The Inaugural Insurance Careers Month, a grassroots movement aimed at attracting new blood to the industry, took place in February. But although skills are seen as a soft discussion, behind the initiative lurk hard facts.
The insurance industry globally currently employs around 2.5 million workers, and a further 400,000 new job vacancies will be added by 2020. But the number of insurance professionals aged 55 and older has increased 74% in the past 10 years, and over the next three years a quarter of the industry will have reached retirement age.
In short, the insurance industry is facing a looming talent crisis, prompting industry icons Brian Duperreault, Inga Beale and Dan Glaser to appeal to the Millennial generation for fresh skills. But with less than 5% of Millennials expressing an interest in working in our industry and current insurance and risk management graduates meeting only 10-15% of the industry’s need for new talent, these captains of industry have their work cut out for them.
Brian Duperreault, CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group, who joined the sector more than 40 years ago as an actuarial trainee, is the first to admit a collective responsibility.
“We haven’t done a good job in letting today’s generation know what a great career they can have in insurance. Today’s men and women don’t give insurance much thought,” he says. For sure, part of the problem is down to image perception. Insurance is considered an ‘old’ industry and the ‘pale, male and stale’ quip is often applied to it. Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s, has become something of an antidote to this malady, although even she sometimes struggles to move with the times.
“During my 30-year career in the insurance industry I’ve seen the world transform at an unprecedented pace,” the Lloyd’s chief says, adding that digital natives are living in a very di erent world to what the ageing insurance industry is used to. “They’re multi-screening and adapting to new technologies that are quite foreign to someone like me,” she says.
Mike McGavick, CEO of XL Catlin, argues that this rapid rate of change forces the industry to constantly evolve. “Our industry reflects everything that’s changing in society and as these new tools allow us to perform our work in new ways, it makes this a highly creative industry,” he says.
McGavick suggests that technology should be embraced rather than feared, because the insurance sector will retain a critical dependency on human capital that isn’t going to be automated. “The reality is that about half of today’s current insurance workforce will retire by 2030 and they’re not going to be replaced by technology, but they might be replaced by you [people]. There are 400,000 jobs in the sector that will need to be filled just in the next handful of years,” he says.
This is where the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is looking to make some headway, having signed a partnership agreement with the Department for Work and Pen
sions in 2013, highlighting opportunities in our sector and promoting it as a career choice.
The creation of a general insurance apprentice standard, where apprentices can earn while they learn, was designed to help the industry achieve its target in the Government’s Insurance Growth Action Plan: to double the number of apprentices in insurance by 2018.
BIBA is working with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII
), the ABI and Aon
to attract young people to insurance broking. For Sian Fisher, newly instated CEO of the CII
, education is the greatest driver of social mobility. “It’s a fact that even today lots of people are not from academic backgrounds, and they have trouble at school, and they need a second chance to do professional vocational qualifications to make the best of their full potential,” she said, adding: “The purpose of the Institute is to secure and justify the faith of the public in insurance.”
Yet in the face of a skills shortage, those in a favourable position can reap the rewards, with the Central London and Lloyd’s markets seeing consistently healthy uplifts across most salary bands. According to David Carr, managing director at specialist recruiter IDEX Consulting, there is a talent war ongoing and new business candidates are always in high demand – even more so if they are in a niche product area.
“The focus has been on new business and, with the primary markets looking soft across most lines of business, employers have also looked to recruit those who can on-board profitable niche business,” he said.