“The whole process absolutely stinks,” Lee-Martin Seymour, CEO and co-founder of technology-based recruitment service Xref, told Insurance Business. “It’s fraught with fraud, lies, discrimination and bias.”
Seymour was referring to what he sees as the archaic, loop-holed system of recruitment and referencing in the insurance and wider financial services sphere.
“The archaic ways in which employers are collecting feedback on candidates – we’ve got to say time’s up,” he said.
Xref is a recruitment firm with a specific focus on bringing the referencing process into technology and innovation, to the betterment of the industry - a process that has been slow for the sector to pick up on.
“We’re celebrating our tenth year of Xref, but it has taken us that amount of time to educate the industry that there is a better way,” explained Seymour. “The traditional way of reference collection is broken – it’s time to reinvent it.”
But why is Xref placing such emphasis and importance on references? Seymour explained to Insurance Business that people like to know that they can trust their pilots, policemen, nurses and carers – why then do we not demand that we place similar trust in our insurance and financial services personnel? If there is an archaic recruitment and referencing system, will trust become misplaced?
After the Royal Commission, Seymour said, it became clear that there needs to be a ‘promise of trust’ in people being hired to positions within insurance and the wider financial services.
“Why aren’t we doing more to ensure that we can trust our financial advisors, insurers and brokers?” Seymour asked. “They have created the important, relevant policies on our life, salary, property and home, children and pets – we have to be able to completely trust that person behind the policy.”
One existing problem with the referencing system relates to speed, he suggested. With a small talent pool of fresh recruits within the insurance industry, insurers, in some cases, are not properly checking references due to the potential that the individual may decide to take a competitor’s offer. Similarly, the age-old practice of lying on a CV, getting a friend to write a reference – or even writing one yourself – is still prevalent and not being regulated and stopped.
So what does Xref put forward as the answer to fixing these recruitment loopholes and ensuring trust in the process and personnel? It highlights its referencing software that automates the process, saving hiring teams time and providing a faster experience. Candidates and employers can send reference requests at a touch of a button, can track progress and expect a ‘truth-checked’ reference back in a matter of hours.
Seymour also explained the great lengths to which Xref goes to ensure that references are legit and truthful.
“Using analytics and data tools, we match their digital footprint to their reference to check for irregularities,” explained Seymour. If a reference is submitted from the same IP address as the candidate, or from the same geographical location, Xref flags it as ‘unusual activity’ and investigates it.
“When you have people dealing with policies and people’s lives – someone who lied on their reference or forged it should not be working there,” he said.