Insurance account managers promote their company's insurance products to those who will be directly selling them, such as brokers and independent financial advisers (IFAs).

It is an account manager's role to develop sales of the products and business accounts and they will usually specialise in one particular area of insurance such as:

  • corporate insurance;
  • life assurance;
  • reinsurance.

Insurance account managers work with a caseload of several clients, building up long-term relationships with them. They play a central role in introducing new insurance products to the market, while also seeking to maintain the commercial performance of existing products.

Insurance account managers have a detailed knowledge of their employer's portfolio of products and can target policies to their clients to supply the most appropriate product.

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

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

Responsibilities

Insurance account managers usually work to sales targets. Work is mainly with commercial insurance, although the tasks are similar in all sectors and typically include:

  • gaining new business by identifying and exploiting opportunities in the local market;
  • developing and maintaining good working relationships with clients, primarily insurance brokers and independent financial advisers (IFAs);
  • introducing new products and promoting them through regular visits and communication with intermediaries;
  • increasing profitability of existing product lines by encouraging clients to use added value services wherever possible;
  • consulting on the most effective cover for a particular need;
  • delivering good customer service by responding swiftly to queries and concerns from clients;
  • maintaining detailed knowledge of new and existing products by liaising with colleagues;
  • ensuring credibility with clients by maintaining detailed knowledge of current market conditions and competitors' products;
  • monitoring and reporting on performance against agreed sales targets, sometimes including monitoring the performance of other sales staff;
  • ensuring 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;
  • working with underwriters to amend policies where necessary in order to meet client demand;
  • producing 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, salaries can reach £35,000.
  • Salaries for those with substantial experience, e.g. senior management roles, can be in excess of £50,000.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Employee benefits

In addition to the basic salary, it is common to earn significantly more in bonuses or commission for reaching or exceeding targets. This means that those who enjoy and succeed in sales 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.

Working hours

Working hours are mainly 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although the client-focused nature of the work means that evening work is common when entertaining or meeting with clients.

What to expect

  • The work can be office or home based initially, although management posts require greater presence in the office.
  • Self-employment is possible with experience by moving into a position as a broker or independent financial adviser (IFA).
  • Career breaks are possible but training and professional knowledge must be kept up to date.
  • Positions are available in large towns and cities in the UK and in rural areas, with the possibility of working from home.
  • Smart business dress is required, given the client-focused nature of the work.
  • Working to demanding targets can be stressful.
  • Travel during the working day is necessary to visit clients. Overnight stays are occasionally required but overseas travel is rare.

Qualifications

Although this area is open to all graduates/diplomates, the following degree or HND subjects may be useful:

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

A good degree, usually a 2:1 or above, is the minimum requirement for entry onto graduate training schemes.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.

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. Progression to account manager is possible after gaining experience and insurance industry qualifications.

It may be possible to gain entry into the insurance industry through an apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship in Providing Financial Services.

Skills

Personal qualities and skills are seen to be as important as qualifications and experience for this area of work.

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;
  • teamworking skills.

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 is 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;
  • large brokers.

The UK's insurance market is the largest in Europe and third largest in the world, employing around 315,000 people - more than a third of whom are directly employed by insurers and the remainder in auxiliary services such as broking (Association of British Insurers (ABI), 2014).

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. Lloyd's is a unique insurance market where brokers place business on the market for their clients. This business is then taken up by a syndicate of underwriters or individual companies within the London Underwriting Centre (LUC).

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.

Get more tips on how to find a job, create a successful CV and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.

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.

Most insurance account managers gain one of the industry's professional qualifications, if they have not 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 and is offered by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

Employers will usually encourage you to follow these professional qualifications, choosing modules relevant to the specialist area you work in.

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.

For those 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 will undertake the CII Diploma in Insurance as part of their training. This two-year programme provides a broad understanding or roles within insurance and includes four six-month placements as well as a range of technical and interpersonal skill workshops.

Some account managers take other related qualifications in areas such as sales technique and people management. Courses are offered by many organisations including the:

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

Career prospects

With experience and a good performance record, it is possible to 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 is 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 is possible to transfer your sales and marketing skills into other business areas outside of insurance.