The Insurance recruitment market is currently on a high in Ireland, with large scale recruitment from small SME’s to large multinational Insurance companies. As we are entering Pensions season, one area which is seeing considerable levels of recruitment is the Life and Pensions industry. Having recently filled a number of Pensions Administrators, Pensions Consultants and various other Insurance roles, I have noticed that there is an increased emphasis on industry relevant professional qualifications.
Since 2007 the CIP (Certified Insurance Practitioner), ACII (Advanced Diploma in Insurance) diploma and QFA (Qualified Financial Adviser) diploma have become the benchmark qualifications within the Insurance industry. Generally, all employees working in an advisory function within the insurance industry were given a 4 year grace period to achieve a qualification in insurance, however in December 2011, the Central bank introduced much more stringent minimum competency requirements (MCM); which makes it very difficult for any employer to hire anyone who does not have CIP, ACII or QFA after their name.
This is why I feel it is important to point out a few areas that Insurance candidates should be aware of.
A lot of people working in the Insurance industry have told me, “my current employer does not support me” when I ask them why they haven’t completed any exams. This makes it extremely difficult for them to find another job. If you are in this position then my advice is to register for and complete them yourself. Although this may be an added strain on your finances, it will be priceless in the long run when you are looking to further your career. It also shows great initiative and drive to any potential employers.
Although the CIP and QFA are the benchmark qualifications, the Central Bank has introduced a new APA (Accredited Product Adviser) qualification. This qualification allows you to meet the MCM by completing 3 specific exams out of the required 6 and it is generally accepted by most employers on the market. If you are currently completing your exams, be aware of which ones will make you APA qualified and complete these first, as attaining them will open up a lot more doors if you are job hunting over the coming years.
My final and most important piece of advice, is to take advantage of all the exam sittings and support at your disposal (ie. Tutorials, study leave). Try achieving your relevant qualification as soon as you can, as it will be the key to your future success and will actually help with your future career development.