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7 reasons to major in insurance & risk management



Fast-paced change means more risks and more corresponding complexity for our world than ever before. There’s an increase in catastrophes, and other risks that are affecting the environment, society as well as technology. It is little surprise that risk managers and underwriting insurance specialists are some of the most sought-after talent in the world with the industry net-worth predicted to be US $80-billion by 2020. It’s therefore a profession primed for growth and opportunity.

Curious? Here are seven reasons why you should consider majoring in insurance and risk management:

  1. You’ll be in-demand: There’s a global scarcity for these kinds of skills, in particular for underwriting skills.  Risk is a constant, which means you’ll never be irrelevant. You’ll always be a highly-valued asset.
  2. You can work anywhere in the world: This skills shortage inevitably means you’ll be marketable from a global perspective. You can work anywhere in the world – but we hope you stay in SA! There are numerous opportunities here on home ground.
  3. You’ll be paid well: We should probably mention that the financial industry is one of the world’s highest paying sector with salaries averagely ranging from R300 000 to over R1.3-million per annum.
  4. You’ll learn: With more risks come more complexity, which means you’ll never stop learning. As each new risk arises, you’ll need to learn how to manage it. This requires coming up with new solutions to keep society as safe as possible. That leads to deeper knowledge and understanding of risks and ultimately to richer decision-making.
  5. You’ll innovate: You’ll be at the forefront of intellect and innovation, which makes this a really exciting career! There are exponential opportunities to keep coming up with creative, innovative ways to predict risk, mitigate and underwrite it.
  6. You’ll develop: There are numerous development opportunities. You’ll have to stay abreast with what’s happening in the world around you, including all the technological and AI advancements. There are also multiple paths to pivot to in this field – you could be a risk surveyor, risk engineer or an underwriter to name a few.
  7. You’ll protect people: There is serious fulfilment in knowing your role is to empower people to stay safe.  Insurance is not easily understood by the public and being a risk expert will allow you to share your knowledge widely and assist those who need protection to better understand how to protect themselves against misfortunes and bad luck.

“People in risk and insurance underwriting also come from diverse backgrounds which means you’ll be blessed to collaborate with fascinating peers from very different fields of expertise so you can consider problems from its many facets,” says Shehnaz Somers, Head: Commercial Underwriting at Santam who holds a Masters degree in French Literature. “I did not think I would end up in (re)insurance but it’s the opportunity to keep learning and acquiring new skills that keeps one enthralled and furthers career progress in this field.  You’ll never be bored and you’ll never be boring.  A major in this field means open-mindedness and a consistent desire to know more.”

Somers concludes, “Santam offers a graduate programme to foster top talent among budding underwriting practitioners. We want to empower you to reach your full potential in this rich and rewarding industry.”