Candidate Shortage in the Life Insurance Actuarial Market

Candidate Shortage in the Life Insurance Actuarial Market
Article contributed by Tallulah Brown
Written on 03 March 2016

On the whole the actuarial market is a candidate short one.  However, life insurance appears to be much more candidate short compared with general insurance and superannuation.

Using the 2012 list of those who qualified as Fellows of the Institute of Actuaries Australia, I mapped out those that I could find on LinkedIn or knew through Stirling Andersen’s networks. In 2012 there were 25 new Fellows, the breakdown of the industry they are working in, is as follows:

General Insurance = 11
Super and Investments = 3
Non-insurance = 1
Overseas = 3
Unsure = 3
Life Insurance = 2

Two Fellows in life insurance in Australia, just two! This is a trend we have seen across other groups of new Fellows as well. So what effect has this had on hiring? I thought it would be useful to set out a few reasons why it can be difficult to find and secure candidates in this area and what can be done to attract talent.

Who is hiring?

Over the last calendar year there has been a large amount of movement and hiring within life insurance across corporates, reinsurers, banks, and consulting firms.  With all these different businesses trying to find talent it makes for a small pool of candidates who are highly sort after.

  • Corporates: We have seen a lot of hiring across all levels with growth for most companies. This is across both pricing, valuations and capital roles.
  • Reinsurance:  All the major players are hiring, as well as small start ups, looking to grow their teams.  We have seen this at all levels and across valuations and pricing.  This is taking people out of corporate and consulting roles.  There has also been movement between reinsurers.
  • Banks:  The corporate banks have been hiring in risk and non-traditional actuarial areas, attracting people from life insurance or investments backgrounds.
  • Consulting: Both the Big 4 and smaller actuarial consultancies have been hiring. People are interested in these opportunities for the variety they offer. They are often open to people from overseas and can be more flexible on the skillset going into the role.

What areas are particularly candidate short?

As mentioned above, life insurance is candidate short across the board with other areas of insurance attracting talent at the early stages. The areas below have been particularly active in terms of hiring and we have found them to be very candidate short;

  • Group pricing: There is a demand for people with group pricing experience from a junior to senior level and it is sucking people out of retail pricing and group valuations. With a need for Australian market knowledge in this area as well, the pool of available candidates is even smaller.
  • Valuations:  This can be a harder sell to candidates at most levels and all corporates are competing for valuations actuaries. To make a valuation role stand out, companies can make the role a bit broader, so that candidates have access to a full spectrum of tasks.
  • Technical Analytics Roles:  There has been a demand in the market for people with strong Prophet coding backgrounds. This is a very small pool of people in the Australian Market.  Insurers and reinsurers are also looking for people with SAS experience to work on analytics projects.The shortage of candidates in these areas has also pushed up salary bandings in this area, which is another consideration when trying to attract good talent.

The year ahead: What areas are going to be hiring?

  • Capital:  There has already been some hiring in capital but I think this is an area that will continue to grow.  It is an area that will draw candidates out of valuations. We have also seen a few general insurers be open at looking at life insurance candidates, a further threat to the life insurance candidate pool.
  • Group Insurance: This area doesn’t seem to be slowing down from a hiring perspective any time soon. As this market grows, more and more actuaries will be sort after.
  • Data Analytics:  A highly appealing area for actuaries to move into that doesn’t seem to be slowing down in growth. People with strong statistical modelling and software capabilities are being snapped up.

What are the solutions for businesses struggling to attract staff?

  • Look at candidates from superannuation or investment backgrounds.
  • The companies that are having success hiring are often more open to overseas candidates or people with broader skillsets. Companies are already starting to look at candidates from a general insurance background, which is a step in the right direction.
  • To make roles more appealing to candidates, changing roles where you can to include a broader scope of tasks can assist.   For example, management/mentoring opportunities, capital work, or data analytics projects.
  • Increase hiring at an analyst level to help build up life insurance talent.
  • Increase the number of people on temporary or contracts assignments, this is a great way to fill immediate gaps.
  • Look at candidates from overseas.  There is often a strong focus on Australian market experience, which is necessary in some cases, but broadening your search to include people from overseas will help increase the pool of candidates available.

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please feel free to contact us at Stirling Andersen on 02 8256 5000. 

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