Chairman’s Message – Spring 2024

Insurance education and the future insurance workforce is at the heart of the Insurance Museum’s thinking. So little is known outside our sector about what we insurers do and how important we are to society as a whole and the world economy at large. We hope to change that by ‘opening the door to the world of insurance’ and sharing our amazing story.

Whilst the Museum will be open to all ages, we are developing a schools’ education programme that introduces children to insurance, how it works and how it underpins society.  I recently signed a petition to the Government to ‘make financial education compulsory in all schools from primary age’. It may surprise you to know that financial education is compulsory in maintained schools, but academies and free schools have greater freedom and autonomy in how they operate.

In my view, it is essential that children are taught financial education as soon as is reasonably practical. I’m reminded of an old ABI one-liner – ‘how many people know that insurers pay more per day in pensions than the Government does?’ Children, especially in the poorest households, can be forgiven for thinking that when they get old the state will look after them and provide a pension adequate for them to live on for the rest of their lives. We need to instil the thought of how unlikely that is and that they will need to provide for themselves. In a recent article in the Daily Telegraph (18th February 2024) Andy Briggs, CEO of the Phoenix Group, one of the UK’s largest pension providers, argued that the state pension is unsustainable. “The state pension just can’t cope in the way that it was originally designed to do.” The reason being, of course, is that we are all living longer. 

IM Trustees often discuss how young children should benefit from insurance education. Here’s a quote from one of our Museum supporters:     

‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ A question commonly put to children, with predictable responses of doctors, astronauts, vets and teachers. My five-year-old has dreams of becoming a hairdresser, why, it’s a vocation she has experienced with positive memories. I am yet to hear of a five-year-old wanting to work in insurance, and why would we, unless we create opportunities for those positive experiences from the early years. Insurance has a history full of stories that can engage the young. The Insurance Museum will bring these stories to life and making them accessible to all. One day we will hear children say, ‘I want to work in insurance’.

Samantha Ridgewell, Managing Director, Empower Development.

I’m not too sure about five-year-olds but the question is relevant to the Museum’s target audience. At what age do children think about future careers?

At a City of London Conference a few months ago, one of the presenters, Mark Emmerson, CEO of the City of London Academies Trust, said that 36% of children had chosen their career by the age of seven. That was a surprise, but talking to people this does seem to carry some weight. At a recent lunch with judges at the Old Bailey as a guest of Aldermanic Sheriff Bronek Masojada I asked the judge on my right when she first decided to work in Law. She told me that she decided at the age of nine that she wanted to be a Barrister. The judge on my left said that at the age of nine, he did not know what a Barrister was! He did not choose Law until he was actually at university, changing course from a different discipline mid-way.

I left school at 17 with no firm idea about what I wanted to do. Like many of us, I fell into insurance by chance. That’s one of the reasons we want to make insurance a career of choice, rather than a career of chance.  

At an event of the Insurance Institute for London in February, we asked the question, “What made you come into insurance?” We gave the three options: parental influence, careers advisors or teachers, or “I fell into it after university”. Almost 99% of the 60-strong crowd put their hand up for the last option. Perhaps things have not changed that much.

We may not be able to persuade five-year-olds that insurance is a career for them but we might be able to tell them about insurance, persuade them not to think of it negatively and to keep an open mind.  

We are, of course, conscious that many youngsters take advice from parents, close relatives and teachers when deciding on career paths. That is why the Insurance Museum will focus its education thrust on adults as well as children.

Your views on the subject will be more than welcome.

Reg Brown – Chairman, Insurance Museum.

Chairman’s Message – Spring 2024

April 1st 2024

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