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13 August 2018Insurance

Rising stars 2018: Exciting change inspiring a new generation

For a very long time in its history, the reinsurance industry was renowned for its dull stability. In fact, given its primary function in the world—having the capital to pay big claims after extraordinary events—there was little wrong with that. But that was its reputation and it also meant it didn’t seem like the most exciting industry to start a career in.

Then came increasingly sophisticated cat modelling and then insurance-linked securities and sidecars offering a growing number of links to the capital markets—suddenly insurance was developing a cutting edge and a link to an industry deemed far more dynamic by younger people.

All that helped to start to change the image of an industry with a long-term problem attracting the best talent. In recent years, this process has accelerated further. It now appears that the rise of insurtech has melded the potential of Silicon Valley with risk transfer in the minds of many young people—and they are more attracted to joining the industry as a result.

Some of these are the so-called millennials with very different outlooks and ambitions from those of previous generations. But as technology blurs the lines between sectors and disrupts sales channels and other aspects of the industry including the line between re/insurance and the capital markets, those firms able to get the most from their younger executives may just be those that not only survive but thrive.

In recognition of the importance of this new wave of talent, we profile some of the younger talent in the industry. Edited profiles of a selection of this year’s Rising Stars can be seen here ( rising-stars-2018.pdf).

Technology rules

We asked our nominees why and how they ended up in this sector and about their hopes and aspirations.

Their answers make interesting reading—and the importance of insurtech crops up a lot.

Paul Hutchinson, claims consultant in the Risk Management Practice of Marsh, says that he was first attracted to the industry because he wanted to work for a company that could match his ambition and give him opportunities to learn and advance vertically.

“I hadn’t really considered insurance but when I was researching career paths I realised that it ticked all the boxes and broadly matched my skillset. Furthermore, London is the home of insurance and there’s a really unique market here,” he says.

But as he has become more immersed in the industry, he has realised the potential it has for change and breakthroughs that young people can be a part of.

“The rate of technological change means that the industry has an opportunity to bring young, tech-savvy, creative thinkers to the market—these are the people we need to future-proof insurance,” Hutchinson says.

“Working at Marsh I’m in a privileged position where I know how rewarding the insurance sector can be as a career choice. Unfortunately though, ‘insurance’ still has negative connotations among young people. As an industry we need to do more to raise the profile of insurance with young professionals, so that they’re aware that there is a lot more to it than just spreadsheets and call centres,” he says.

Will Thorne, innovation leader at Channel Syndicate, adds that he too fell into the industry after bumping into somebody who needed an intern for a week. In fact, he was taken aback by how manual parts of the job were but quickly became fascinated by the range of risks Lloyd’s underwriters deal with—and the potential of insurtech to transform the industry,

“I still remember being shocked by finding a green screen terminal at my desk and realising how much of an underwriting assistant’s job consisted of scanning bits of paper,” he says. “Yet I understood very quickly that re/insurance was actually an interesting field—there seemed to be no end to the variety of risks that we would see at the box in Lloyd’s—and it was clear that some exciting changes would be coming to the industry.

“Amid the current background of technological change, young people are increasingly empowered to make significant contributions. Re/insurance offers a wide variety of career choices, from IT to risk to capital management to broking; you can build your career according to the field you are drawn to. Like technology? Try working on cyber. Legal background? Consider the W&I market.

“More could be done to market the advantages of a career in re/insurance, but it is encouraging to see how many talented young entrepreneurs are choosing to pursue insurtech ideas.”

Thorne argues that the industry has a great story to tell—it just needs to get the message to young people.

“This is perhaps the perfect time to enter the market. The ever-increasing role of technology, data and analytics, together with the growing number of opportunities to work for or collaborate with emerging insurtechs, mean that career progression is likely to speed up. There are a lot of exciting jobs out there.

“I want to be a force for positive change in re/insurance. I am a firm believer in the idea that insurtechs will change the industry in ways that incumbents could not deliver on their own: the innovation/ventures teams at Channel and SCOR exist to form long-term partnerships with entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference. In particular, I’m interested in working on ways to solve the protection gap.

“Additionally, I want to continue to support the development of the UK insurtech scene through my role as chair of the Tech Nation/Treasury-backed Insurtech Board. I hope that we can stimulate more venture capital activity in UK insurtech over the next few years and I am always interested in ideas as to how to do so.”

Significant change

Julien Galzy, treaty underwriter at SCOR Global P&C, India, says he was originally attracted by the global and long-term nature of the reinsurance business, as well as by the fact that it relies on risk management expertise and an actuarial approach. He also strongly believed in the social added value that the industry can bring as it develops solutions to major challenges and controversial issues in our society: historical issues such as economic growth and stability, as well as more recent ones such as climate change and data privacy.

He too believes change is afoot on the technology side.

“This is an exciting time for re/insurers in Asia, with rapidly expanding markets and an extremely dynamic environment. In India, one of the main challenges is to bridge the protection gap, in an economy where insurance still has a very low level of penetration.

“At the same time, most players in the re/insurance market are trying to re-define their business models by leveraging new technologies: companies are seeking tech-savvy profiles with new suggestions on how to run operations.”

Adam Shrubshall vice president, actuarial pricing, Tokio Millennium Re, agrees that this is a very exciting time to be working in the industry.

“The industry is potentially at the beginning of a period of significant change and disruption,” Shrubshall says.

“When you consider the influx of alternative capital, the apparent ‘test’ that has been passed by that capital with regard to the hurricanes of last year together with the noise around insurtech from both new startups and established internet giants there are a multitude of potential opportunities for smart young people.

“These attractive options are far wider than those that have been available in the past, where certain areas of the industry could have been considered very traditional and perhaps a bit boring.

“There are many opportunities for young professionals and it is important that the industry promotes those opportunities to the right people. With the industry changes I have mentioned, companies should recognise that perhaps the best ideas, creative solutions and future growth opportunities may well come from minds which have grown up during a period of technology development and may see things from a different perspective from those who have been in the industry for many years.”

If you enjoyed this story and have an interest in Insurtech, join us at Intelligent InsurTECH Europe 2018, the only insurtech event with dedicated streams for CXOs, Data/Analytics, and Claims. Find out more here.

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14 February 2018   The insurance industry is facing a chronic dearth of talent—and potentially customers—that could reshape the industry unless it finds a way to engage with so-called millennials, an insurance claim consultancy has claimed.