Tacking the talent crisis must come from the top.
I have spent the last 19 years in insurance. However, like thousands before me, it wasn't my preferred sector, “I fell into it,” and found myself a part of this complex industry. And there lies the apparent issue; people should be joining the sector with a passion, a drive and a crystal clear idea of where they want their insurance journey to take them.
I now spend the majority of my time recruiting insurance professionals from entry level through to ‘C Suite’, and as a consequence of that I speak with thousands of decision makers on a yearly basis. One thing is becoming increasingly apparent; the insurance industry is experiencing a global talent crisis.
Historically, finding new hires has not been a concern for the insurance industry, however it seems that a combination of broader dynamics and industry specific issues are leading to this talent shortage. Not only this, but a shifting market landscape requires companies to recruit, engage and motivate new and existing talent to remain relevant.
PwC recently conducted global survey which highlighting that nearly 60% of insurance CEO’s believe skill shortages are a threat to growth and nearly 50% believe that it is getting harder to recruit and retain good people in the industry.
To make matters worse, the number of professionals taking advanced, professional examinations continues to decrease. It is possible to conclude one of two things from this state of events, and that is, either companies are not doing enough to invest in their staff or the staff themselves are not interested in being up-skilled and improved.
The industry finds itself at a crossroads. The majority of middle managers, corporate underwriters, adjusters, distribution leaders and producing brokers are above the age of 45 and employers are finding themselves with a lack of incumbent talent in an increasingly shrinking talent pool.
Over the last 12 months more than 30% of CEO’s have been unable to pursue market opportunities because of talent restraints. Despite this, the same survey indicates that the majority of those insurance CEO’s plan to take on more staff in the upcoming 12 months. The question is, how will the industry attract the elite talent?
The Next Generation Game
Insurers and brokers worldwide need to do more by engaging and recruiting young professionals and elite graduates. With the banks returning to financial strength and the upturn in the financial markets, there has never been a greater choice for the best talent entering the job market.
Unfortunately, the insurance industry is still struggling to change the negative way in which is viewed externally. According to the Wall Street Journal, the insurance sector ranks near the very top of the least-desirable industries according to recent graduates. The industry is seen as offering very little in the way of career development and seems to be very much behind the times in regards to technology as well as a seemingly absent offer of an exciting and diverse career path.
It is apparent that people are simply ill-informed of the wide range of opportunities the sector can offer. Degrees in engineering, computer science, marketing and mathematics are absolutely relevant to a number of roles in the sector, from underwriting and risk assessment positions to actuarial roles just to name a few.
The insurance industry needs to recognise the growing difficulty it faces when recruiting new talent. The trend will be amplified by the increasing overlap in expertise between insurers, banks and investment management firms, which essentially translates to greater employment choice for talent.
Whilst the leading brokers and insurers already have superb graduate schemes in place, more needs to be done in order to remain relevant with both traditional competitors and new rivals for their talent such as the aforementioned banks and investment management firms.
In conclusion, leaders in the insurance industry must cultivate innovative talent functions that possess the agility to develop their people across changing economic and market dynamics.
Insurance CEO's are starting to realise that top talent is their main USP, has this realisation happened too late?