The FIA is hard at work in building the structures for NextGen, a cell within the FIA that will be managed and run specifically for intermediaries under the age of 35. We speak to Julian Tharmiha, regional manager at the FIA, who’s in charge of getting things up and running.
FIA: Give us a quick overview of NextGen and what the FIA is aiming for with this initiative?
Julian: The NextGen project has been on the FIA’s radar for some time, but the launch has been delayed by Covid. The NextGen initiative will be a youth association within the FIA for members under the age of 35.
We have many young brokers in the association and the broker community. At times, it may seem as if these younger brokers don’t have a platform to voice their opinions and concerns, or embark on projects that are strategically designed to provide value to their business. One of our aims is to provide a platform for younger brokers through which they can express themselves.
The younger generation has a unique way of thinking and applying their minds to the various situations and problems we face today. It is this different approach we want to incorporate into our structures at the FIA. The eventual aim is for NextGen to provide input at the board level.
What exactly do you mean by “a younger generation”? How would you like them to be involved?
I don't want to constrict it by defining it, but we leaned on the South African National Youth Commission Act (1996), which defines youth as those between 14 and 35 years. For this particular project, we are referring to brokers 35 and younger.
If you look within the structures of the FIA, the majority of the portfolio positions are filled by more experienced, senior individuals. Part of the goal is to diversify the committees by getting more young professionals involved and entice younger brokers to become FIA members.
I’ve been working closely with some of the young professionals in the FIA who are passionate about their business and passionate about the industry. They have excellent ideas and opinions that would flourish on a platform like NextGen. These younger individuals have been in the industry for some time but their ideas just haven’t been tapped into. Through NextGen, we’re aiming to provide a platform and a voice to the younger generation and their ideas.
It’s obvious that the FIA needs these younger brokers for a certain perspective on a shifting insurance landscape. What would NextGen and FIA membership offer these people?
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, a voice. This is an organisation dedicated to hearing you out, whether it’s your ideas or certain issues you may have. It will give you a platform to air your views and potentially run projects within the FIA, which we think will benefit younger brokers and, in some cases, the industry.
Without giving too much away, during my recent interactions with young brokers from our membership, many exciting projects were mentioned, such as specific platforms for young brokers to educate each other, to communicate on, and build their businesses. This also included the prospects of mentorship, digitisation, and cooperation around fintech projects.
Speaking of mentorship, how would you define the role of the older generation in insurance?
We don't want to alienate anyone. On the contrary, we would like NextGen to also be a platform where knowledge and expertise can be shared and accessed. Nothing can replace the knowledge and expertise gained from many years in the industry. We want to make the most of this knowledge base and experience, and carry it forward.
While remaining autonomous, we want to maximise these interactions between the younger and older members. This could happen in the way of mentorship programmes, skills workshops, or any other creative way. The older generation can also learn a thing or two from the young bucks.
What do you see as an ideal outcome for NextGen?
I want to see NextGen becoming an integral part of the FIA, and be in a position to give input to the FIA board. Ideally, we want to see NextGen representatives sitting on the FIA board. We want to make an impact in the lives of young brokers and their businesses, and to implement projects that assist young professionals in the industry. I would love to see a member of NextGen be in charge of a large business five years down the line.
How do you become a member of NextGen?
The first step is to become a member of the FIA. Stay tuned for further communication via our social media pages for news on the NextGen virtual launch.
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