Sector must work harder to engage talent with a focus on ‘future gazing’ and a more digitised era

As recruitment and retention remain key challenges within the insurance sector, it is important for insurers and brokers to attract talent from outside the industry to fulfil roles that can help meet “risk coverage requirements that are not here today”, reports sister title Insurance Times.

According to Tara Foley, Axa’s chief executive of UK retail, the insurance market is “competing outside of our industry” for top talent in emerging career fields, such as data science, creating a recruitment and retention “challenge”.

In part, this is because those employed in technology or data-centric job roles do not realise how prominent this type of work is within insurance, therefore career opportunities can fly under the radar.

Foley explained: “[A] challenge we’ll be facing into as an industry is recruitment and retention.

“I had seen this in banking as well where previously, you would compete within your industry for core talent that you were looking for. Now, we’re competing outside of our industry, with organisations like Google and Apple, etc – particularly for those data specialists.

“I’ve been struck by how I think insurance, the brand isn’t recognised for how central data management is to the industry. So, when you think of [artificial intelligence], etc, you’re thinking about Google, the big tech companies.

“But actually, in an insurance business, the management of data and actuarial thinking and pricing models - this is all highly technical, data science type activities. It’s core to the business and I think we need to do more to attract the resources with those skill sets into the industry, to make sure they understand that actually, this is really exciting and rewarding to work in if you have those skill sets.”

Opportunities arising from futureproofing

Sara Fardon, Willis Towers Watson Networks’ managing director, agreed. She added that “brokers and insurers alike are expanding the breadth of their [businesses] to futureproof [for] the needs of [the] clients of tomorrow” – this includes the introduction of “other career paths” outside of underwriting and broking.

She said: “Our industry can now offer any array of career opportunities and many could be considered well outside of normal insurance career expectations.

“Brokers and insurers alike are expanding the breadth of their [businesses] to futureproof [for] the needs of [the] clients of tomorrow. As risks’ cover requirements change, so does the need to be able to respond to change - that is an area [brokers] can be particularly proactive in.

“As well as the established career paths, such as broking and underwriting, other career paths we see developing include the creative areas - such as marketing, PR and social media.

“We also see an uplift in analytical career paths and an appetite for ‘future gazing’ - preparing for new industries and risk coverage requirements that are not here today.”

Fardon added, however, that the insurance industry has already taken great strides in terms of being better able to attract talent.

She continued: “Great work has been done by the whole industry, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Biba to ‘professionalise’ our industry to attract talent.

“People entering our industry now see the potential of great career paths that can even take them global and with so many strands to enjoy within our industry, the outdated image of the insurance salesman has long gone.”