Ben Bolton from Insurindex reflects on a new employment survey which reveals the obstacles facing insurers as employers and how they can overcome them.

Insurindex

The London insurance market has an employment problem. Attracting and retaining the right talent is one of the biggest challenges for insurers right now. There’s a shrinking and non-diverse pool from which to choose, a massive amount of pent-up demand for quality talent and significant numbers of people moving out of the market.

This is resulting in spiralling wage inflation, potentially stymying the market’s attempts to improve cost efficiency and margins. 

Gracechurch recently launched a research report that evaluates leading insurance employer brands. We began by asking underwriters and the initial results are shocking, showing that insurers must develop their employer brands if they wish to attract and retain the best talent. 

There are five key insights from the research:

  1. In general, underwriter opinion of London insurers as employers is extremely low. Almost half of the carriers we tested were rated below five out of 10 (some of the lowest scores we have seen in any of our surveys), and there is no question the lowest-rated businesses will struggle to attract and retain talent.
  2. Currently employed underwriters are not that familiar with different insurers as employers and tend to judge them on hearsay and outdated information.
  3. Underwriters are most attracted to businesses that have strong, trusted leaders and a good market reputation with clear strategies, values and quality staff. These are the businesses that market themselves on values and people, and whose CEOs make speeches about culture and values, rather than rate rises or financial results.
  4. Underwriters completely reject businesses that have spotty financial track records or appear to be too bureaucratic.
  5. Underwriters are generally more positive about their own places of work than those of rivals.

On the one hand, these low ratings create a problem – if the most influential people in the market do not rate the sector’s strengths, this is hardly going to inspire others to join. On the other hand, this is also a significant opportunity for businesses to market themselves more effectively to recruit quality talent rather than just throwing money at the issue. 

Any business that ditches the ‘hired gun’ approach and develops its employer brand will reduce its hiring costs and find it far easier to retain and attract the best talent.

Point five is proof that many insurers are changing from within – but they are not communicating that effectively. For example, one underwriter said of his own business: “It trusts its employees, has high-quality staff, a great track record as well as flexible working and a light-touch approach.”

However, the same underwriter said of another large, strongly branded competitor: “It appears so big – I’m not sure it would be meritocratic.”

Ultimately, there needs to be a market-wide investment in employer brand communication. This would help in:

  • Improving understanding of the market, which is currently very poor even among the financial press
  • Dispelling the market’s reputation problem
  • Reducing the amount of off-putting insider jargon
  • Improving diversity and inclusion

A good place to start is by looking at best practice. Insurindex has published our ranking of the current leading employer brands at theinsurindex.com.

These top brands are undoubtedly adhering to several of the principles outlined above and we hope they can lead the way as examples for everyone.