Interview: JIRB Group Founder Discusses Financial Services and Insurance Sector Recruiting

November 5, 2009 – David James Beed is the founder of West Hartford, CT-based executive search firm JIRB Group, LLC. Mr. Beed has specialized in insurance and financial services for more than 30 years and is trusted and valued by the industry's top executives. Holding positions that include president, chief operations officer, chief marketing officer, head of distribution and chief of strategy and planning, he has personally managed virtually every aspect of business in the life insurance, property-casualty, group and managed care businesses. Prior to forming the JIRB Group, he was partner and insurance practice leader at LAI Worldwide. In the following interview, Mr. Beed discusses executive search within the insurance and financial services industries.
Have you seen any improvement in the financial services industry?
This is a difficult question because I have felt that things were getting better at the beginning of the last two quarters, but each quarter — while showing slight improvement — has essentially been the same as the prior quarter. Currently I am hearing more conversations around building or expanding but there is still a strong reluctance to move ahead or be the lead in the industry. All in all the financial services industry is still very fragile.
Within the insurance sector, how has the executive search market been over the past year? Where do you see things moving forward?
The insurance sector has followed the financial services sector. In our business we are off 25 percent for the last 18 months. With that as a background I still see activity in the international sector and the beginning of an increase in activity for domestic business. I believe we will see 2010 clearly stronger than ’08 or ’09 but the increase may continue to build deliberately. The growth that I anticipate will continue to be for executives experienced in growing businesses and in financial and control positions.
How has the weakened real estate market affected the executive search industry?
Our country is now so integrated and global that it is impossible for most businesses and industries to not be impacted by a severe problem or failure in a major industry. This was especially true in the real estate industry since it affects most of the country through both the housing market and commercial real estate. Virtually every individual and every business has been negatively impacted directly or indirectly.
Has the economy caused any other trends in search?
The economy has obviously affected search in many ways. One trend that I frequently witness is generated by the fragility of the business sector which has resulted in an increased length of time for decisions on new executive hires both from the companies and from the candidates themselves. It is understandable that everyone is taking more time with increased due diligence but the entire decision making process in many companies has clearly slowed and at times slowed substantially. Everyone is being much more deliberate with all executive hires.
What types of searches has JIRB Group recently been engaged in?
If I try to generalize our search activity it would revolve around a significant number of international searches generally involving executives that are strong in distribution, financial and risk as well as individuals with strong building experience. Domestically we are constantly working on distribution because of the need to grow businesses. We are also involved in more positions around increased regulatory needs and financial controls than in the past 10 to 20 years. These positions include but are limited to risk, legal, compliance, actuarial, audit and strong independent financial officers.
The executive search industry is usually a good barometer of what direction the economy is heading. How do you see business moving forward?
I believe business is moving forward on many fronts but still at a cautious pace. The momentum seems to be building but it still may grow slowly as the caution within the business community wants to make certain that it doesn’t get ahead of the economy and recovery. Therefore the easy answer is deliberate, but building.

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