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Where Do I Progress From Here?

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[OP]
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Mar 1, 2008
14174 posts
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Toronto, Ontario

Where Do I Progress From Here?

I've been working in insurance for over 4 years now and I still cannot break the $50k barrier. I graduated from Ryerson with an undergraduate degree majoring in finance in 2015, and am currently employed as an intermediate personal lines underwriter. I'm looking for a new job but I feel like I'm stuck in the insurance sector. How do I progress from my current job as an underwriter? I'm looking to get back into a business or IT related job and it seems my current job experience and skills don't translate over at all. I recently obtained my CIP as well.

Edit: I want to add I am expecting a promotion to senior underwriter by year end. My manager has recognized my skills and how I really know my stuff and do an excellent job underwriting, as well as being a great team player and trainer for my new colleagues. I'd like to think I'm one of the better underwriters on the team and I've been recognized by the manager, VPs, and above as well.
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Deal Fanatic
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Dec 8, 2007
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1. Get promo
2. Stick around long enough to become really good at it while concurrently exploring where you can go next
3. Start working your way towards that next step

For most junior level roles in most large organizations the rule of thumb is not to stick to a position for more than 2 years or so. The first 3-6 months is learning how to do the job, the next year is adding value to the business, and then round 18 months you go into 'What do I want to do next and how do I work towards it' mode. At that point you should be able to do the job with your eyes closed and should be able to perform at a very high level while concurrently networking, doing job shadows, having coffees, etc. etc.

That's the meat and potatoes standard approach.

Now go read the posts in the $100K thread. There may be some overlap to the above, but what I also see is a willingness to jump ship to another company if the opportunity presents itself to grow your skills, responsibilities, and ultimately income.
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Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5123 posts
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Toronto
TodayHello wrote: 1. Get promo
Definitely agree with this. Don't leave if you're still confident a promotion is around the corner. It's so much easier to find something better when you already have something good. Getting a better job is much easier as a new supervisor/senior something than as someone who has been stuck in a dead end. Just like getting a job is much easier if you already have one, than if you are unemployed. Don't think "I don't want to be in insurance anyway so why should I wait to become a senior underwriter?". Take it and leverage it.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
3752 posts
1834 upvotes
geokilla wrote: I've been working in insurance for over 4 years now and I still cannot break the $50k barrier. I graduated from Ryerson with an undergraduate degree majoring in finance in 2015, and am currently employed as an intermediate personal lines underwriter. I'm looking for a new job but I feel like I'm stuck in the insurance sector. How do I progress from my current job as an underwriter? I'm looking to get back into a business or IT related job and it seems my current job experience and skills don't translate over at all. I recently obtained my CIP as well.

Edit: I want to add I am expecting a promotion to senior underwriter by year end. My manager has recognized my skills and how I really know my stuff and do an excellent job underwriting, as well as being a great team player and trainer for my new colleagues. I'd like to think I'm one of the better underwriters on the team and I've been recognized by the manager, VPs, and above as well.
Do you want to stay in insurance and make more money or do you want to get out of insurance entirely?
Newbie
Dec 7, 2010
60 posts
14 upvotes
MyNameWasTaken wrote: Do you want to stay in insurance and make more money or do you want to get out of insurance entirely?
That question.
And
Would you like your job if you were making 60k?
What’s a business related job?
How big is the company you are working for?

The insurance sector as great opportunities. I am bias towards the P&C side.
[OP]
Deal Guru
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Mar 1, 2008
14174 posts
3391 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Manatus wrote:
Definitely agree with this. Don't leave if you're still confident a promotion is around the corner. It's so much easier to find something better when you already have something good. Getting a better job is much easier as a new supervisor/senior something than as someone who has been stuck in a dead end. Just like getting a job is much easier if you already have one, than if you are unemployed. Don't think "I don't want to be in insurance anyway so why should I wait to become a senior underwriter?". Take it and leverage it.
Had a meeting with my manager yesterday and he said we gotta wait for another round of audits before we can start looking into promoting me. Says I don't have enough audits completed right now. I understand what you're saying but based on the rumours circling around, it's easier to get that promotion by jumping around and finding another job compared to internal promotion.
MyNameWasTaken wrote:
Do you want to stay in insurance and make more money or do you want to get out of insurance entirely?
PLg wrote:
That question.
And
Would you like your job if you were making 60k?
What’s a business related job?
How big is the company you are working for?

The insurance sector as great opportunities. I am bias towards the P&C side.
I work in one of the top 3 P&C insurers in Canada as an intermediate underwriter. I don't mind staying in insurance if I can make more money, but I need to find and see what kind of future I have. Being under compensated by about 25% to 30% to my peers who joined intermediate underwriting at the same time as me isn't very encouraging either. I get paid less because I'm an internal hire while they're external Disappointed But Relieved Face Looking at job postings, I feel like my skill set is limited and unless I move back into a sales producer/agent role, I won't ever get close to $80k?

I definitely don't want to stay on queue and work shifts for the next 35 to 40 years. Don't think I've have a good quality of life making less than $60k either.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5123 posts
1920 upvotes
Toronto
geokilla wrote: Had a meeting with my manager yesterday and he said we gotta wait for another round of audits before we can start looking into promoting me. Says I don't have enough audits completed right now. I understand what you're saying but based on the rumours circling around, it's easier to get that promotion by jumping around and finding another job compared to internal promotion.
Fair. If you feel that they're just stringing you along, I would look for other options now as well. I've been in that position and stayed too long, and believed that it was just around the corner every time, and they would help me get there blah blah. In the end I set myself a deadline for something concrete to happen - at least being given a firm timeframe - and when that didn't happen, I left.

I would suggest something similar. You need to do more audits, fair enough. How many is "more"? When are they going to happen? Once you hit that number, are you going to be in the promotion process, not "we'll think about it"? What are the actual things you need to do, to gain experience in, before they promote you? If they're not prepared to get down to business and give you concrete steps, actual things you can do to put you in the driver's seat, they're just stalling and hoping they can fob you off while still retaining you.

I've heard this "get more experience and then we'll think about looking into promoting you" too many times, and it's meaningless. Give me a plan with real goals, that once I've completed the plan and you agree I've met those goals, that means you agree I'm ready.
Member
May 19, 2008
202 posts
65 upvotes
I was an underwriter for about a year. Are you able to transition to the commercial side? The complexity of the files and the pay is generally higher in commercial. Back in 2014 the company I worked for was paying $48K for commercial underwriting trainees.
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
3658 posts
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Manatus wrote: Fair. If you feel that they're just stringing you along, I would look for other options now as well. I've been in that position and stayed too long, and believed that it was just around the corner every time, and they would help me get there blah blah. In the end I set myself a deadline for something concrete to happen - at least being given a firm timeframe - and when that didn't happen, I left.

I would suggest something similar. You need to do more audits, fair enough. How many is "more"? When are they going to happen? Once you hit that number, are you going to be in the promotion process, not "we'll think about it"? What are the actual things you need to do, to gain experience in, before they promote you? If they're not prepared to get down to business and give you concrete steps, actual things you can do to put you in the driver's seat, they're just stalling and hoping they can fob you off while still retaining you.

I've heard this "get more experience and then we'll think about looking into promoting you" too many times, and it's meaningless. Give me a plan with real goals, that once I've completed the plan and you agree I've met those goals, that means you agree I'm ready.
I agree with this. If your manager doesn't given you specifics (e.g. how many audits or a timeframe) I wouldn't wait around because he likely has no intention of promoting you - too many companies take advantage of paying good, competent employees by paying them less just because they can (especially if they think you'll stick around).

I would be honest with him and tell him exactly what you mentioned post #6 - that you don't don't feel appreciated (paid less for the same work at your colleagues) and you'll have to looking elsewhere. If he really values you, he'll get you promoted ASAP. If not, he'll give you the same tired excuses to string you along and thing you'll know, 10+years later you're still stuck in a similar situation...not that I speak from experience :rolleyes:
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Sr. Member
Aug 7, 2011
690 posts
239 upvotes
You might not think your skills are relevant but you probably have a lot of industry experience (hopefully). Don't discount that because at times that is all that it takes to get into IT.

You need to show a great deal of willingness to learn and network, but I see some light at the end of the tunnel if you're able to find an IT or consulting role where the project focuses on insurance industry and someone with industry knowledge is required to translate business requirements into technical ones.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
3752 posts
1834 upvotes
geokilla wrote: Had a meeting with my manager yesterday and he said we gotta wait for another round of audits before we can start looking into promoting me. Says I don't have enough audits completed right now. I understand what you're saying but based on the rumours circling around, it's easier to get that promotion by jumping around and finding another job compared to internal promotion.





I work in one of the top 3 P&C insurers in Canada as an intermediate underwriter. I don't mind staying in insurance if I can make more money, but I need to find and see what kind of future I have. Being under compensated by about 25% to 30% to my peers who joined intermediate underwriting at the same time as me isn't very encouraging either. I get paid less because I'm an internal hire while they're external Disappointed But Relieved Face Looking at job postings, I feel like my skill set is limited and unless I move back into a sales producer/agent role, I won't ever get close to $80k?

I definitely don't want to stay on queue and work shifts for the next 35 to 40 years. Don't think I've have a good quality of life making less than $60k either.
Thanks, here are my recommendations. Your skillset is not limited, however, it will be stunted if you continue to stay on queue like you mentioned. I remember when I used to be on queue, then I looked around and like you, I thought F this. Everyone here already has 1 goal in mind and that's to get off queue, and most people don't even take those on queues seriously, that's when I jumped ship.

You can definitely make more money, but with insurance you absolutely need to jump ship these days OR have a good internal relationship (but even then you'll be paid less). It sounds like your manager is playing games to make himself look good (you're a top performer) and stringing you along with a carrot. In your current role they are are going to be more people competing for roles outside the queue (see: Belair/Intact, Desjardins). Which brings me to my next point...

Jump ship to the P&C commercial side, but with a company that has true global clients. I've seen postings from Swiss Re, Munich Re, Chubb insurance (currently hiring), CNA Insurance, Zurich all looking for minimum 2 years experience and they will easily start you off at $60,000+. The CIP gives you a leg up too. Forget the Canadian companies like Aviva & Intact, they are more limited with their reach and saturated.

Next, look at different industries (think transportation like TTC, Metrolinx) and risk roles. A lot of them value people with insurance experience. OR, I know you said you weren't a fan of it, but look into a broker ship like Marsh or Aon. Marsh pays well and promotes quickly if you do a good job. I don't believe their jobs are queue based, they usually deal with a book of business.

Alternatively, you can look into other roles with insurance like claims. Sometimes it's easier to get into another company through claims, quickly make connections and prove yourself, and then transfer back to underwriting or somewhere else. But again, go back to my first point. You want to work at global companies even with claims. More recognition, quicker growth. Find out the top global insurance companies (like I mentioned above) that have offices in Canada, and apply to those.

Finally, there are also different companies you can look into like (Managing General Agents (MGA), just check Linkedin job search. They function similar to underwriters, but are specialized. They will probably be willing to train you and pay you more to start if you bring solid experience.

If you want me to expand on anything or review anything, let me know!
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
3752 posts
1834 upvotes
Here are some postings from Marsh - Personal Underwriter, Marsh - Client Rep and Burns & Wilcox Canada - Underwriter

Try to get into cyber or financial lines to underwrite if you can. You can also become an Account Manager or even switch to mortgage underwriter or life/health. You most likely will need to get your RIBO for a broker, but that is easily attainable (like 3 months).
[OP]
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Mar 1, 2008
14174 posts
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Toronto, Ontario
I don't wanna make this a super long post so I'm not gonna quote.

@Manatus @hierophant I was told I need another set of audits and as long as they return meeting or exceeding expectations, then I'm good and we can start the process to put forth that proposal for a promotion. The only question is when those next set of audits will come, which I'll ask about in our meeting next week. Usually they happen every quarter but my manager mentioned in the past he wants to speed up the process for me. I assume it's so I can get promoted before he gets replaced as my manager later this year?

@Dk28 I've never done commercial work before and I don't see any internal job postings right now so probably not. I know when I was looking for internal positions over a year ago, some junior positions were considered a downgrade so I would have lost pay. I imagine if I transition to commercial internally, I'd have to start off as junior commercial underwriter. I have heard that pay in underwriting hasn't increased at all. In fact, it's decreased once inflation has been factored in.

@MyNameWasTaken Thanks for that information. I'll definitely look into the competition and the international companies. Do you think it's possible to transition into life and health companies like Manulife or Sun Life? Where are you working right now if you don't mind me asking? I used to have RIBO and currently hold an OTL so I presume that helps.

Do you guys mind if I upload my resume and you guys evaluate it?
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
3752 posts
1834 upvotes
Hey @geokilla ,

Multinationals are the way to go, especially if you want to build a future quickly in this industry IMO. I know people who have worked at Chubb, Northbridge (part of Fairfax), AIG, AXA, Travelers, Swiss Re, CNA, Munich Re, Liberty Mutual, Zurich, Allianz and they've all been able to switch quickly (like 2 years) for more money or title because of the knowledge they bring. Even with your next set of audits, I don't think you'll be paid more than any of the above companies even if they gave you a "junior" title. Best to leave while you're exceeding performance if you want growth. Commercial insurance just involves more risk because of the greater exposure.

I mentioned health because it is a growing industry and multinationals are also writing this business. It should be an easy transition because the principles of insurance are similar, the risk is just different. However, because you have your CIP, and 4+ years in P&C, I think you should first be paid for that. I recommend staying in P&C but switching to a multinational, broker, or MGA, even if you have to go the claims route (which is still better than doing personal line claims). I would just first make sure that whatever you apply to isn't a call centre type environment. I used to work at RBC sales and it was horrible with the micromanagement. Now their business is with Desjardins, but similar environment. If you want to look into more education on the P&C type to help with commercial risk, look into risk management or the commercial insurance program offered by the institute.

Definitely open to giving feedback on your resume.
Newbie
Dec 7, 2014
50 posts
50 upvotes
Scarborough, ON
geokilla wrote: I've been working in insurance for over 4 years now and I still cannot break the $50k barrier. I graduated from Ryerson with an undergraduate degree majoring in finance in 2015, and am currently employed as an intermediate personal lines underwriter. I'm looking for a new job but I feel like I'm stuck in the insurance sector. How do I progress from my current job as an underwriter? I'm looking to get back into a business or IT related job and it seems my current job experience and skills don't translate over at all. I recently obtained my CIP as well.

Edit: I want to add I am expecting a promotion to senior underwriter by year end. My manager has recognized my skills and how I really know my stuff and do an excellent job underwriting, as well as being a great team player and trainer for my new colleagues. I'd like to think I'm one of the better underwriters on the team and I've been recognized by the manager, VPs, and above as well.
Hey I'm late to the party here, but I will tell you that Insurance is a notoriously shitty industry. I would just say GTFO and find the same role in a different sector. Just my .02$

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