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Should employers recruit for talent or potential in the insurance sector?

by Heat Recruitment

Today, the financial services and insurance sectors contributed a whopping combined £132bn in GVA (Gross Value Added) to the UK’s economy – 6.9% of the total. Amidst this huge success, however, we also see a particularly challenging skills shortage.  According to recent research, only 16% of insurers think there will be enough graduates to fill open positions by 2025. A further 94% of survey respondents believe insurance and risk management professionals will need to develop new skills to meet future challenges in the profession, and only 32% believe that professionals are prepared to make these changes.

So what needs to change?

One of the biggest issues in insurance today is that of expectation versus what is delivered – particularly around the hiring of Account Executives. Many firms bring in an AE, and from day one, expect results in the form of instant new business. What they fail to remember is that, with any job, there is a bedding in period. In addition, and most importantly, any AE will undoubtedly be operating under a restrictive covenant – legally obligating them to not approach their old clients for a set period of time.

With organisations using a hire and fire policy, there is a distinct lack of long-term thinking – they’re looking for someone to fix a process, without giving the time or resources to actually make that happen. No issue is going to be fixed by hiring one person – it has to be transformational across the entire business. Not getting this right, beyond the short-term implication, can also hugely damage the branding of specific insurers – hampering their ability to recruit top talent.

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons behind Account Executives bedding in to their current roles… not just the golden handcuffs of the commission culture, but a knowledge that said restrictive covenant may hamper their earning potential for the next year at minimum.

This is one of the reasons recruiters are so vital to the hiring process in insurance – if Account Executives are good at their jobs, they’re particularly difficult to move. The headhunting and pinpointing of the right people in the market is something based on networks and relationships. In such a niche industry, the best people aren’t looking to move.

So, is there a solution to this industry-wide issue?

What we need to see, at least in terms of hiring policies, is more long-term thinking. The first step of which is the implementation of a three-year plan for incoming Account Executives – a three-year buffer to assess the long-term potential of a specialist within an organisation.  Like anything the timing will never be right to hire, as when you need them they are not there and then like buses, three will come along at the same time, so you need to be flexible and ready to hire when quality presents itself.

The second step is the development of Account Executives internally – bringing Account Handlers to a place where they can take on the additional responsibility required of them.

What is required for both of these tactics is foresight and patience; building an effective team isn’t something that happens overnight. In a risk-averse industry such as insurance, employers have two major options in terms of attracting candidates – developing an attractive culture and career map for Account Executives that are being brought on… or simply paying a premium for incoming talent.

If you’re seeking high performing insurance staff to drive your team forward in the year ahead, learn more about our specialist insurance recruitment practice