You'll need excellent customer service and negotiations skills, as well as a results-driven approach to succeed as an insurance account manager

As an insurance account manager, you'll promote your company's insurance products to those who will be directly selling them, typically brokers and independent financial advisers (IFAs). You'll have detailed knowledge of your employer's portfolio of products and will develop sales of the products and business accounts.

You'll work with a caseload of several clients, building up long-term relationships with them, and will play a central role in introducing new insurance products to the market, while also seeking to maintain the commercial performance of existing products.

Jobs will not necessarily be advertised as 'account manager' and other job titles may include:

  • account executive
  • business developer
  • commercial insurance manager
  • customer service director
  • relationship manager
  • senior account handler.

Types of insurance account manager

Work is mainly in commercial insurance and you'll usually specialise in one particular area, such as:

  • corporate insurance
  • life assurance
  • reinsurance.

Responsibilities

As an insurance account manager, you'll need to:

  • attract new business by identifying and exploiting opportunities in the local market
  • develop and maintain good working relationships with clients, primarily insurance brokers and IFAs
  • introduce new products and promote them through regular visits and communication with intermediaries
  • increase the profitability of existing product lines by encouraging clients to use added-value services wherever possible
  • consult on the most effective cover for a particular need
  • deliver good customer service by responding swiftly to queries and concerns from clients
  • liaise with colleagues to keep your knowledge of new and existing products up to date
  • keep up to date with current market conditions and competitors' products
  • monitor and report on performance against agreed sales targets, (which at a more senior level can include monitoring the performance of other sales staff)
  • ensure compliance with regulations and procedures as laid down by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) by keeping up to date with all changes in the regulatory framework
  • work with underwriters to amend policies where necessary in order to meet client demand
  • produce marketing literature and website content to support marketing campaigns.

Salary

  • Starting salaries typically range from £18,000 to £22,000, although graduates on a graduate-training scheme with a major insurance company may earn more.
  • With a few years' experience, your salary can range from £25,000 to £50,000.
  • Salaries for those with substantial experience, e.g. senior management roles, can range from £50,000 to in excess of £80,000.

Salaries may vary depending on a range of factors, including your location and the size of the company you work for.

In addition to your basic salary, you're likely to earn significantly more in bonuses or commission for reaching or exceeding targets. This means that if you enjoy and succeed in sales, you can decide to forego promotion and still achieve high levels of reward.

Additional benefits may include a company car allowance, private medical insurance and pension benefits.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although the client-focused nature of the work means you may have to work some evenings when entertaining or meeting with clients.

What to expect

  • You'll usually be based in an office, although there may be opportunities to work from home.
  • Jobs are available in large towns and cities across the UK, as well as in rural areas if you're working from home.
  • With experience, it's possible to become self-employed and move into a role as a broker or IFA.
  • Working to demanding sales targets can be challenging, although the financial rewards can be good for those who enjoy this type of work.
  • You may need to travel during the day to meet clients. Overseas travel is rare.

Qualifications

Although this area of insurance is open to all graduates and diplomates, the following degree or HND subjects may improve your chances:

  • business and management
  • economics
  • marketing
  • mathematics
  • statistics.

You'll need a good degree, usually a 2:1 or above, for entry onto a graduate training scheme with one of the large insurance companies. However, some schemes, for example the Lloyd's Graduate Programme, will accept a 2:2. Personal qualities and skills are typically viewed as just as important as qualifications in the insurance industry.

Entry without a degree is possible in a support or administrative position, such as insurance technician, sales administrator, junior account handler or call centre operator. You can then progress to account manager after getting experience and insurance industry qualifications.

You can also get into the insurance industry through an apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship in insurance and financial planning.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • an interest in meeting new people and relationship management skills
  • strong sales and negotiation skills
  • the ability to inspire trust
  • good customer service skills
  • a results-driven approach to work in order to meet targets
  • strong presentation skills
  • numeracy, especially the ability to analyse and interpret statistical data
  • attention to detail and accurate record keeping
  • integrity, sincerity and discretion
  • the ability to develop and deliver innovative ideas
  • commercial awareness and a keen interest in business
  • excellent time management skills and self-motivation
  • computer literacy
  • team working skills.

You will also need a driving licence for visits to clients.

Work experience

Relevant work experience with an insurance company or within the wider financial services sector may improve your chances. Many of the major insurance companies have work placement or summer internship programmes. Competition for places is strong and employers often ask for a predicted 2:1 or above.

It's also possible to get into account handling with previous experience in areas such as customer service, sales, marketing or financial advice.

Employers

Insurance account managers are employed by two main types of employer - insurance companies and large brokers.

The top ten general insurance and life and pension insurance groups are the most likely to recruit and train graduates through formal schemes, although account managers with experience are regularly sought by smaller insurers.

Insurance account managers are also employed by Lloyd's, the world's specialist insurance and reinsurance market.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies handle vacancies. See advertisements in the national press and specialist journals. The large insurance companies advertise vacancies on their websites.

Professional development

Graduates on structured-training schemes usually spend time gaining experience across all functions of the business before specialising in a particular area. This could be in sales, which can then lead on to account management roles. Support and mentoring is provided by senior colleagues.

Insurance account managers generally undergo on-the-job training, which focuses on their employer's business, insurance products and services. This is usually carried out through a combination of structured in-house training courses and shadowing experienced colleagues. Sales training may be provided.

You will usually work towards one of the industry's professional qualifications, if you haven't done so already in a previous role. The Advanced Diploma in Insurance is the starting point for many graduates, as it provides a comprehensive overview of insurance. The qualification is offered by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

Employers will usually encourage you to follow these professional qualifications, choosing modules relevant to your specialist area. Upon completion of the Advanced Diploma, CII members are entitled to use the designation 'ACII' and are eligible for chartered status (subject to having five years' experience, not necessarily post-qualification) with the CII.

If you're interested in the London insurance market, the CII offers the Award in London Market Insurance (ALMI), which provides a flexible study path for those interested in a career in this area.

Graduates on the Lloyd's Graduate Programme take the CII Diploma in Insurance as part of their training. This two-year programme provides a broad understanding of roles within insurance and includes four six-month placements.

Some account managers take other related qualifications in areas such as sales technique and people management. Courses are offered by many organisations including The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the ISM.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential throughout your career. The CII runs a CPD scheme for all qualified members. Regular in-house training is followed by all insurance account managers.

Career prospects

With experience and a good performance record, you can move into a senior account manager role, perhaps with greater responsibility for monitoring and meeting targets.

With five to ten years' experience, insurance account managers can move into sales management positions. This involves overseeing the performance of a team of account managers and other sales staff. Geographical mobility can help career development.

The next step is to manage a geographical area or region, through supervision of a team of local managers. While contact with key clients is still part of the role, there's more emphasis on strategic planning, people management and liaison with other senior managers. Greater flexibility of working hours, with more travel, may be required.

Some account managers choose to change emphasis and become independent financial advisers (IFAs) or brokers, looking to gain greater personal responsibility and reward for their sales efforts. Some become self-employed in these roles.

It's also possible to transfer your sales and marketing skills into other business areas outside of insurance.