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‘Tell a better story’: talent drought challenges insurers

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Insurance leaders should update job descriptions to attract more tech-savvy workers and also consider how their corporate missions relate to younger generations looking for a sense of purpose from work.

That’s the finding of a new EY report which warns that as insurers become more digital in their operations they will need technical talent to design and support specific disruptive technologies like AI and blockchain.

Analytics and experience design are other high-priority skillsets.

But insurers have not been able to find the right homegrown talent fast enough to keep up, creating an unprecedented challenge in the global insurance industry, EY says.

“To attract top talent, insurers need to tell a better story and clearly articulate the industry’s societal purpose and value,” the consulting giant says, warning that even when insurers do find the right people they may lose them quickly “if the culture feels inflexible”.

EY says this “talent war” will intensify as more foreign insurers enter the market as deregulation continues. Yet hiring expatriate talent in key areas such as data science will be prohibitively expensive due to less competitive salaries, especially when compared with technology companies.

The focus will continue to be on training and upskilling existing staff, EY says, noting that as more administrative tasks are automated the remaining talent will need to be focused on higher-value analytical work.

It says the way in which traditional insurers position their brands is important to attract younger workers unsure of a career in the industry.

Some insurers are exploring new greenfield brands, while others are forming partnerships with established tech firms to access the necessary skills.

“The ability of the largest Chinese insurer, Ping An Insurance, to rebrand itself as a technology firm has helped it attract top talent in these areas, not only from the insurance industry but also from other tech firms,” EY says.

It will be difficult for traditional firms to evolve their “brand perceptions”, yet the pressure to retool or even transform the workforce is critical for firms actively seeking to diversify beyond “plain vanilla” products and launch new business models.

“Tomorrow’s market leaders will be technology-enabled, data-driven and operationally efficient – but also people-powered and purpose-led, with strong cultures that are adaptive, engaged and capable of rapid change.”