September 28, 2018 – Major global companies in technology, digital and financial sectors are seeking a record number of insurance leaders with the combination of both digital and industry or “domain” experience, report executive recruiters familiar with the space. Companies looking for these C-suite executives require both insurance expertise and high levels of “digital proficiency,” they say – a combination that is scarce in the insurance market and beyond.
Newly released data from global search firm TritonExec indicates that 58 percent of assignments across its primary practice areas of digital and private equity are for insurance executives with strong digital acumen. Why the shift?
“Insurance as an industry has been notoriously slow in its digital embrace,” said Abe Doctor, head of TritonExec in the U.S. “However, we’re seeing it play catch up at a rapid pace. Within insurance, underwriters are now being required to have ‘digital acumen’ to speak to product teams, for example.”
“The significance of our research speaks of a much more important trend: Growing global companies outside the insurance market — yet with a requirement for insurance executives — need the combination of both digital and industry experience at a time when these individuals are scarce,” he said. Like the search for other functional C-suite leaders, talent demand is outstripping the supply of qualified candidates.
Novel Ways to Acquire Talent
Leading global insurers are facing a human capital challenge unlike anything in history, given the lack of digital proficiency among its incoming wave of leadership. “Current insurance industry leadership lack the experience to keep these companies evolving given the rate of disruption from insuretech,” said Mr. Doctor. “We’re seeing a trend of legacy insurers acquiring insuretechs largely for their human capital who are digitally and industry proficient. Our evidence of this is the vast sums of capital flowing into private equity businesses run by executives with the right combination of these much needed skills.”
Both insuretech and the legacy insurance market need one another. “We’re seeing insuretechs acquiring star performers from legacy insurers with decades worth of valuable experience – to new companies typically formed by younger non-industry individuals,” said Mr. Doctor. “On the reverse, we see legacy insurers unable to compete with the pool of both industry and digital talent honed by insuretechs which is then leading them to acquire these new companies.”
Boutique Search Firms Step In Where Big Recruiters Falter
The biggest selling points for large search firms – the depth of their recruitment manpower and the diversity of their services – are the very elements that are causing many clients to turn to boutique recruiters.
Georgina Pawley, senior director and global transformation practice lead at TritonExec, said demand is growing. “Our clients include one of the largest publicly traded consulting firms, as well as a multi-billion dollar growth firm backed by private equity, where during the past 18 months we have seen the rise in executive-level mandates as they look to build out global teams of digitally capable, partner and VP level leaders who bring subject matter expertise across underwriting, claims, analytics, products and technology,” she said.
In the first quarter of 2018 TritonExec reported an increase across its primary practice areas (digital services and private equity) of 60 percent in revenues. This continued in the second quarter with insurance briefs topping the list of search assignments.
Since its inception in 2011, TritonExec has attracted multi-million-dollar contracts, and built a global clientele including Capgemini, Accenture, Icahn Enterprises, Gryphon Investors and Genpact.
Mr. Doctor is a specialist in the recruitment and assessment of senior leadership and board directors for global Fortune 500, venture capital and private equity-backed organizations spanning the technology, fintech/insuretech, business and professional services, industrial, high-tech and banking/capital markets.
Insurance Sector Surging
According to the latest U.S. insurance labor market study conducted by the Jacobson Group and Ward Group, 65 percent of companies polled intended to increase staff in this past year. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the unemployment rate for the insurance industry is at 3.3 percent, which remains significantly lower than the national average.
“Expected increases in business volume and expansion into new markets are driving continued hiring,” said Gregory P. Jacobson, co-chief executive officer of the Jacobson Group. “This organizational growth, coupled with a shallow talent pool and virtually non-existent industry unemployment, results in an increasingly competitive labor market.”
The study found that openings remain moderately difficult to fill and recruiting is slightly more difficult in most disciplines than it was the previous year.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media