For brokers, the rise of cyber and technology, a possible shortage of talent alongside it, and the changing demands of customers are high on the agenda of concerns.
New research released by the Argo Group this week identified a widespread unease with what it called the growing talent gap as the insurance industry struggles to attract a new generation of workers. More than half of brokers surveyed across the UK and US said the role of the underwriter would be the biggest insurance talent gap in the next five years.
Worries over a talent shortage come at a time when the need for cyber expertise in the insurance industry is at an all-time high. A staggering 100% of brokers told the survey that cyberthreats are a medium or high-priority emerging risk in the next 12 months, with virtual technologies and the Internet of Things coming in second and third place on their agenda.
The rise of technology and shortage of talent appear to be somewhat linked: almost a third of brokers attribute the perceived talent shortage to a “general slowness to innovate in the industry.” The results suggest that a lack of technical knowledge is at the heart of the skills gap, as there was an overall consensus that there is no shortage of talent in sales, marketing, legal and administrative roles.
Amid the wider changes to the technological landscape, customers are changing too.
Yvonne McKnight, operations and marketing director & co-owner of Glasgow-based Affinity Brokers, told Insurance Business that the biggest challenge that her business faces today is evolving to meet client needs and expectations.
“We need to ensure we are at the forefront of technology and providing innovative solutions for our clients,” McKnight said.
“Insurance, by nature, is a very traditional product – and there are certain elements we should keep that way – however, that’s not to say there aren’t ways of providing slicker service, such as faster claims reporting and settlement via apps, for example,” she went on to say.
Today’s client is “a lot more savvy” than a decade ago, according to McKnight. That’s no bad thing, but it does mean that they are demanding more from their brokers.
“They no longer stand for poor service or advice from their broker. There is also an expectation from clients that the broker will provide a ‘full 360’ service when it comes to managing their insurance portfolio. For example, where we highlight the importance of up-to-date buildings valuations for reinstatement purposes, the client also expects that we are able to provide the buildings valuation for them,” the director explained.
That can be an excellent opportunity for brokers to demonstrate the areas in which they can add value, according to McKnight, who highlighted Affinity’s recent work with clients around data protection regulations.
“Prior to the implementation of GDPR, we ran a number of workshops with our clients at the beginning of the year explaining what it is, how it will affect them, and what they need to consider to ensure they are compliant,” she said. “Most of our clients didn’t know where else to obtain this information from.
Ultimately, McKnight said, today’s insurance client wants their broker to offer a full suite of services, and to be a ‘one stop shop’.