Editor’s Note: In the Dec. 28 edition of Canadian Underwriter‘s E-newsletter, the outdated 2022 Executive Outlook piece written by Bernard McNulty appeared in error. This version is the correct, 2023 Executive Outlook piece by Bernard McNulty. CU apologizes for making the error.
Bernard McNulty, chief agent, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Canada
Increasing scarcity of top talent is the most important issue facing our industry. Exacerbated by COVID-19, our industry has seen an unprecedented number of planned and unplanned retirements, career changes out of insurance, and people choosing to scale back to part-time. Fewer talented people are choosing to challenge or stretch themselves into highly technical or leadership roles, and fewer newcomers are joining our industry from colleges, universities and other post-secondary vocations.
One potential solution is career fairs. For example, Toronto’s highly successful Blaxpo is designed to highlight Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) talent. Most of us enjoy great careers in insurance, but selling our industry as progressive, innovative, rewarding and fun to the next generation is extremely challenging. Participation in this expo helped with our intentional mission to increase diversity in our industry; I encourage other insurers to do the same.
Like our peers in the complex commercial space, we rely on technical underwriters, engineers and claims staff to handle risks and claims effectively. The work requires tackling complex construction projects valued at $500 million, for example, or a schedule of power generation plants, or a global mining account. Claims adjusters must handle files valued at more than $100 million. We consistently need top talent in the field and at the negotiating table.
Our industry must acknowledge how serious the situation is, and take meaningful and thoughtful action to address it. Simply hiring talent from our peers and driving up expenses is not a sustainable solution. We need to create entry-level roles that are, frankly, irresistible. That may include rapid inter-department rotations, international rotations and early exposure to our most complex risks.
One solution we’ve applied is to encourage the great talent within our large operations teams in India and Romania to take on new roles globally. We need to train and upskill internally at an accelerated pace, and we need to source talent in the industries we serve. We must retain and protect what we have by embracing even greater flexibility for part-time, contract and fractional employees.
We must be mindful that talent is scarce in numerous sectors. Our industry, in Canada and globally, is competing for people like never before, and we need to be creative, innovative and flexible to effectively address the talent challenge.