“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”

“I am not young enough to know everything,”  or so goes the supposed Oscar Wilde quote.

Any of you old enough to believe this may now have a wry smile in acknowledgement in the folly of youth. However in a quirky twist of fate this is a misquote and is actually from a JM Barrie play – the creator of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up – a role model it seems for many in the insurance industry!

Wilde’s quote was in fact: “The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything,” and as a middle-aged man, I suspect that to be true in many regards.

One thing the older and occasionally the wiser generation have on their side is the undoubted value of knowledge and experience, and the benefits of relationships forged over many years – often of real value in the insurance industry and the London market in particular.

It’s strange, but in many cultures growing older is seen as the road to wisdom and is held in high regard. Sadly, perhaps not so in the UK. But the concept of youth is having a major negative effect on the insurance industry, or to be precise the lack of it.

My view is that there is no use having an ageing population of insurance gurus, with unrivalled expertise in a global market, if those very same people don’t pass on their learning and wisdom, don’t provide the right platforms for training and development and most importantly, don’t have the ability to attract new talent in the first place.

Lloyd’s vision for 2025 is to be a market where entrepreneurialism and innovation will thrive, combined with the ability to attract the best talent and provide an accelerated career path for the progression of high achievers.

If that vision is to come to fruition then a real change in mind-set needs to take place, so heading into 2016 if you’re one of those ‘Gurus’ put your hand up and volunteer to be a coach or mentor.

Mentoring can be as beneficial to the mentor as the mentee; helping someone develop their career and supporting that individual’s growth, while coaching can help someone really focus on what’s important in their role – performance improvements, a change of skill-sets and even behaviours.

We need to mix knowledge and experience with fresh ideas, innovation, creativity and drive. The world of insurance is changing rapidly – and sadly there is no such thing as a real life Peter Pan!

Stewart Taylor

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