All roads lead to insurance
While many people say they fell into jobs in insurance, the industry’s prominence in Bermuda makes it an attractive career choice for many, but re/insurers can still do more to reach out to young people, says Ed Bermuda’s Jake Fisher.
“For me, a fulfilling career in insurance means a career in Bermuda, but I recognise the global nature of our work.”
Jake Fisher, Ed Bermuda
Growing up in Bermuda you would be hard-pressed not to be aware of the existence of the insurance industry. As a major presence on the Island, insurance can often dominate everything else that goes on—including tourism. In the last 30 years we have seen Bermuda’s major selling point swing from its attractions as an ideal paradise destination, towards its status as a key regional powerhouse of risk management.
Given that background, it’s safe to say I didn’t “fall into insurance”, as many do in other global centres. From a young age I had a long-term aim to build a career in this industry. I wrote my university dissertation on the Bermuda insurance market, exploring how the Island established itself as an insurance world destination and examining the geographical, historical and political factors that contributed to its eventual rivalling of London and New York. The microcosm of expertise available here made my decision easy—Bermuda was where I would establish my career.
For me, a fulfilling career in insurance means a career in Bermuda, but I recognise and relish the global nature of our work. Time spent in London last year gave me a broader perspective but also solidified my understanding that at the heart of our market is the need to build relationships—and that need transcends regions. This has proved to be even more vital during the pandemic—even if we can’t travel at the moment, our global network can still thrive in this virtual world.
No limits on sharing knowledge
The year 2020 has undoubtedly been an interesting time for developing the early stages of a career. The global pandemic and its ramifications will continue to be felt widely, but the resulting lockdown has surprisingly not hindered my own growth. To anyone looking at a potentially daunting career future in the face of COVID-19, I would encourage them to view the way our industry has adapted as an opportunity—and a further reason why it offers an exciting and positive future.
Prior to lockdown, I was fortunate to work with a team at Ed Bermuda who had experience both on and away from the Island. They let me ask questions and didn’t hold their expertise close to their chests. This hasn’t changed: the support wasn’t based on proximity, but on a willingness to share knowledge. While I can’t stroll over to someone’s desk at the moment, I can still ask questions, and I do.
This environment has proved something of a trial by fire, but I’m now working on several projects, meeting new people and offering my view on risks, which I might otherwise not have done until further down the line.
Working from home has provided me with the impetus to strike out as an individual, without the need to run everything by senior brokers. Their support and guidance are still there, but the freedom has enabled me to push on and get things done. For those ready to face an immediate challenge and accept the trust and responsibility for their own progression, now is the time to embark on an insurance path.
Hard work conquers all
From the outset of my career there were whispers of a hardening market, with no-one quite committing to the term—as if saying it out loud might jinx it. We are in the midst of a landscape that will continue to harden and one that general consensus says will be here for a significant period.
From this change in market dynamics comes the moment for Bermuda to cement itself as an insurance centre of excellence. Bermuda is an insurance incubator, capable of rapidly creating new players and new capacity. Our agile marketplace and business model allows new players to get up and running at a speed London and New York wouldn’t be able to match. With a regulatory environment that recognises that new business is good for the Island and acknowledges the need to work with people, not against them, the class of 2020/21 is set to be a positive development.
“The breadth of interesting and surprising risks we see cannot be rivalled by traditional banking or jobs in the finance sector.”
A hard market means hard work. But as a startup specialty broker on the Island we are used to the work needed to impress underwriters and provide clients with the best solutions. Where larger brokers were perhaps used to business flowing to them in a soft market, we have benefited from an environment where brokers have gone out and won business. It’s great to learn early in your career how to work and develop ideas in conjunction with underwriters and, quite simply, deliver the best submission for a quick decision.
This is where technological advancements and the use of data and analytics come to the fore. I’ve been fortunate to join a firm that is investing in the Island, not just in local talent, but also—by way of TradEd—in the technology needed to harness what Bermuda has to offer.
I would love to see more Bermudians in our market and there is a clear drive by many businesses to capitalise on home-grown talent. In Bermuda there is a clearer understanding than in many other countries that insurance can be a long-term career, but many young people nonetheless struggle to see the exact pathway into the industry.
For an island with a large global presence we are still small in geographical terms and this could be helpful in addressing that uncertainty. It would be very easy, for example, to visit every high school in a short period and give a presentation on exactly what the industry entails, how someone might benefit from it and how insurance welcomes and thrives on diversity of thought, talents and backgrounds.
From where I stand it is not a hard sell. What other industry melds together qualitative and quantitative factors in the way insurance does? The breadth of interesting and surprising risks we see cannot be rivalled by traditional banking and jobs in the finance sector.
My work in Ed Bermuda’s property team allows me to view large real estate portfolios, with plentiful amounts of information and data, but also to hear personal opinions—people’s real world view and experiences of different risks. I have had the opportunity to speak to several companies, learn about their business, their sector and their ambitions—you wouldn’t have that in many other jobs.
This is an interesting time to begin a career in insurance and, I would argue, an opportune moment to become a broker in Bermuda. The current global market offers challenges and learning curves, but the past year and my time at Ed Broking has been fascinating. It has also given me a great outlook and perspective as a young broker on the Island.
Jake Fisher is a technical assistant in the property team at Ed Bermuda. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org