How the insurtech wave revitalized the insurance talent pool

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One of the challenges the insurance industry has been battling over the past decade or so has been attracting enough of the talent that can lead insurers into the digital economy. With digital brands such as Google and Amazon sucking up all available talent, and many of the remaining tech professionals following their dreams in startups with weird-sounding names, selling employment at a more staid, conservative insurance company has become that much more of a difficult job.

As insurtechs popped on the scene, and the big digital players began making rumblings about getting into the insurance business themselves, it looked like the job of attracting talent was going to get 10 times as difficult. But, as it turns out, these movements have served to make insurance industry disruption a very sexy pursuit, one that is tuning talented professionals into the ways and means of the industry.

For starters, insurance executives’ fears about insurtech and digital platform players, while realistic, may have been overblown. Yes, members of the insurance establishment had quite a scare in recent years as digital-savvy players emerged, threatening to take big bites out of important pieces of the market – just as they have done in media, entertainment, hoteling, and personal transportation. A recent survey of insurance CEOs, however, finds a feeling that the industry as we know it is surviving the threats.

The PwC survey, based on 1,293 insurance executives, makes it clear, that moving to digital platforms is more of an urgency than ever. Insurance leaders “must develop a seamless end-to-end digital business model, which runs from advice and origination all the way to claims, and combines the best of humans and machines in a ‘bionic’ organization,” Stephen O’Hearn PwC’s Global Insurance Leader, states in the report’s foreword. More insurance CEOs do recognize the enormity of this challenge than they did a year ago – more than half (51%) report being extremely concerned about the pace of technological change.”

Insurtech companies are looming large over the industry horizon, the report adds. But rather than fight them, many mainstream insurers are joining them. Half of the CEOs in the survey say they intend to partner with insurtech players to expand their own technology and data prowess.

Of course, building a technology-savvy organization that can advance in the emerging digital economy requires one thing above all else: skills. Desperately needed are people adept at data analytics, application development, cloud management and innovative thinking. Right now, only 19% of CEOs say they are successfully attracting the talent they need to move forward. This may be where the insurtech phenomenon is helping out. The perception of insurance being a staid, somewhat stale industry – which may have kept talented people away – has been shattered by the rise of the insurtechs.

Accordingly 53% of CEOs say they are making efforts to modernize their working environments, with such approaches as “rolling out digital tools, creating collaborative physical environments.” Another 49% are engaged in implementing “flexible ways of working, such as mobile and remote working.” At least 45% report they are implementing “continuous learning and development programs,” and another 45% are pursing the insurtech partnership engagements expressed above – but for the express purpose of attracting talent.

So, while the insurtech and digital scare may not be proving to be an extensional crisis to the insurance industry after all, it is ramping up the pressure to move to the digital world. In the process, the talent pool of individuals ready and willing to take part in the digitization of insurance is ready and waiting.

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