

Patrick Thiele, the President & CEO of PartnerRe Ltd.  Bermuda gave us his view on the topic of 'Investment Risk Management - An Integrated Approach' and I felt I managed to learn a lot and apply that knowledge in one of the course assignments we have to submit at the end of term.

But that is not all. This week our Society is hosting Willis, which is one of the biggest insurance brokers in the world, for the first time at Cass Business School. But I will stop here with the serious bit and tell you more about how you can have fun and enjoy London while you are studying.

What I like about London is the diversity of people you can meet here. I have made a lot of friends from all over the world and for me personally this is an experience that has widened my perspective of different nationalities and cultures. And of course if you want to enjoy your free time there are many places to do so in London. And this can range from visiting museums to partying hard in one of the amazing night clubs they have here.

So when you consider where to study for your postgraduate diploma, don't just think about how prestigious a university is, but consider what it has to offer you in terms of the experience you will be part of during that special year of your life.

08/11/2010 - No matter how hard you work, always make time to socialise

Hello everyone, this is Amit and I will be blogging this week. Every day I come to Cass I learn something new about the course and myself. The Insurance and Risk Management course covers, on average, 18 hours of lessons per week, with numerous additional careers services and lessons available. But, the most important lesson I'm starting to learn is, how much do I want to get out of this course? (Answer: as much as I can handle!)

So far, I'm getting used to my lessons and the word 'coursework', thinking I would never hear that word again after graduating from my first degree! I've hit the ground running from day one and started lessons. The first week has been excellent, as lessons are taught by well-respected academics who bring their personal work experiences, which have provided valuable insights into Risk Management lessons. The teacher explained his slides linking them to industry events, which has helped in understanding the information. For example, the teacher explained what an insurance captive is, while refereeing to the BP oil leak. So far I'm really enjoying the finance lessons as the teacher is explaining the topics very well and has a great sense of humour. It helps when the lessons are jammed packed with information and you're trying to write down everything he says! (not just the jokes)

The Careers Services have been fundamental in the first few weeks at Cass. We have had the opportunity to attend numerous company presentations. So far UBS, Ernst & Young, BNP Paribas have presented, which made me more aware of what they do and how I can apply, because sometimes it's hard to understand types of roles from a company website. After the event Cass sets up a networking event where we can ask further questions with free food & drink, which is another incentive.

These events have helped me to understand how to become more 'attractive to potential employers', whilst gaining valuable company information that ranges from a company/department structure to a typical "day in the life" profile. This has helped paint a clearer picture of what is going on in the industry and what to expect. For example, companies have explained what key skills they require and application hints & tips. This helped me think of how to approach applications, to standout from the crowd. The best company presentation I've attended was for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. One of the Risk Managers explained risk management and a typical day of work. This opened my eyes and made me more aware of what to write in those tricky application questions.

To further develop myself and experience more at Cass, I've joined a number of clubs and societies, which include the Insurance and Risk Management and Trading societies. I've also signed up to the badminton and basketball clubs, which have been great. But, I forgot how much running around there was. Another club I want to start is the running club. I hear they meet outside Cass then go for a run, which is a good sign. But I'll let you know how that goes!

All of these clubs and societies are a great way of networking. One thing I've learnt in life is no matter how hard you work; always make time to socialise. If you think about it, all these extra interests and hobbies shown on your CV, will make you stand out from the crowd and make you more employable, helping you to secure that important job you want. This shows you have ambition to achieve other things. To be honest, when I was applying for my previous graduate role, I put down on my CV that I was a private pilot and could fly light aircraft. My interviewer noticed that and during the interview we ended up talking about flying, which was a strange experience, and the best thing was...I got the job.

02/11/2010 - It's time to shine!

Hello everyone, it's Alexander and I will be blogging this week. Have you ever asked yourselves: "How much do I really know about insurance?" I know I have, and a year and a half ago the answer was - "Not much."

Today however, I feel more confident in my knowledge of insurance and the more that I learn, the more I start to enjoy it even more. This is why being part of the biggest faculty of actuarial sciences and insurance in Europe is a great privilege for me.

An exciting event that really made a huge impression on me was the visit of the Insurance Institute of London. We had the chance to speak to Mr Walter Mayers who gave us an insight on what it was like to work in the industry. From what Mr Mayers said, despite the developments in communication and technologies, insurance is still a people's business. This sounds very appealing to me because of the prospect of meeting intelligent ambitious people in my every day work.

I also learned that the Insurance industry is open to people from different backgrounds and has promising career opportunities for a wide range of professions. There is no need to be a "star" underwriter or broker to make it big.

Alongside Mr Mayers, I was able to talk to four young people who chose to pursue a career in insurance and risk, and I was able to imagine myself in their position in the future. 

Knowing what you want to do in life is vital, but not necessarily a straight-forward decision. This is why talking to people from the industry is very important.

During our welcome talk, one of the things that were highlighted to us was the importance of the Career Service and that we should start looking for a job as soon as possible. The people here at Cass are absolutely dedicated to help you find the job of your dreams by developing your strategy, honing your skills and getting your CV right.

Every Wednesday we also have Professional Development where we are taught how to make ourselves more attractive to potential employers.

So, what does "attractive to potential employers" mean? Well it is simple. We are taught valuable skills like how to make our CV and cover letter stand out from the crowd, and how to develop the soft skills that may make the difference between getting employed and not.

A world of experience

One thing that I really enjoy about the MSc Insurance and Risk Management is its truly global nature with people literally from every part of the world. There are people on the course who are very experienced in industry, there are people for whom this is a second - or even third - degree, and of course there are boys and girls like myself who chose to pursue a career in insurance right after graduation.

After the two weeks of induction into the course, it was time for us to enter the lecture theatres.

26/10/2010 - The start of a journey in the world of risk

Hello and welcome to our blog. Our names are Aleksandar Ubchev and Amit Misra and we are part of this year's MSc Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. We will keep you updated through our weekly blogs hopefully giving you a better understanding of our journey through Cass Business School.


I hold a BSc in Marine Engineering from the Naval-Academy in my home country, Bulgaria. After graduation the logical step would have been to follow the family tradition and pursue a career in the Maritime industry, but I was lucky enough to meet a professor in insurance who inspired me to take a different path.

This led me to Cyprus working as a trainee underwriter in one of the local companies. My strong mathematical background gave me an advantage and with each passing day I was given more interesting and complicated tasks to do.

I became extremely enthusiastic about marine insurance and, Cass Business School with its strategic position in the City of London, was the next step to fulfilling my dream of becoming a marine underwriter.


I graduated from Brunel University in 2006 with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and have been working ever since graduating. The recession made me think about  what I wanted to achieve in life, and I decided to study for an MSc in Insurance and Risk Management.

Before I knew it, I was a student again and was getting ready for my two week induction. I thought I would be the oldest in the class, but the course has a diverse age range and people come from all over the world.

I chose Cass Business School due to its reputation and location in the heart of London. The risk management part of the course appealed to me as risk management will become a key role within insurance and banking, due to the recent economic climate.

Our Cass experience so far

The two-week induction was excellent, the classes include mathematics and economics. The teachers taught each subject from a basic level to advanced, to bring everyone up to speed, so everyone could hit the ground running from day one.

The three-day MSc Careers Fair was our first opportunity to network with people from Insurance companies and Banks. This was when we started to really appreciate the amazing location of Cass and how tightly linked it is with the City. A lot of the companies we were interested in attended the fair, and we got the chance to introduce ourselves and ask valuable questions.

So far, the experience has lived up to our expectations and we're looking forward to our first week. So stay tuned and we will give you a front row seat on our journey through the exciting world of insurance and risk!

26/04/2010 - Learning and Development at Ageas

Welcome to my blog! I'm Vivien and I'm a graduate trainee at Ageas. Since joining the company in October 2009, I've been working with the HR and strategy planning teams. One thing that has really impressed me so far is the level of training available to staff. Have you ever imagined that training could be interesting and inspiring? Let me tell you how interesting it can be!

First of all, I'll tell you a bit about my background. I was born in Hong Kong and had various jobs after graduating from the University of Hong Kong where I studied English, and more recently the University of Warwick where I obtained my Masters degree in Information Systems and Management.

The culture and attitude towards training at Ageas is very different to what I've experienced before. Previously, I've found training sessions to be boring and the trainers were only there to teach us the basic knowledge required. I learnt to work hard without having much personal development. Honestly, I was shocked with the variety of training offered at Ageas when I first joined. Not only have I received business related training, such as technical skills, but I have also successfully achieved the Certificate of Insurance, awarded by the Chartered Institute of Insurance.

I have also attended soft skill sessions, which were particularly useful to equip me to take a future leadership role. I attended a course called 'Thinking to Success' which was very thought-provoking. I've always set myself high expectations, which naturally adds more pressure on me. During the course, the trainer used different learning methods such as group exercises and discussions, which helped me understand how to deal with pressure. During the reflection time, I suddenly realised it was my attitude which controlled my future! Now, I can work efficiently because I understand the mechanism of stress management!

I've even undertaken a virtual training session in the style of 'who wants to be a millionaire'! The session aims to teach new employees about Ageas and is a real example of how the company tries to create interesting ways to learn. It was so simple to use and incredibly memorable. This is not the only e-learning course Ageas provides - in fact all staff can pick and choose from a selection of modules. Recently, I have just gained my certificate for completing the Microsoft Excel module.

These are just a few examples of the interactive training courses Fortis has to offer. Thanks to the training staff, who are approachable and encouraging I am really pleased with what I have achieved so far!

Vivien Chan, Graduate Associate, Ageas

29/03/2010 - Unsure about the future

The year is 2000. I am 16 and ready to leave school. Everybody seems to know what I should do next everybody except me! Apparently I should go to college, I should go to university, I should get a job, I should find an apprenticeship, I should join the forces the list goes on.

Maybe the circus needs a new clown...I would be good at that!

My problem? Where will each option take me? What if I pick the wrong direction? What should I do? Help!

Skip forward 10 years and I am sitting at my desk at Ageas scratching my head. My dominant thought? How did I end up here? Insurance..didn't see that one coming, although I am glad it did.

There is a place for you within the insurance industry, no matter what route you take to get here. That's the beauty of insurance, the possibilities are actually endless.

Think about your favourite subjects. Whether you like Maths, English, Computing, Design and Technology, Languages or Science; there is a career waiting for you in the industry.

So what do I think you should do?

Well I'm not going to join the queue of people waiting to tell you what to do because I'm sure you've had enough of that! Frankly it's your decision and you need to take control.

Instead I ask you to look at the career paths suggested on the CII 'Discover Risk' website and see if any appeal to you. Look at the different companies and what they do, and try to forget what you think you know about insurance - keep your mind and eyes open.

You could work in a role negotiating claims, servicing customers, selling insurance, assessing and underwriting risk, pricing insurance rates, assisting people in trouble on holiday, or even 'out in the field' visiting brokers and partners.

With so much to choose from, it's not all grey jumpers and stiff suits..I promise.

Stuart Keenan, Graduate Associate, Ageas

23/03/2010 - My first 6 months in Ageas - a graduate view

After graduating from the University of Hull in June 2009, like many graduates I promptly encountered the reality of job hunting during a recession.

After three months of travelling up and down the country in search of that perfect opportunity, I found myself being offered a graduate position at Ageas, a major player in the risk sector.

Before I knew it I had packed my bags, relocated to Stoke-on-Trent and had my first day as one of five Ageas Graduate Associates.

I had attended a CII presentation about careers in risk during my final year of university, but apart from that I knew very little about the risk profession before I started.

I quickly realised that it was a dynamic, diverse and extremely enjoyable environment to be a part of. Just in my small team we have undergraduate and graduate students, band members, car enthusiasts and a tennis coach.

The twelve month graduate scheme is designed to provide me with an exposure to as many different areas of the profession as possible, which is exactly what the last six months has been about.

From day one I was given real responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference. I spent my first three months working closely with the call centre managers whilst I conducted a complete review of the call centre bonus structures.

My report quickly became recognised and before I knew it I was in the board room presenting my findings to the Operations director, which was something I really didn't expect to be doing within my first 3 months.

Following on from my early success, I was asked to work on a very important project for the commercial team. This would turn out to be very different from the people focused operations project that I first worked on.

Before I knew it another three months had passed and my number crunching and market research has finished and I was ready to submit my report. The first six months have been a real exciting learning curve and I have met and worked with people from all kinds of social and professional backgrounds.

The risk profession is very people focused and if you enjoy interacting with a variety of people it is certainly the industry for you. With new faces arriving in the business everyday, there is a real buzz and it's all get up and go in the office.

I must sign off for now, but please check back soon for an insight into my working week.

Martyn Leek, Graduate Associate, Ageas



19/03/2010 - Blog goes on tour

Thanks to all who have come to the site to have a look around. I hope you like what you see. You'll have noticed that we've had our first employer, Fortis, using the site as part of its graduate recruitment activity. The first of many, I'm sure.

The site now has around 30 employers on it, and we've just finished some filming with a variety of professionals, from graduate trainee to CEO. These will be up on the site in a few weeks' time, so keep an eye out for them.

You'll see another change to the site from next week, with the first of our guest contributors taking charge of the blog. All part of the aim of getting you up to speed with the opportunities available to you, and the breadth of opportunity the profession offers.

So, over the next few months, you can build your knowledge about the profession. Maybe Didier Drogba will take a look, eh.

23/02/2010 - Events, dear boy, events

Just a few days to go until the end of the month, and hopefully the start of some half-decent weather.

We're also coming towards the end of our round of university events, which started in Stirling in September, and will finish in Kingston next month.

It's been really good to get onto campus again and talk about what we do. It's something that we have done a lot more of over the last couple of years, and the employers welcome the opportunity to get in front of their future workforce. We've seen a good 2000 students from Aberdeen to Plymouth and Belfast to Norwich.

It's interesting to see how many learners at uni are pleasantly surprised to hear that it's not just about numbers and computer screens. Talking about a people profession and the amount of time away from a desk captures a lot of imaginations. The number of applications to our employers has certainly gone up over the last two years, as more graduates (and school leavers) consider a career in another part of financial services.

We've also been getting out and visiting schools around the country. Two-hour interactive sessions on careers in risk tend to begin sceptically but end up being very lively. The signup sheet for work experience is never blank... 

We're always happy to get out and do more, so if you fancy getting your Year 12s tuned into risk, drop us a line at  

19/01/2010 - Well, here it is - Discover Risk

Greetings, and welcome to Discover Risk. By now you'll have had a good rummage around the site and seen that profession covers an astonishing range of risks, from the everyday to the special and spectacular. It's also global, giving opportunities here in London, across the rest of the UK and in every continent there is.

We're launching this website at the start of what has already been a traumatic year. The devastating earthquake in Haiti put the UK's adverse weather conditions in the shade, and even sport hasn't been immune - Togo's players were shot at before the start of their African Cup of Nations campaign.

The risk profession played its part in the aftermath of both of these terrible tragedies - people who work in risk do their best to mitigate it, and while we sadly can't stop bad things happening, our experts go to great lengths to take as much risk away from the individual, team or business as is possible.

But don't take my word for it - check out the case studies on the site, and find out what people like about the profession: the challenges, opportunities and successes. Everyone has heard someone say 'never the same day twice' - it's absolutely true from where I'm sitting.

You'll be seeing more of the risk profession in schools, colleges and universities this year. Careers staff have their own part of the website and a nifty little leaflet to help them give advice on our sector. Local insight events for students, to complement our movie, website and brochure, all make it easier for you to understand what it is that we do, how large the sector is, and where it can take you.

So watch this space for updates - from university events to employers' recruitment drives and new placement openings to get your first foot on the ladder.

Happy surfing...
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