Amid the gloom, insurers continue to increase headcount. Here’s where they’re hiring

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A number of reports today have stated the obvious; that financial services is not a good place to work currently. Sentiment is down, headcount is tumbling and more redundancies appear likely. The exception to this, however, is insurance.

It’s not entirely positive in the insurance sector. According to the new PwC/CBI Financial Services survey, general insurers and insurance brokers firms are all less optimistic about their prospects than the previous three months, and experienced a slump in business volumes from June to September. Life insurers, however, have witnessed the largest upturn in business volumes since June 2011, suggests the survey.

Nonetheless, all three sectors have increased headcount and plan to do so for the remainder of the year. A balance of 80% of life insurers said they intend to increase headcount in the next three months, while this figure is 7% in general insurance and 13% within the insurance broking sector.

So, where can you expect hiring? Based on conversations with specialist insurance recruiters, here are the top four positions.

1. Strategic positions related to the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in life insurance firms

RDR has been driving up costs in the life insurance sector, and big part of that is down to an increase in headcount. Mark Stephen, UK insurance leader at PwC, says that life insurers are continuing to “aggressively” chase new business before RDR is introduced and this is driving up headcount.

In particular, according to recruiters we spoke to, project managers and business analysts are being brought in to assess the impact of the legislation.

2. Technology

Like the banking sector, despite the focus on cost-cutting, insurance firms are still spending more on technology. A balance of 75% of life insurers, 35% of insurance brokers and 7% of general insurers are all increasing their spend on IT, according to the PwC/CBI survey.

Insurance firms are balancing a need to update creaking legacy systems as well as overhaul their tech systems due to regulatory pressure. In particular, there’s a big demand for IT change management professionals within life insurance, while Solvency II is forcing companies to improve the quality of their data, and methods of reporting, so data analysts and data warehousing specialists are all being hired.

3. Actuaries, actuaries…and more actuaries

Are there ever enough actuaries in the world? Solvency II has driven up demand for capital and liability modelling specialists, and salaries have been driven up over the past 18 months, while business as usual recruitment has meant that insurers are struggling to fill their actuarial vacancies.

General insurance firms have started to cut jobs, and there’s an imperative to keep costs under control. The exception, however, is when it comes to recruiting actuaries – in order to capture the requisite number of recruits, they’re having to ensure their salaries are in line with life insurers and brokers. The only saving grace is that investment banks, who historically offered big bonuses to actuaries, no longer have much of an appetite to recruit.

4. Operational roles in the Lloyd’s market

When you think of competition for talent in the Lloyd’s market, it’s safe to say that the revenue-generators have traditionally enjoyed more salary inflation and multiple offers than those in operational functions. However, as we pointed to last week, poaching has started to become more commonplace for senior operations professionals and salaries have headed north of £120k.

Today, Lloyd’s insurer Kiln has named Denise Garland as chief operating officer and, as its chief executive Charles Frank said, the appointment was in response to “an enormous amount of change” in sector.

“Market modernisation, regulation and the rise of big data, coupled with challenging economic conditions, are changing the way companies need to operate,” he said.

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