Blake Oliver MD on why he thinks “people are simply ill-informed”

Blake Oliver MD on why he thinks “people are simply ill-informed” | Insurance Business Australia

Blake Oliver MD on why he thinks “people are simply ill-informed”

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted job markets the world over, and Australia is no exception. To understand the country’s current hiring situation, particularly within the insurance sector, Insurance Business spoke to insurance recruiting specialist Blake Oliver Consulting.

Sharing his observations, Blake Oliver managing director Daniel Marsh (pictured) cited reluctance among a number of in-demand candidates when it comes to moving roles at this time, amid a lack of assurance around onboarding, training, and development.

Also, as expected, some businesses have put their hiring plans on hold indefinitely, which Marsh thinks has the potential of having a knock-on effect on the job market.

A business service member of the Underwriting Agencies Council, Blake Oliver itself has postponed this year’s planned launch of the Blake Oliver Academy, the goal of which is to provide annual scholarships to school leavers in an effort to help hone the next generation of insurance professionals.

As for the industry sentiment, Marsh noted: “From speaking to a number of insurance CEOs throughout the year, there is growing frustration, a number of whom have been unable to pursue market opportunities because of talent restraints.”

However, according to the MD, the majority of these business leaders are planning on taking on more staff in the next 12 months as the coronavirus comes under control. In addition, Marsh pointed to the job market’s strength in terms of higher-level hiring.

“The insurance market has been resilient and the job market has remained strong for senior and experienced insurance professionals throughout the pandemic,” he told Insurance Business. “In fact, we have seen an increase in opportunities for product managers, senior brokers, and specialist underwriters.

“As a business we have seen an increase in key hire appointments but roles for junior staff have slowed, particularly in Melbourne where the lockdown has been more significant.”

Meanwhile Marsh, who himself worked in insurance not only in Australia but also in the UK – his credentials include years spent at Willis Towers Watson, CGU Insurance, and Chubb – believes that in some areas, particularly among university leavers, the sector continues to struggle in changing the way it is viewed externally.

He conceded: “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.”

In Marsh’s view, there is a need for the insurance industry to recognise the growing difficulty it faces when recruiting new talent. He added that the trend will be amplified by the increasing overlap in expertise between insurers, banks, and investment management firms.

For now, Blake Oliver is doing all it can to support clients and candidates alike. For the latter, the firm has created a so-called talent network, which is designed to keep candidates advised of current opportunities, upcoming webinars, and other avenues that will allow them to stay in touch with the market.

As for the company’s outlook post-crisis, Marsh said they simply want to continue doing what they set out to do when Blake Oliver was established, which is to provide an informed and quality service.