What did you want to be when you were growing up? A lawyer? A fireman? A superhero? I do not think anyone wanted to be a financial adviser, much less a protection adviser.
And this is mainly because it is not seen to be as noble as a fireman or high profile as a lawyer, and it certainly is not on many young people’s radars – but that does not make it any less important.
There is a role for everyone in this world, it is what makes the world go round, and we need to get better at supporting people into those roles, whatever they may be.
There are a number of reasons that we struggle to attract young people into the protection industry and one of the main ones is because the role is not relatable to the youth of today.
Picture a financial adviser, what do you see? The average age and gender of an adviser is still in their 50s and male. How do you get a 21-year-old, straight from university, to see themselves following that career path? It is a pretty steep climb, considering the age of developing technology in which we currently live.
We need to change this perception, and we can do this by adopting on a broad scale some of the practices that businesses within our industry are already starting to master.
I fell into financial services, as I am sure quite a few people did. I was not interested in university, but I was interested in working and learning at the same time and one of the biggest employers in my hometown was HSBC, so off I went to work at its contact centre and to start my career.
Fast forward 17 years and I now oversee the protection division of the largest compliance and service provider in the UK.
This is not because of any qualification I have; it is because I have been supported by the businesses and the people that I have been fortunate enough to work for, as well as my own hard work of course.
A few businesses that I have worked with over the years have formalised the process of offering apprenticeships, which is an excellent way to give young people a taste of our industry.
I recently read an article from a woman who secured herself an apprenticeship with a large protection referral business straight from school, and went from learning about customer service to falling in love with helping ‘uninsurable’ customers get cover.
Going to work for the right company at 16, 18 or 21 can give the direction needed to forge a fabulous career in protection and, more widely, in financial services. It allows us to showcase the amazing things we can do for customers, while also developing lifelong skills.