Time to cast a wider net: cyber insurance and recruitment
Cyber insurance faces a dearth of talent that could only get worse unless it gets creative with recruitment and retention, according to speakers at Intelligent Insurer’s Cyber Risk and Insurance Innovation USA 2023 event in May.
In a “fireside chat” with Daisy Lopez, vice president of cyber for Bermuda’s Mosaic Insurance, moderator Robin Roberson, senior vice president at Eberl Claims Service, introduced the discussion by citing a recent US Chamber of Commerce report on labour statistics forecasting that over half of the insurance workforce will retire in the next 15 years, while fewer than a quarter of the workforce is under 35 years old.
According to Lopez, the shortages are already being felt in cyber.
“We saw in the harder market there was an increased demand for terms and conditions in the market, and unfortunately, the talent pool just wasn’t there,” she said.
Starting in early 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mosaic concentrates on specialty markets and “tougher classes of business”, including war, terrorism, transactional liability, professional indemnity and environmental liability. Bermuda-based, the company has a wholly-owned Lloyd’s of London syndicate, 1609, as well as capital management agencies in London, the US and Asia.
“Like a lot of our competitors, Mosaic is targeting underwriters with three to five years of experience, and unfortunately, there is just not enough of them,” Lopez said.
Cyber lines, in particular, face competition—not just from better-established segments of the insurance market but from other sectors that have been more successful in attracting a new generation of talent.
“It comes down to how we sell our industry. Historically, the insurance industry hasn’t had the best reputation, but when I think about cyber, we’re solving some very interesting and challenging problems. There’s a lot of value in that, and we can create meaningful careers in what we’re doing,” she explained.
To do so, however, the sector must think more creatively.
The case for flexibility
There are several practical steps the industry can take, Lopez suggested. Among these are a commitment to training and providing flexibility for those joining the workforce.
“Allowing new candidates to have more control over their careers and destinies is really important,” she said. “The career you can have in insurance tends to be very linear.
“There’s a natural progression in how we promote people, and maybe we can be creative and start thinking about the workforce’s needs.”
That’s a factor not just in recruitment but also in retention. As people progress in the industry, they tend to take on more responsibilities which are not necessarily geared to their talents or preferences.
“You end up getting further and further away from the thing you actually enjoy doing in the first place. You become a manager, for instance, when all you wanted to do was underwrite,” Lopez explained. “We need to work with our talent and staff to ask what their skillset is, what they want to do and how we can get the best and most out of them to keep them happy.”
Flexibility may have to extend to how people work. There is, Lopez argued, an increased emphasis on work-life balance among the younger generation.
“Newer candidates aren’t necessarily interested in working in the same way I did, where it was a badge of honour to work in the office until 10 pm every night,” she said.
Looking to new sources
The industry may need to be more flexible about who it hires. On one hand, it can and should do more to forge closer partnerships with the colleges and universities that provide so much of its talent.
Lopez cited the inaugural conference Mosaic sponsored on cybersecurity hosted by the Business & Policy Forum at George Washington University, bringing together representatives from insurers, other industries and the government. Speakers included the chief strategy officer of the US Department of Homeland Security, Google’s global affairs president, and the White House & National Security Correspondent for The New York Times, among others.
But, she said, the sector also needs to look further afield: the tech sector, for instance, which has often snapped up talent, is now experiencing significant layoffs. There could be opportunities there, remarked Lopez. It could also examine what qualifications and skills it requires from candidates—“thinking beyond just recruiting from colleges”.
“With trade and technical schools, there’s a completely untapped workforce out there who might be keen to join the industry.”
Crucially, the industry needs to work together and share its expertise to help develop and maintain the skills within its workforce—a goal to which events such as May’s conference can contribute.
As Lopez concluded: “There’s a lot of knowledge out there, and we could all be learning from each other.”