Raising Standards Key to Attracting Talented People


More than 600 people at the Auckland leg of Get in Shape 2020 heard the financial services industry struggles to attract talented people due to a perceived lack of career options and professional status.

Prue Willsford, CEO of the Australian New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) says solving the issue “has to start with the industry itself”.

Speaking at the Eden Park event on Wednesday 12 February, which was supported by RisknfoNZ, Willsford said only a few elements are needed to raise the professional standing of the industry.

“Two thousand years of research shows it’s pretty simple,” she said. “You must be certified to a body of knowledge. You must be committed to ethics. And you must be committed to life-long learning.

“If we want to be professional they are the three foundational pieces that we must do.

“It’s also important in terms of not only our own pride and confidence, but in terms of being a genuine career pathway.”

If we want to have bright people joining our industry we must demonstrate career paths and show they have a professional future…

Willsford says the financial services industry worldwide struggles to attract talented people.

Prue Willsford, CEO, ANZIIF

“If we want to have bright people joining our industry we must demonstrate career paths and show they have a professional future – because they have lots of choices about where to take their human capital,” she said.

“If we are not part of that story, then over time we will be less relevant.

“Most consumers only know about home and motor insurance and have no idea of the fabulous variety of rewarding careers that exist within the financial services sector.”

Willsford says ANZIIF does lots of work promoting careers in the industry and by working with schools promoting financial literacy.

“I am a foundational believer in education,” she says. “I have seen it change my life and the lives of my family.

“I was lucky enough to be the deputy chancellor of a university and I didn’t care if I was handing out a certificate or a Phd – there was that sense of pride and achievement.

“That sense of knowing where your capabilities sit within a body of knowledge is a really important thing.”

Looking at the wider industry and the issue of trust, she said the important part of the conversation is not about building consumer trust “it’s about building your trustworthiness”.

“That is something you can control,” she said. “Those areas of character and competence are foundations of your trustworthiness and that personal relationship.”

Three elements to enhancing the industry:

  • Knowledge
  • Ethics
  • Life-long learning