Insurance Academy

I’m working on my CPCU. Why now?

By Patrick Wraight | January 30, 2019

If you could get a glimpse of my desk, you would think it’s a mess. At least my wife does.

It isn’t really. It’s more of marginally organized chaos. I really can find what I want on my desk anytime I want to. Honest. For real.

Anyway, if you saw my desk, most of what you would find are the books in my future reading list (and the stacks keep growing); the content that I’m studying to teach (and those stacks don’t shrink, either); and notes about stuff that I’m working on.

All that to remind you that learning is a passion of mine and that’s why last year, after being in the insurance world for almost 15 years, I started working on my CPCU. Why would I put myself through that? I mean, I’m already in a dream job as an insurance educator. I get opportunities to speak to the Academy audience and to other insurance professionals. I can teach whatever I want and when there’s a topic that I can’t teach, I have friends that can do it for me.

So the question remains why on earth would I start the CPCU trek now? It’s not about the letters that I can put after my name (I already have more letters after my name than in my name). It’s not about getting the books (although they are great reference books to keep on my shelf). It’s not even about the respect that comes with it (although, I have always looked up to folks that can complete the CPCU because it’s hard).

Enough of the why nots. Why on earth am I doing it?

I like continual learning.

You mean that’s it? Yeah. That’s it. I just like learning. I like to keep stretching my mind. I like to study. Yes, I have a life, but I’ve discovered that there are a pile of things that I can fill my time with and I decided a long time ago that part of that should include continued learning.

It all started in my Army days. In those days, the promotion process was fairly simple, not easy (big difference). When my chain of command (my boss and his boss) thought I was ready and worthy of promotion from Specialist to Sergeant (or from lower enlisted into the Non-Commissioned Officer ranks), they recommended me to stand before the promotion board.

A promotion board is like a high-stress interview. They critiqued everything from how I marched into the room to the details of how my uniform looked to how I handled the questions that they asked me. They asked different questions about military history, etiquette, heraldry, and a stack of other general military knowledge. Once I passed the board, I would be put on the list to go to Primary Leadership Development School.

As a side note, one of the elements of Army leadership training is how to train those in your care. That’s where my passion to teach started.

When I finished school, I waited until I had enough points on my promotion score card to be promoted. The easiest way to build up points fast was to be constantly learning. Every Army and Air Force correspondence course I took added points. In those years, I spent a lot of time studying these courses, learning new skills and learning more about my specific job.

Ever since those days, I’ve always been involved in learning. When I got out of the Army, I went to college. When I got out of college, I was working two gigs and one of those was in insurance so I started learning all I could about insurance.

I don’t know it all, and probably can’t.

The more that I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know as much as I thought I did; nor do I know as much as I want to know. Risks change. Policies change. Technology continues to create new and easier ways to evaluate and price risk. I keep studying. There’s more to study and more to learn today.

I like using designations to continue learning because they are created with a specific curriculum. Each curriculum has its own learning objectives and focus. That helps me to gain additional mastery of specific topics and it allows me to be systematically be exposed to new topics. The organized way these topics are presented speaks to me. Every objective builds upon the one before.

The CPCU curriculum is well rounded enough that it allows me to take small steps and small bites at a time so that I can learn most of it. Yeah, there are topics that I don’t do well with and honestly, I’m ok with that, too. I love to study coverage forms and I love to study the how and why of underwriting. Those are really interesting to me. I really don’t like the financial part. I understand the basics of financial accounting and I can tell you some reasons why insurance companies use different accounting methods. That doesn’t mean that I’m an expert or that I want to know much more about it.

I want to be an example.

The way I figure it, I’m not everyone’s favorite writer, teacher, etc. and that’s ok. On the other hand, there are some people who are paying attention to my journey and maybe it’s helping them on theirs. That’s why I want to keep growing in my journey because as soon as I let up, it gives someone else permission to let up.

Whether you’re the type that’s competitive and you look at our designations as a game that you can win, or you’re just taking the same cue that I am and you just like it, keep going. If it’s a race you want, let’s get after it. I’m at five designations, with a total of 16 letters. CPCU will give me six and 20. Oh yeah, you with more than me, I know you’re reading and I’m coming up on you. Those with less, I see you, too. See if you can keep up.

If it’s just the learning that you want, let’s learn together. I’m studying CPCU 530 right now so if you have suggestions or questions, let me know. I’ll take your suggestions and questions will make me push to find an answer. If you’re thinking about different designations to go after, let me know that, too. I’ll tell you what I’ve done and why.

It’s all about the learning. In the end, we need experts in our field. We need people who can explain all the minutia of insurance policies because there’ll always be people who need us to help them with it. Am I an expert? That’s up to you to decide. Let me turn the question around on you.

Why aren’t you an expert?

About Patrick Wraight

Patrick Wraight, CIC, CRM, AU, is director of Insurance Journal's Academy of Insurance. He can be reached at

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