From Underwriter to Recruiter


Two years ago I made a profound personal decision to move from America to the UK to be with my long time fiancée (now my wife). I was aware how this decision would immediately impact my personal life but I had no idea the consequences it would have for my professional life. One thing was for certain – I knew that I would at least have to change companies as my current employer had closed their UK offices a year earlier so an intercompany transfer was not possible. Therefore I was ready for that type of change, but little did I know just how much more change was to come.

Personally things went according to plan; we got married, had a beautiful daughter, adjusted to living in a foreign country and adapted to new traditions and standards, but although the UK wasn’t too dissimilar from the States I still find myself confounded at just how different the English language is in America than it is in England – I still to this day can’t say aluminium the British way!

For nearly ten years I built a career in the Insurance and Finance fields in the States and worked for companies including RBS and The Hartford Insurance Group. For the last seven of these years I was a successful Commercial Lines Underwriter and absolutely loved my job. When I first moved over to the UK in April 2014 I was only interested in working as an underwriter – that’s what I knew and loved and after all, this is London so of course I wanted to work in the London Market as an Underwriter!

When I entered the job market in the UK I required a Tier 2 Visa and as such my job choices suddenly became limited. Since I was ok financially I decided I would work on my CII course work whilst waiting for the right opportunity. I finished my certificate in the London Market in the first two months of being in the UK, so I knew eventually I would get my visa and not have to worry about anything – so who wouldn’t want me in their organisation?

Unfortunately it took 14 months for me to get a spouse visa and in that time I lost my passion for underwriting so I decided that it was time for a career change.

I was a 40+ years old professional with a child on the way so this was one the scariest life changing decisions I had ever made. I had no problem starting from the bottom and working my way up through an organisation. I had never even considered recruitment – all I heard was bad things about the industry so it wasn’t an option until I got an e-mail from a recruiter asking me if I would consider making a career change.

I read through the e-mail and realised that many of the skills I already had were transferable to the recruiting world. So I began looking for roles with recruitment agencies and lucky for me very early in the process I got hooked up with an amazing rec to rec consultant.

Charlotte Lidster from Wisdom Recruitment is a legend in my eyes, she understood what I wanted and made sure to put me in front of the companies that fit my brief and in no time I found the place I wanted to work.

In the early part of November 2015 I had met with Stewart Taylor from HFG insurance recruitment, and I was very impressed with both him as a person and HFG as a company, it was honestly the only place I wanted to work at that point. HFG is a highly professional, insurance focused recruitment company and a well-respected name in the insurance recruitment field.

HFG were very thorough with their internal hiring process and I met with a number of people including directors and the Managing Director. This reaffirmed my views about the HFG – that this was in no way a fly by night company who only cared about KPIs. This to me was a company that cared about its brand and was not going to entrust it to just anyone – they had to be sure that I or anyone representing HFG would be a good ambassador of the brand they had built.

Finally, I was made an offer in mid-December and readily accepted.  In my first two months with HFG I know I have made the right choice – I have been made to feel as though I am part of a family and I feel I have all the tools at my disposal to be very successful but also realise that hard work will be the basis of the successes that I achieve. I am on the Technical Insurance team and have amazing teammates who are quick to offer help and advice and mentorship whenever needed – as are the rest of my HFG colleagues who are very supportive and always offering advice and help and giving me encouragement. I know that this is not an easy career and that I will have to work hard in order to be successful, but I feel I am in good hands at HFG.

Written by David Jacobson.

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