By Dan Reynolds, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
Who is more valuable? A veteran broker or risk manager with more than two decades of experience, or a young gun fresh out of the college gate with new ideas pumping through his or her cranium? It's an argument that has occurred so many times we're afraid to bring it up.
When we write stories praising brokers under the age of 40, someone inevitably chastises us for our support of those wet-behind-the-ears youngsters and reminds us of the value of that hard-earned wisdom to which only an industry veteran can lay claim.
Well, guess what? In about 10 years the argument about whether the young provide more value than the old is largely going to be over.
That's because the average working insurance professional, now 56, plans to "retire" at the age of 66, according to a study released in early July by the National Alliance Research Academy, the research arm of the National Alliance of Insurance Education and Research in Austin, Texas.
In fact, 59 percent of respondents planned to work on a part-time basis after they leave their full-time position, at least for a while. The study's authors, Andrew B. Grimes, a research associate with the academy, and William J. Hold, the academy's director, point to the hope that professional education, and lots of it, is the best way to ensure that the industry doesn't lose too much knowledge in the aggregate.
Other insurance organizations seem to be taking the issue of an aging workforce just as seriously. The New York-based Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. puts considerable effort into coordinating with university risk management programs and other financial-sector educational sources to draft as many of the best and the brightest into the industry as they can.
The National Alliance estimates that 59 percent of respondents said they plan to work part-time after retirement which the authors said may put off by an additional four years the seismic shift that is going to occur when all these baby boomers drop out.
So, add those four years to the 10 years between now and when many insurance professionals plan to retire and you're talking 14 years until the industry sees a seismic shift.
"Fourteen years may sound like a long time to prepare, however, considering an entire industry may be shifting its population base, preparations cannot be postponed," the authors write.
The survey was answered by more than 3,000 insurance and risk management professionals.
July 13, 2010
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