Foreseeing the future may be the job of crystal balls and tarot card readers, but experts have come up with calculated predictions about what the insurance industry will look like in the decades to come, based on developments happening right now.
Counted among them is the push for gender balance and a more diverse workforce by companies and advocates in the space.
“When you look at race, you realize that the insurance industry is mostly white people. So there’s not a lot of diversity there,” said Kelly MacDonald, senior vice president and team leader at Aon Risk Solutions, who is speaking at the inaugural Women in Insurance event. “We need to make sure as an industry that we’re properly recruiting, looking at people from all walks of life. All those people should feel like this a great career full of opportunities, because it is. We need to make sure that insurance feels like an industry in which their input is valued and their expertise has a place.”
Retaining successful and ambitious women in insurance is one of the ways that the industry can become more inclusive. Mentorships can help keep female professionals on track to become leaders in their companies.
“We are doing a better job than we used to at identifying high-potential individuals and making sure they stay engaged – but it is not a one-time thing,” said MacDonald. “It really needs to be part of an organization’s corporate culture to ensure that women are supported and there is a network for them. One of the biggest struggles I had – which I’m now trying to change – is lack of mentors. When I started out in the business, most of the senior folks in the industry were white men. So when I was trying to climb up in my career I was thinking, where am I going to find these mentors?”
Insurers have stepped up to the plate in terms of working towards goals and projects that engage women, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, explained the senior VP.
“If we look at senior leadership in lots of large insurance companies and large brokerages, it’s still largely men,” she said. “I’d say that brokerages have done a better job with gender diversity, and some of the smaller boutique firms have been good at supporting women. There are some phenomenal women leading small boutique firms that are achieving great things. But, I still think there’s a lot of work to be done to level up female executives. We’re still lagging behind and not seeing that 50/50 number.”
MacDonald added that most organizations with a diverse board have better results, a finding that’s been backed up by experts in the space.
But it’s not just the workforce that’s changing in insurance. Telematics, artificial intelligence, and crowdsurance are only some of the innovations that have made waves. Technological change is already here and its impact will grow in the next 30 years, according to MacDonald.
“I think the industry will be absolutely, radically different. We’re on the cusp of going through our version of the industrial revolution with what we’re seeing – disruption, AI, machine learning and so on,” she said.
“A lot of the jobs that exist today won’t exist tomorrow – underwriting and claims settlement are going to be replaced with computers, very slick algorithms that will be able to manage the tasks that we have had people doing. So, the jobs that make up the industry are going to be so very different. There’ll still be a need for people with specialized skills, but we’re going to see a very different and multi-generational workforce. It’s not even going to look remotely similar to what it looks like today.”
Kelly MacDonald will be speaking on a panel about the future for women leaders in insurance at the Women in Insurance event being held on May 15, 2018. Click here for more details and to register.