Sandy Scott says that knowledge must be attained and then maintained

One of the great aviators, Wilbur Wright, is credited with having said: “It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.”

The industry has heard a great deal recently of the global skills shortage in the insurance industry, while in the UK the spotlight has been turned on the perceived lack of professionalism among practitioners.

Achieving chartered status as an individual or a firm is a significant contribution to achieving a turnaround in this perception.

Gaining an ACII after your name in some parts of the world is the only recognised insurance qualification, and that is all grist to the mill of promoting UK financial services as a centre of expertise. But professionalism and being a professional in any sector does not just mean sitting exams and holding qualifications.

“Professionalism and being a professional in any sector does not just mean sitting exams and holding qualifications

Sandy Scott Chief executive of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

Knowledge must be attained and then maintained, especially in the fast-moving markets of insurance and financial services. Continuing professional development is essential, reinforced, of course, by adherence to a code of conduct that promotes the interests of the client. “Professionalism” means high standards of both knowledge and behaviour and this is what ultimately drives public confidence.

Insurance is often referred to as a people business and relies on the networking and social engagements that have been the lifeblood of the industry for centuries. Now euphemistically called customer relationship management, the building up and maintaining of a network of contacts and relationships through trust and business friendships are also important skills to develop.

It is these which often make a business into a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. The global market is highly competitive and the 21st Century practitioner must have skills and competencies which are versatile, practical and, most importantly, relevant.

I firmly believe that we can turn the tide of pessimism by promoting insurance as the career of choice, and by striving to improve professionalism in our industry we will attract and retain the best skilled and most enthusiastic employees of the future.