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Need for communication and entrepreneurial skills top MGA talent development poll

Communication and entrepreneurial skills are seen as the most important skills that UK MGAs require of their employees according to the third MGAA Matters Survey1.

When asked what are key employee business skills – over and above literacy and numeracy – 89% of respondents cited communication. Negotiation (49%), sales (46%), IT (46%) followed in order of importance with foreign languages ranked last with only 6%.

Entrepreneurialism in MGA employees was also seen as the number one personal attribute more than other parts of the insurance sector, by 80% of UK MGAs. Being a self-starter, personable and resilient were all equal second (57% each) with loyalty not being seen as quite as important (49%).

For those looking to enter the MGA sector, who you know or who knows you remains key to securing employment with 35% of respondents recruiting through personal contacts. Headhunters are used by 31%.

The utilisation of apprenticeships within the UK MGA market was also analysed. 31% of respondents said they were currently employing apprentices or had done so in the past and another 37% are actively considering this route.

When asked about how to attract more graduates to the MGA sector, respondents indicated that clear career paths and promotion opportunities (both 51%) were the top benefits. Support to continue achieving relevant qualifications and CPD was a close third with 49%. Interestingly, aspects such as offering an enhanced salary package and more graduate training schemes were not considered as important (both 20% of respondents).

Once hired, 89% of the MGAs questioned train their staff in-house with 46% paying for external training courses and 26% offering a formal accredited training programme. Only 6% did not offer a formal training programme.

MGAA Matters is a research-based partnership between the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA) and MGA start-up specialists Castel Underwriting Agencies (Castel). It was launched in 2014 to identify and raise awareness of the issues currently impacting the growth and success of UK MGAs.

Commenting on the MGAA Matters survey results, Mark Birrell, chief executive officer of Castel said: “More than any other sector of the UK insurance market, MGAs need employees that can communicate, innovate and utilise entrepreneurial skills to target and win business from brokers with niche clients.

“To succeed in this competitive market, MGAs also need to recruit the best and continually nurture their talent to ensure the whole business from admin to CEO is always at the top of its game.”

Peter Staddon, managing director of the MGAA said: “Talent is the lifeblood of an MGA especially in the early years following launch when teams are often small. The third MGAA Matters survey has clearly shown that soft skills have a vital role to play and as an association the MGAA needs to drive forward the use of apprenticeships and continual education to produce the leaders and new business creators of the future.”