General Insurance Article - Actuarial sector needs to adopt talent management strategies

Reed’s Insurance’s latest Salary and Market Insight Report provides evidence that senior management in the insurance and actuarial sectors are concerned about skills shortages, as well as a need to retain, nurture and attract talent if they are to meet the challenges of the future. Reed’s Martin Delahoyde highlights some of the key findings of the in-depth study and discusses the importance of talent management in an ever-changing marketplace.

 The Reed Insurance Salary and Market Insight Report – which aims to take the pulse of the employment market by canvassing 1,500 employers and employees across a variety of sectors and roles – also draws attention to areas of ongoing concern for senior management in the insurance and actuarial industries. The primary worries appear to centre around talent loss and the fact that 37% of businesses in the industry admit they currently have skills gaps in their organisation and for 41% this is having a negative effect on their organisation

 The market
 The recruitment market in the UK continued to move in a positive direction in 2011 and 2012, with some growth reported, albeit in small incremental steps. The trend is generally upwards and distinct improvements are being experienced across most business sectors.

 Potential growth areas for the insurance and actuarial sectors are likely to be seen in the replacement of business-critical roles rather than the creation of new roles.

 Skills and talent
 Over 56% of senior managers questioned indicated that they were worried about losing talented individuals, and such concerns are reinforced when added to the 37% of senior managers in the insurance field who also feel that they currently have skills gaps within their organisation. Indeed, over 41% expressed fears that skills gaps were having a negative impact.

 To both recognise and then attempt to offset the implications of losing talented employees and filling existing skills gaps, 43% of those questioned stated that their business is proactively implementing training and development programmes to ensure skills improvements, individual development and ultimately job and career satisfaction. Other methods deployed to maintain or grow talent levels include internal promotions (28%), recruitment initiatives (24%) and incentive and benefit strategies (16%). However, a significant number – 38% - also admitted their business is not currently deploying any methods to maintain or even grow talent levels. For such companies, the lack of an ongoing talent management and skills strategy could well leave them exposed.

 People strategies
 Employers in the actuarial market are becoming more selective, with two or three rounds of interviews often taking place, even for interim contractors. However, there is a lack of available talent in the insurance field as candidates are more likely to stay in their existing post if they are not 100% sure of the job change. This derives from people knowing their own value and the re-emergence of the ‘counter-offer culture’.

 Companies need to remain focussed on the requirement to get involved in courtship strategies to attract certain candidates. Such candidates have the ability to bring business with them or win new business quickly. They are able to move freely and they know their worth. Businesses should be engaged in proactively ‘selling’ their organisations to such individuals and make the interview process a positive one. Alongside this, firms are now actively considering ways of retaining staff by addressing the reasons why they may seek a move in the first place. Organisations are realising the costs of losing and replacing talent, thereby making its retention a key business priority.

 A future approach?
 Employers should focus on attracting and retaining the kind of staff that can actively help to drive their business forward. Although there are concerns about skills gaps, when recruiting they should strongly consider the mindset of potential employees instead of focusing purely on their skill set. Global research from ‘Put Your Mindset to Work’, a book by Chairman of Reed James Reed and Dr. Paul G Stoltz, shows that 97% of employers prefer the right mindset over skill set in the people they recruit, promote, keep and value, with top employers saying that one person with the winning mindset is worth seven without.

 Employers in the insurance sector should continually monitor employee engagement to best bridge any emerging gap between employer and employee sentiment. Those able to do this will be best placed to retain the outstanding talent within their organisations and even attract those from other businesses, helping them keep a crucial competitive advantage.

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