Talent Crunch Creates Risk

The unpredictable nature of COVID-19 has caused the issue of the talent crunch to come into focus like never before.

By Claire Wilkinson, Business Insurance 3/2022

Among the many risks highlighted by top executives for 2022 is the ongoing shortage of talent. While this is by no means the first time the challenge of a talent crunch has been discussed by insurance executives, it appears that the issue has come into full focus with the unpredictable nature and duration of COVID-19.

In the 2022 Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty Risk Barometer, the shortage of skilled workforce placed ninth among top risks. This is the first time the issue has entered the top 10. Attracting and retaining workers has rarely been more challenging, according to CEOs, risk managers, brokers, and other insurance experts. By industry, the talent shortage was ranked as a top five risk in the engineering, construction, real estate, public service, and health care sectors, and as the top risk for transportation.

Similarly, in Deloitte’s first CEO survey of 2022, talent remains a top concern. When CEOs were first asked in June 2021 about the biggest challenge they faced, one quarter pointed to talent-related issues. Asked the same question in September, nearly half said talent, and that concern remains, with half of CEOs in January saying talent and workforce is their main challenge. Difficulties in fighting COVID-19 fatigue among employees, finding/keeping the best people and responding to new work paradigms were some of the issues that CEOs specifically called out.

Perhaps more pertinent for the risk management and insurance industry, 71% of CEOs selected labor/skills shortage as one of the top three external issues they expect to influence or disrupt their business strategy within the next 12 months. Take supply chain risk, for example, a long-time concern that has intensified during the pandemic. Labor shortages can have a major effect on supply chains, with a swathe of workers such as truck drivers, warehouse workers and local delivery drivers in short supply, and businesses, faced with higher operating costs, struggling to recruit and retain workers.

When asked what supply chain challenges their organization has experienced, more than three quarters of CEOs in the Deloitte survey said labor shortages, and more than half noted production and/or logistics delays.

As the world becomes more interconnected, supply chain vulnerabilities are emerging in many areas of business. Cybersecurity is a good example. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the U.S. last May underscored the need to strengthen and plan for future outages. The shutdown of the pipeline following a ransomware attack that forced the company to take some systems offline and halt the pipeline’s operations disrupted a major supply of fuel to the East Coast for about a week. Natural disasters, from hurricanes and tsunamis to floods and tornadoes, are also increasing and with rising climate risks inevitably global supply chains will be further disrupted.

It’s clear that with the labor shortages so many industries are experiencing, even with the best business continuity plans, organizations will struggle if they don’t have the right talent. For risk managers, business leaders will be leaning heavily on their expertise to address future volatility, disruption, and uncertainty, and they are well-positioned, after two years of the pandemic, to contribute to their organizations’ success.

Insurance Talent Need – PE and M&A Advisory Service Teams

The top national brokers have had PE and M&A advisory units for a number of years and now we are starting to see large regional players starting to build out these units. These units are responsible for conducting comprehensive reviews of P&C and Benefits insurance coverages of acquisition targets for private equity and other financial sponsor clients. The goal is to mitigate risk pre-close, during the transaction, and post-close. 

Since these services are M&A-focused, they stem from the Private Equity sector. That sector has grown by $4 Trillion in the past decade and “sponsored companies” have grown by 170% in the last few years. Insurance brokers are now moving rapidly to build teams of due diligence analysts, transactional advisors (P&C and EB), and practice leaders to capitalize on this business segment. 

Due to the relative newness of these roles, talent is at a premium. If you are looking to build out these units at your own brokerage, consider the below strategies when recruiting. 

1. Be Organized with Regard to the Search:

Have formal job descriptions and interview structure prepared prior to the search. Also, understand your story and be able to communicate that to candidates.

2. Understand the Market:

Research your competition. Know who has these units, where their staff is located (your target list), and have a basic understanding of compensation models used in these units. 

3. Be Flexible and Move Quickly:

We are currently in one of the most candidate-centric markets of the last twenty years for the insurance industry. We have one national brokerage client that had 106 openings this time last year and now has 606 openings. With that in mind, be organized, consider remote work environments for top talent, and move quickly when you have an “A Candidate” in the pipeline! 

According to Insurance Business Magazine 59 is the average age of an insurance agent. A recent LIMRA survey pegged the average Employee Benefit producer at 56 years old, while a white paper from McKinsey & Co. puts the average age of a Commercial Insurance Agent at 59. Within the next ten years one fourth of the commercial insurance work force will be retiring. This means that hiring managers will need to have a stronger push at the college level to fill entry level roles and build “bench strength”.  One problem that companies may experience when working to fill these openings, will be with the Millennial Generation. The millennial generation just doesn’t seem to be that interested in the insurance industry. A survey by the Institutes indicated that only 5% of millennials and 2% of overall students said they were interested in an insurance career.

Those numbers might feel daunting to a hiring manager, but the same survey indicated that 61% of students would like a job that analyzed risk and recommended solutions. So it sounds to us, that the industry has just done a poor job of promoting the sector to college graduates. In short, the industry needs to pivot and speak to a younger audience in a way that connects them. 

Well how do you connect to an audience that has grown up in a world that looks completely different than it did just 30 years earlier? Online of course! According to Vertafore millennials are more than twice as likely as other generations to be recruited on social media. That means that attending a virtual college fair or connecting on LinkedIn, particularly in the wake of Corvid-19, may be a more powerful recruitment tool than an in person fair could ever be.

While our search firm focuses on senior service staff, production and management roles within the distribution channel of insurance, the following universities offer Insurance and Risk Management programs and can be a good place to start a search for entry positions.   

1. University of Pennsylvania

2. St. Joseph’s University

3. University of Georgia

4. Georgia State University

5. University of Wisconsin — Madison

6. Temple University

7. Florida State University

8.  University of Texas — Austin

9.  New York University

10.Pennsylvania State University — University Park

According to the U.S Census Bureau by 2050 the retired population will have doubled reaching 88 million. Approximately 400,000 of those will be in the Insurance industry. Is your pipeline prepared to fill that need? If not and you’re interested in recruitment services, please visit our website at: rogangroup.com  or reach out to Dan Rogan at 800-440-0082 /drogan@rogangroup.com