19 September 2019News

How to attract the stars of the future

As some of the features in this magazine prove, Bermuda remains at the cutting edge of risk transfer and is in many ways the world’s risk capital. There are many reasons for this but a key one has always been the ability to attract and retain talented workers—from its own population and from all over the world.

But for the Island to retain its enviable position at the cutting edge of risk management, it must continue to do this. We wanted to discover whether executives on Bermuda are finding this easy or hard—and what can be done about it.

From the results of our survey, it seems that reinsurance professionals in Bermuda and beyond recognise the Island is an agreeable place to work, but have expressed concern about its ability to attract the best of a new generation of talent.

Industry professionals know attracting the brightest young employees is essential if the Island is to retain its place at the forefront of the reinsurance industry. And while everyone is aware of what Bermuda has to offer, many also recognise there are areas where it could do better.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents to the Bermuda:Re+ILS survey agreed with the statement that “Bermuda is a very reputable jurisdiction but it must work hard to attract the best people”.

Thirty-four percent of respondents were slightly more optimistic, agreeing that “Bermuda attracts its fair share of high-quality talent”. Only 12 percent said: “Bermuda does struggle to attract and keep the best and brightest.”

Challenges and red tape

Referring to some of the challenges Bermuda faces, one respondent expressed concern that immigration requirements make
it harder to attract talent to Bermuda, and the process is slower than it might be.

Several said it was too expensive for US taxpayers to work on the Island, while the high cost of living was a general concern to some. This is an especially relevant concern when it comes to attracting young, junior employees who may not command high salaries.

One respondent suggested candidates view Bermuda as a good short-term assignment, for five to seven years, but do not necessarily see the Island as a permanent home. Another questioned whether incumbent executives have time to train up the next generation of insurance employees coming through their organisations.

One respondent argued that opportunities in other places are at least as compelling as those in Bermuda for young people.

A further respondent said: “There are not enough apprenticeships, no clear career path, few opportunities for people without experience, and no government subsidy, direction or prerequisites for international business to provide leadership, training and mentoring for young Bermudians as part of qualifying for work permits or way of extending work permits.”

The same respondent argued that finance, and in particular insurance, as well as fintech, needs the same focus as tourism was given years ago on Bermuda, “by creating an internationally respected syllabus that attracts not only Bermudian but also foreign students”.

There were also more optimistic comments. One respondent said: “Bermuda is a quality jurisdiction and offers great opportunities in areas of interest to Millennials. We are, however, competing globally for talent and must stay competitive.”

Image is everything

Beyond Bermuda specifically, many respondents said the whole reinsurance sector needs to work hard to make sure it remains an appealing career choice for a new generation of employees. Just over a third of respondents agreed with the statement that “Reinsurance has a bit of an image problem and must work hard to attract young talent”—the most popular answer.

Thirty-two percent of respondents agreed with the following statement: “Reinsurance has a lot to offer and will attract the best talent”, and 26 percent felt that “Reinsurance may not be the sexiest industry but it can hold its own”.

In promoting the appeal of the reinsurance business generally, “Bermuda needs to be a leader not a follower,” advised one respondent, to retain its leadership in the market.

Some were very concerned by the perceptions potential employees might have about the reinsurance sector as a whole.

“It can come across as being a tough industry,” one person said, “with hordes of actuaries and analysts working 12-hour days. That isn’t particularly appealing for a well-qualified university grad.”

There was some optimism among those surveyed. “With growth in insurance and risk management majors, the industry has a steady pipeline of talent in addition to other fields that can be tapped,” said one respondent.

“Financial services in general is not as hot a market as before, insurance even less so,” said another. While there is considerable hype around insurtech, “the reality is very different,” the respondent added.

There was a feeling among some that the industry should be aware of this and take steps to improve its image. “We need to sell the modern approach to reinsurance better, and relate it to fintech/blockchain,” one person said.

“Insurance and even banks will survive the blockchain revolution just like telecom companies survived the internet revolution 20 years ago. It will however be a rough ride leading to many changes and realignments. Some big names will go but a new breed will emerge.”

Some respondents argued the real challenge is not selling reinsurance to people who know the business, but getting the business out there in the first place.

“Insurance is more obscure than most sectors, and reinsurance even more so,” said one. But reinsurance does have things going for it for those who stumble across it, the respondent added. “The attraction of reinsurance is the more interesting financial elements and the bespoke nature. So too is the direct interaction with ILS and beyond.”

Another added: “Once discovered, reinsurance is quite attractive. Getting in front of the best talent and explaining the industry is the big challenge.”