To get a clearer picture of the current lie of the land within the Insurance sector, we asked our consultants to rank the factors that have had the greatest impact on hiring within their industry, and to share their personal insights on the current hiring climate within the sector, their experiences operating within it over the first quarter and their predictions for the months that lie ahead.
Introduction, authored by Associate Director Dave Dewey
Within the first quarter of 2023, hiring efforts within the Insurance industry continue to be hindered by the prevalence of counteroffers: as my colleagues have noted below, the skills shortage in our industry means that firms are keener than ever before to retain their experienced staff. As a result, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction from an employer to offer their employee a 20% to 60% increase on their base salary to retain them when they hand their notice in because they know how difficult it is going to be to replace them. This has now even started to impact candidates’ expectations when looking for a new role: because their colleagues have secured a counteroffer, they believe that they are underpaid themselves, so they are now asking for a lot more with their next move. All of this is driving salaries up considerably, and there appears to be a disconnect between what individuals looking to make a move expect from a new role, and what our clients are willing to pay.
But, with all of this being said, there are positives on the horizon: our consultants have reported that roles are still widely available within Insurance and hiring activity is still strong in spite of these setbacks. Equally, although the economic instability we have experienced in the latter part of 2022 and the beginning months of this year has impacted the confidence of both those looking to hire and those wanting to make a career change, the outlook generally seems to be improving. I predict that this will result in a restoration of trust in the hiring market, and we will hopefully begin to see more movement as more and more individuals look to advance their careers and salaries in the remainder of the year.
Dave Dewey, Associate Director for Insurance
“There is undeniably a massive skills shortage in the insurance arena…”
Clients are struggling to turn candidates around quickly enough, which is leading to multiple offers for each candidate to consider and therefore heightened competition. Firms that are looking to secure talent need to streamline their interview process.
Equally, I have found that candidates have been quite sceptical about moving due to rising concerns over a possible recession and rising living costs; this hesitancy seems to be continuing to impact the market, although as the outlook improves, we should start to see increasing confidence. Another impact on the hiring market to contend with is some other unscrupulous agencies failing to follow correct processes and failing to tell candidates where their applications are being sent, and this is leading to duplications and general confusion.
Marion Errington, Managing Consultant (Broking, South-East)
“In my region and market, I have found that the industry remains secure, and roles are still available…”
While some clients have a preference for more in-office work as opposed to the remote or hybrid models, it is undeniably the clients that are offering more flexibility that will be in a better position for hiring. Salaries remain highly inflated, with huge counteroffers being made to retain staff due to a lack of talent in the market. But, whilst larger firms are happy to pay, smaller brokers are missing out and struggling to compete. At some point, the market will have to change, and salaries will either plateau or revert to previous levels, but it’s hard to say what will cause the change, or when it will happen.
Ben Cass, Principal Consultant (Broking, London Market)
“There has been a rise in the number of candidates who want to join a sustainable business…”
“It is worth noting that there has been a rise in the number of candidates who want to join a sustainable business, and some areas of insurance have been impacted by this, such as energy and oil and gas. Firms should be looking at their EVP to see how they can make themselves more attractive to candidates.”
Aaran Hodges, Executive Consultant (Underwriting, London & South East)
“The biggest challenge in Q1 has been the prevalence of recruitment freezes within larger companies…”
Hopefully, we will see a change when new budgets are released. Equally, I think a lot of candidates holding out for pay reviews and bonuses, which has made the market somewhat quieter in Q1.
Although the skills shortage is a widespread issue, I have spoken with some clients who are willing to think outside the box by utilising transferable skills, and who are now considering candidates from other insurance backgrounds and training them. If this is a possibility for businesses, it can provide an ideal route to go down whilst equally looking ahead to the future of skills within the industry. Understandably this is not always possible and certainly not in all areas; but, where possible, it is positive to see this happening.