Finding purple unicorns amid insurance talent shortage

Finding purple unicorns amid insurance talent shortage | Insurance Business

Finding purple unicorns amid insurance talent shortage

As baby boomers approach retirement age, insurance firms are under considerable pressure to replenish their workforces, attract fresh talent and replace long-tenured and highly-experienced executives. However, talent acquisition is immensely challenging when unemployment is low and insurance firms are competing against potentially more attractive industries.

These recruitment challenges are amplified for smaller organizations that might not have the time or resources to network effectively and attract their desired talent. That’s where executive search and recruitment firms like The Carlisle Group (TCG) come into play. TCG’s insurance division works with insurance organizations’ human resources (HR) departments to assist with executive search, compensation analysis, succession planning, organizational design and other recruitment challenges.

“Think of us as an extension of our clients’ HR departments. Lots of our clients are small to medium-sized firms with between $50 million and $900 million in premium. When they lose an executive, they don’t necessarily have a strong succession plan in place because they’re either too small or they don’t have an HR department that’s constantly out there recruiting. They turn to us because that’s what we do every day,” said Maury Hennessy, senior search consultant at TCG.

“Successful recruitment requires constant networking. Most of the candidates we place with our clients are not necessarily ‘active candidates’ – meaning, they’re not actively job searching and responding to advertisements. Rather, we go after passive candidates - the type of people who are busy doing their jobs right now but might be interested in a new role or promotion if the right opportunity comes their way.”

There are job positions within property and casualty insurance that are in high demand. As the industry adapts to today’s data-driven world, insurers are looking to fill more and more analytical positions. Demand for actuaries is so high that Hennessy refers to them as “the purple unicorns” of insurance. Meanwhile, in the agency world, there’s always a market for a strong producer or account manager.

“Talented individuals in analytical positions like IT, data science, underwriting and actuarial can pretty much run their own show if they’re actively keeping their job options open. Those disciplines are in extremely high demand,” commented Marc Gyimesi, senior search consultant at TCG. “To be an actuary, you need to be highly intelligent, love math and be able to unpick and articulate data. Insurance companies are literally fighting for pennies on the dollar and data is how they make their money. They’re constantly looking at how they can better extract data and they need talented individuals in place who can articulate that data to others who don’t have an actuarial background.”

The problem is, the insurance industry has done “a very poor job at promoting itself” in the past decade, according to Gyimesi. Why should a talented data analyst take a position at an insurance firm over an exciting technology start-up?

Gyimesi told Insurance Business: “This is where companies need to be creative in their recruitment strategies. They need to think about offering things like sign-on bonuses or retention bonuses. We’re in a very unique economic climate where a lack of talent and succession planning challenges are forcing organizations to be more aggressive and imaginative in how they approach recruitment. TCG is uniquely placed to help clients navigate these recruitment challenges.”