Insurance Industry Fueled by Finance, Accounting Professionals
Dona DeZube, Monster Finance Careers Expert
The financial complexity and sophistication of the insurance industry make it an exciting place for accounting and financial professionals to work. “Insurance companies, by virtue of having thousands of small transactions, are numbers-oriented companies,” says Kathleen Enright, assistant vice president of financial reporting for a large insurance firm in Northbrook, Illinois, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Insurance Expert Panel. “It’s being able to aggregate those transactions and those results that requires so much skill.”
Finance and accounting professionals often start out at large insurance companies as entry-level accountants where they process customer transactions in operations, close the books in corporate accounting or work in financial reporting where data from all parts of the company come together.
Most outside hiring into professional-level accounting positions at State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois, occurs at the finance-trainee level, says Lisa Finch, a human resources representative. “For the trainee level, we generally seek new grads or candidates who have been out of school five years or less, with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, plus at least 18 hours of accounting coursework and a GPA of at least 3.5,” she says. A CPA or continuing education is a plus.
Trainees then work as analysts or in supervisory roles after training, depending on their skill set and the company’s needs, Finch says. As Enright explains, after starting in one area, moving around to other areas will give you a broad-based understanding of the company’s accounting, which can help advance your insurance career.
Finch also recommends taking advantage of corporate support for certifications such as the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), or another professional designation from a trade group such as America’s Health Insurance Plans or LOMA International.
Large insurance companies also use accounting and finance professionals to complete financial reports required by state regulators, adds Bryan Cascarano, a senior recruiter for the Mergis Group’s Atlanta office.