African and South Asian talent critical for insurance's future – CEO

Loss adjuster leader warns of 'global demographic shift'

African and South Asian talent critical for insurance's future – CEO

Insurance News


While the insurance industry is grabbling with a talent shortage, Rohit Verma, the CEO of Crawford, believes the answer to this growing concern may be expanding globally where a wealth of potential talent lies, namely in Africa and South Asia.

“The capital that drives the insurance industry to success is mostly based in the United States, Japan and Europe,” Verma said. “However, these areas are seeing birth rates declining and an ageing population, while places like Africa and South Asia have a median age that is much younger.”

During a sit-down interview at RIMS in Atlanta, US, Verma spoke about how the insurance industry can tap into this source of potential talent effectively and why the messaging behind a career needs to be rethought.

“The global demographic shift needs to be talked about more”

Population decline in the more established regions of the insurance industry is opening doors for exposures to grow in areas that are experiencing booming birthrates.

“Places like South Asia and Africa are creating more opportunities for both insurance products and talent, but the supply is not there to meet the demand,” Verma said.

What industries worldwide, especially insurance, are lacking is reacting to and preparing for this demographic shift that is being ignored.

“While climate change is definitely a top concern for insurers, the global demographic shift needs to be talked about more if business plans on thriving for generations to come,” Verma said.

Corporations need to enact more strident efforts to tap into this well of potential now and prepare for whatever future hurdles may come with retiring professionals.

This means providing quality education and training to give these individuals the acumen to thrive in the insurance industry.

“If we need somebody and ready to be educated and be functional in 2038, or in 2040, their education needs to start now. Their curriculum needs to start now,” Verma said.

The CEO warned that if the industry continues to neglect those regions, it won't be able to tap into the knowledge and insight that can be nurtured through proper education.

“That's going to create a whole different social order, because if they're not educated, there are not jobs there, [then] we don't have the people, but we can't really bring them here because they're not educated to be here in the in the way that we need them.”

While corporations may be behind on transitioning outreach programs into Africa and South Asia, recognizing this dynamic is the important first step.

How to create a more appealing image of the insurance profession

Alongside geographic concerns, the insurance industry needs to find a more compelling angle to sell the industry to up-and-coming talent, whether in South Asia, Africa or elsewhere.

“People understand our industry only through the lens of what they see their parents do, which is buy insurance for their homes or cars, or through the lens of what they see what is advertised,” Verma said.

The industry can tap into various vocational focuses since insurance is a bedrock for every profession across the globe.

For Verma, outreach programs that are primarily placed in high education institutions are not as effective since, by the time most people reach college, they have a clearer indication of their plans when they graduate.

Instead, Verma argued that middle school and high school students are less likely to have any concrete future goals set in place, and the industry’s focus should be spent there.

This can be done in different ways.

Textbooks at these grade levels need to include some information about insurance, since it will become an indelible aspect of adult life, whether through professional obligations or personal necessity.

“This may be the hardest to realize,” Verma admitted.

Insurers, brokers or underwriters can also attend career day to act as a “role model” to give visibility to a field that is not always considered or visible to younger people, who are unlikely to have bought an insurance policy.

Lastly, insurance companies need to build out a robust presence on social media.

“It is the most powerful of communicating, especially since the younger generation is not tuning into cable TV to watch ads anymore,” Verma said.

“We have to spend more time at the high school system and be more deliberate about it.”  

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