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Which risk management specialization track should I choose? There’s employee benefits, healthcare risk management, and property liability/ corporate risk management.

I’m currently a student enrolled in college and I’m looking to switch my major to risk management, and I’m not really sure which track I should do. I’m also looking into an accounting minor, but I’m not entirely sure how much that will help me. #college-major #colleges #risk #accounting


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Adrienne’s Answer

Hello Abigail,

I agree that Risk Management is a rewarding field and offers a diverse range of positions/opportunities. The previous responder provided a great resource.

In terms of my personal experience, I obtained degrees in Accounting & Financial Services and worked for the largest insurance company in North America for 31 years. My educational background combined with property/casualty work and leadership experience provides a competitive advantage for a wide range of opportunities in a variety of industries.

So, taking a long-term view (considering your interests as well as positions that will likely be in high demand) to planning your career is a wise approach.

Thank you for your question and best of luck!

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Emily’s Answer

Hi Abigail,

Risk management is a great field with a lot of diverse opportunities. Picking out which one is right for you should ultimately be in what field interests you the most. I would recommend researching jobs under each career path and see if any grab your attention. I looked into this field, and thought about becoming an underwriter for a while. When I looked into this, I then saw a lot of other opportunities that fell under the same umbrella which also peaked my interest. I now work in pension administration, which falls into the employee benefits field you listed above, however my work now doesn't fall completely in the risk management field. I am looking to become an actuary soon, which I would also recommend looking into if you're also interested in math (which it sounds like you are since you're considering minoring in accounting).

Here's some broad information about risk management that gives a list of companies in the field:
https://www.insuremypath.org/careers-in-insurance/insurance-career-roles/risk-management-careers

Here's some information from Temple about what your undergrad/post-grad education/career may look like (of course it may differ a bit depending on your school):
https://bulletin.temple.edu/undergraduate/fox-business-management/risk-management-insurance/#trackstext

Hope this helps! Good Luck!

Best,
Emily

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Ramona’s Answer

Great question, Abigail. Along with the great advice already provided, I would recommend you speaking to your college's department heads that lead the risk management areas. They can provide some great insight into their learning approach, what the curriculum is focused on, and what roles they are preparing you for. With this additional information, you can determine what interests you most. They may be able to provide some contacts that graduated through their program who can share their experiences with you. Risk Management and the understanding of its concepts is a great building block for any career. Good luck on your selection.

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Craig’s Answer

Hi Abigail,

I would look up to those who are ahead of you in school and browse graduates' profiles to get a sense of what's sought after in the industry. I think it would be great to reach out to those students/graduates via social media and have a friendly, honest chat. Another thing that you could look into is to get a general understanding of all possible paths in risk management; you could probably do this with your education and through talks with your professors, especially those that work a day job in the risk management sphere.

An accounting background will always be useful even if you don't work in an accounting position; in a business setting, you will always be better off with a fundamental understanding on how business transactions are recognized and recorded.

Enjoy the journey!

Craig recommends the following next steps:

Educate yourself by learning on your own and learning from others.

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Savita’s Answer

Hello,

Risk Management is indeed a vast area and there are many specializations that you could look into. Energy Risk Management is an interesting area and one in which I have worked for 25 years. This field focuses on managing price, credit, operational or enterprise risk. Currently I am the Global Head for Commodity Risk Management Solutions for Shell Trading & Supply and lead a team that looks for digital solutions to support those who have oversight of Energy Trading Risk. This is a very specialized area but likely to become very important as the whole world moves toward Energy transformation from fossil fuels to New forms of energy. Another area of Risk Management that has recently been very much in demand and highlighted due to COVID 19 is supply chain risk.

Savita recommends the following next steps:

Explore the GARP - Global Association for Risk Professionals website.

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Hongyun (Heley)’s Answer

Give different track a try, see if you can talk to your peers with their experience, any one in the industry. Would not generally recommend making decisions before actually trying out or fully understanding.

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Michael’s Answer

Hi Abigail - great question and in short, there's no great answer other than what you think best suits your personality, strengths and interests. I will give you the scoop on my experience in the Risk Management/Insurance field. I graduated with a major in Political Science and minor in English, thinking I would go to law school, but decided it wasn't for me. When entering the job market, there were multiple opportunities in the Risk Management field and to be honest, I took a couple of the interviews because Risk Management sounded interesting (didn't really know much about it) and because I needed a job. That was in 2005 and while I didn't foresee a career in insurance/risk management, it's been a very lucrative and stable job for me the past 15 years. That first job I took was on the commercial broker side in Chicago. I started off as an account assistant and moved my way up to a Senior Account Manager and then finally a Commercial Producer (main sales position within a brokerage) on the Commercial Property/Casualty Side. While it had it's benefits, the broker/agency side is very fast paced and can be more tumultuous (you live and die by how many accounts you write and the commission you earn). About six years ago, I moved over to the Commercial Carrier side as an underwriter for a high-severity workers compensation company (We write insurance for large companies in industries that tend to have severe injuries like construction, transportation , etc.). The carrier side (IMHO) is much more stable and I work with the brokers to sell our coverage to the customer. The broker side (if you are in sales) requires a lot of extracurricular work in terms of networking, dinners, association meetings, etc. in addition to there being a large amount of rejection through constant cold calling and again, it's volatile because it's mostly based on commission. There are other positions on the agency side (like account managers) that are less volatile and salary based, but the ceiling is lower in terms of salary. The larger brokers also have a full range of claims advocates and loss control personnel, which is something you could steer towards as well, if that interests you. There's also personal line insurance, Personal Life/Health benefits and Employee Benefits On the carrier side, the three main niches you can pursue are Underwriting, Claims & Loss Control...in addition to accounting/finance. In summary, I enjoy working on the carrier side in an underwriting position, because I get to work with brokers to sell our product. It's not as tumultuous as the broker side, because brokers need our product and it's fun to investigate/underwrite each prospect we write. We work in collaboration with our claims and loss control teammates and while it's a full time job, is more stable without the extracurricular requirements on the broker side (there's still some though). Also, with the pandemic, it's been a stable position and we are able to work from home, which has been great.

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