Insurance account management is a mixture of sales and marketing. Employed by insurance companies, account managers manage existing business portfolios and relationships with agents, which include insurance brokers and financial advisers. As well as maintaining existing relationships, they also seek new opportunities to profitably grow their company's insurance business.
Account managers promote their company's insurance products and benefits, encouraging brokers and financial advisers to sell more policies to individual clients. Typically, they handle accounts in one kind of insurance product.
With larger corporate accounts, account managers approach prospective partners. They may lead the bidding process and contract negotiations. This involves working with different business teams to create project plans. These include marketing, ICT, customer service and compliance teams. Managers may also co-ordinate the roll-out of insurance schemes, making sure that service standards are met.
Levels of responsibility vary, ranging from making basic business introductions to underwriters, through to the complete placement and management of business accounts.
Work may include:
Managers may also be responsible for the administration of the account, writing reports and arranging update meetings.
Insurance account managers usually work office hours, Monday to Friday. The job involves a good deal of traveling to clients' premises. It may involve some early and late meetings, as well as attending corporate entertainment events. Part-time work may be possible.
Account managers usually have an office based in the insurance company, although some work from home. They usually cover a geographical area or have set accounts to manage. Those covering rural locations may travel extensively. A driving licence is helpful.
Junior insurance account managers may earn between £15,000 and £30,000 a year. Salaries for experienced people leading valuable accounts and preparing business tenders can reach around £50,000 a year.
Those managing high-value accounts and pitching for business could earn in excess of £70,000 a year.
It is also common to earn commission and bonuses on top of basic salaries. A benefits package may also include a company car allowance, subsidised insurance and pension benefits.
There are over 1,000 insurance companies in the UK. Most of them employ account managers, both in their headquarters and in regional offices. These are situated mainly in cities and large towns. Large firms of insurance brokers also employ account managers to develop commercial relationships with corporate partners.
Job vacancies are advertised in national newspapers and in publications such as Post Magazine, Insurance Age and Insurance Times. They also appear on the websites of individual companies and specialist insurance, finance or marketing recruitment agencies.
Entry requirements vary between employers. It may be possible to enter the role after completing a marketing or generic insurance graduate training programme. Although there is often no subject requirement, a business management - or marketing orientated - degree would be more relevant to the job. A 2:1 degree may be needed for some graduate schemes.
A big element of insurance account management is conveying information clearly in reports and presentations. As a minimum, employers would usually expect Level 2 qualifications, such as GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent, in English or maths. A levels, or qualifications at a similar level, such as the Advanced Diploma in business, administration and finance, may be required to enter an insurance company's management training scheme.
Direct entry into account management jobs is unlikely without a comprehensive knowledge of the insurance sector. Many start as insurance technicians, junior account handlers, underwriters or sales administrators, and progress into account management after gaining experience. A background in sales, financial advice or another area of financial services can be equally useful.
Careers at this level can be accessed via the Apprenticeship in providing financial services, which offers pathways in general insurance, including:
Level 2 Apprenticeship in providing financial services - no formal academic entry requirements.
Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in providing financial services - entry with Level 2 qualifications, such as completion of the Level 2 Apprenticeship or GCSE's (A*-C).
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Employers train new account managers in-house. Account managers usually observe and support colleagues before taking over their own sales accounts. They may receive specific product training, as well as guidance on handling customers, selling, dealing with potential objections and closing sales.
Some employers may require their account managers to demonstrate their understanding of insurance products by undertaking specialist technical qualifications offered by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), including:
Those working for an insurance company that mainly markets products to independent financial advisers may be encouraged to take qualifications in financial advice and planning offered by the CII or IFS School of Finance.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offer a range of professional qualifications that may be relevant for people in account management. These range from introductory right up to postgraduate levels.
The CIM offers a range of sales-orientated qualifications, including:
NVQ's in marketing, sales or management are also available at Levels 2, 3 and 4, and Level 5 in management.
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An insurance account manager needs:
Insurance account managers may progress to sales manager, area manager and sales director. Progression may be quicker for those willing to relocate to another geographical area or move between employers.
Managers may move into marketing, training or compliance within the insurance or financial sector. They may use the skills developed - selling, negotiation and project management - to transfer into business development jobs within other industry sectors.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM),
Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead,
Berkshire SL6 9QH
Tel: 01628 427120
Chartered Management Institute,
Management House, Cottingham Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 1TT
Tel: 01536 204 222
ifs School of Finance, ifs House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 818609
The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM),
Harrier Court, Lower Woodside, Bedfordshire LU1 4DQ
Tel: 01582 840001
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.