The next level

06-10-2017

The next level

Vasilisa_k / istockphoto.com

Attracting the best talent from Generation Y and getting the best from them represents one of the biggest challenges for reinsurers. Those in Bermuda, however, might be having an easier time of it than elsewhere. Here, as part of a bigger feature available online, Bermuda:Re+ILS tracked down and interviewed 29 young executives—all 35 or under–who explain why they chose this industry.

Almost every business in the world is facing a similar challenge. The population is aging and retirement ages are being extended. Yet in a world that is changing at breakneck speed, almost every company in every sector needs to be investing in a new generation of recruits and tapping their energy, enthusiasm, capacity for change and ability with technology.

Yet this is not always easy. Attracting the best talent from Generation Y—most commonly defined as those born between 1980 and 2000—integrating them into the workplace and retaining their loyalty represents one of the biggest challenges facing recruitment and HR professionals everywhere right now.

Employers have increasingly come to understand that this generation have a very different set of values, ideas and aspirations from those that came before them. This means that traditional recruitment techniques often don’t work and the expectations of this workforce must be carefully managed, from interview to annual assessment.

This will be one of the biggest challenges HR executives will be pondering as the annual season of milk rounds, career fayres and the laborious process of sifting through CVs and application letters occurs—a similar process in any country in the world.

The importance of understanding this challenge is clear. By 2025 it is estimated that Generation Y will comprise some 70 percent of the workforce globally. Companies have no option but to figure out what makes this generation tick and how to recruit them and keep them happy.

For the risk transfer industry globally, the challenge is perhaps compounded by the legacy of an image problem the industry once had. Re/insurance has not always been perceived as glamorous. The fact that it’s an integral part of the modern financial system sometimes escapes outside observers. However, the industry remains untarnished by recent scandals and with a growing reputation for thoroughgoing professionalism.

Talent required

On Bermuda, its reputation is perhaps better than in many other markets. It has been such a crucial part of the economy for so long that more young Bermudians aspire to work in re/insurance than in any other sector. This is good—the need for fresh blood with fresh ideas will always be present. Talent is always being sought in the world of re/insurance.

Where is the talent of the future? In many cases it’s already here. This article is linked to a much larger one that is available online
(www.bermudareinsurancemagazine.com) that takes a look at some of the exciting and talented people who are starting to make their way in the industry.

We have profiled 30 young executives, all aged 35 or under, from a wide range of companies in the re/insurance industry. We asked them how they came to join the industry and what their plans and aspirations are for the future.

We have selected a sample of profiles below. As always when you look at the opinions of those on the lower rungs of the ladder they make interesting reading. The overall message is that Bermuda’s re/insurance market is exciting and diverse and above all attractive for new entrants.

A global industry next door

risingstarstable.jpgChristine Jack, manager, audit & assurance services, Deloitte in Bermuda, says she was attracted to work in roles associated with the reinsurance industry because having grown up in Bermuda, she was aware of the substantial impact the international business sector has on the Island.

She secured a scholarship and during university worked at ACE for a summer where she was introduced to the many career paths the insurance industry could offer. With a strong interest in both accounting and insurance, Deloitte’s graduate programme afforded her the opportunity to gain experience working with large reinsurance and captive clients, while pursuing a professional accounting designation.

Jack argues that the industry can be overlooked when young people are studying abroad. “However, once they come back to Bermuda, it becomes apparent that there are many different roles and career paths available within the industry so no matter what your educational background, there is opportunity for success,” she says.

“In my role, while it’s not in a re/insurance company, we are regularly helping our clients in the industry to navigate new regulation, improve their operations and adapt to changes in technology. Due to the constantly evolving and fast-paced nature of the industry, no two days are the same, which makes for an exciting career.”

Christopher Mills, senior manager in the insurance practice at PwC, tells a similar tale of becoming associated with the industry because of its pervasive influence on Bermuda. He says that when he first joined PwC, he was assigned to the financial services
team and his main client was one of the UK’s largest personal insurance companies.

“With all the experiences I’ve had working in this industry, I’m pleased to say I’ve always been very happy with that allocation and I haven’t contemplated working in another industry since,” he says. “I believe it’s an excellent industry for young professionals and it’s known to be an attractive career choice in Bermuda.”

Mills notes that he is fully aware of the importance of the industry being able to recruit its fair share of top talent.

“The industry is challenging and complex and re/insurance companies require top talent to be successful, but unfortunately there is a war for top talent globally and certain key skills are in short supply,” he says.

“A recent PwC survey showed 81 percent of insurance CEOs see limited availability of key skills as a threat to growth. People with these in-demand skills or people who are dynamic can learn quickly and offer new ideas and perspectives. The industry certainly provides varied and plentiful opportunities and can provide career development that will take people as far as they want to go.”

James Fielding, senior manager, actuarial and financial risk management, KPMG in Bermuda, admits that he stumbled into the industry and profession with very little knowledge of either. But he is very thankful he took that road.

“The Bermudian re/insurance industry, in particular, is an extremely vibrant and fast-paced environment that is attractive to many young professionals. The Island itself is an incubator for new variations on a centuries-old idea, and the industry attracts brilliant, experienced and creative minds,” he says.

Cutting edge of risk

Some of the recent changes and innovations in the industry have the potential to make the risk transfer sector even more appealing to young people. The nature of new capital entering the industry and the evolution of new risk transfer structures such as insurance-linked securities (ILS) have meant that many young people feel they can work at the cutting edge of the global field in Bermuda.

Emily Birrell, investor relations and operations manager at Hiscox Re Insurance Linked Strategies, says she happened upon Hiscox, and its culture of challenging the norm and its entrepreneurial spirit sounded appealing.

She secured a place on the Hiscox graduate scheme as a strategy analyst and now works in its ILS department. She says the change happening in risk transfer makes it a very exciting place to work.

“Now is an exciting time to be part of the industry,” Birrell says. “The convergence of capital markets and the re/insurance industry through ILS not only yields opportunity for a more varied career path, but also allows interaction with, and opportunities to learn from, a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and broader experience.

“The re/insurance industry has evolved substantially over the last decade. In the last few years in particular, we have seen significant investments in insurance-based startups and increased use of emerging data vendors and enhanced technologies.

“However there is still plenty of room for the industry to grow and advance, giving young professionals the opportunity to contribute ideas and significantly shape its future. That’s an exciting prospect.”

Click here to see the full list of profiled rising stars and a sample of those profiled.



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