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Insurers should ditch hiring rule book, recruiter says

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Insurers must rethink how they build teams or they will struggle to fill roles and create “massive holes” in servicing clients, Kona Recruitment says.

Kona MD James Toth says the most in-demand role at the moment is companies looking for senior account managers to manage large portfolios and to train staff. The salaries of experienced professionals have jumped substantially since the start of covid, he says, after they demanded “30-40-50%” pay increases to move roles.

“Companies started to say yes because they were so desperate,” Mr Toth tells “It’s beyond anything I’ve experienced before. It’s just jumped in the space of two years, their salaries are insane, I have never seen salaries being thrown around like they are right now.”

He says a senior account manager with five years commercial ASX experience who might have been on $120,000 is now earning “$160-180,000-plus" a year.

Part of the problem was poor succession planning by the industry a few years ago which is coming home to roost, and Kona recommends considering hiring less experienced staff and a junior alongside to be mentored, creating a pipeline.

“There is an opportunity to have two people on the (pay) roll rather than one,” Mr Toth said, recommending insurers be more creative, drop “rigid” hiring expectations and "become a lot more self aware”.

“Promote internally and bring in juniors,” he says.

Companies are having to make more compromises around how experienced and qualified candidates must be to move into a senior role, he says, forgoing demands for “someone with ten years' experience to manage a professional indemnity portfolio of $1.5 million”, for example.

“This person isn’t going to be out there in the market looking for a new role, and if they are, the remuneration required would be beyond ridiculous,” Mr Toth said.

“What we've observed within the insurance industry right now is that it's particularly challenging. Candidates going for Senior Account Manager and Divisional Manager positions are usually expected to have about 10 years of industry experience.

"The talent just isn't there right now.”

Insurers could instead recruit a candidate with five years’ experience who “may need significant upskilling but who is ambitious and motivated” and then task the administrative duties of a portfolio to a junior staff member.