Having recruited IT and Business Change professionals exclusively within the Insurance sector for many years, I have seen the perception of this market change significantly. Traditionally recruiters of change and project professionals have seen insurance companies, in general, play second fiddle to their banking equivalents. A belief that its technology was archaic, change was met with resistance and that overall the market was maybe 5 to 10 years behind where it should be were common and often confirmed by the industry itself.
Correct or not, it is clear that the insurance market as a whole is a very different place than was ten years ago.
Technology for one has definitely moved forward. We have seen large to small organisations invest in new claims, underwriting and finance systems and there has been significant investment in other areas too.
Many of these programmes are new to the insurance industry, which in turn has helped to bring talent into the industry.
I also believe the market is now less resistant to change and the willingness to recruit candidates from outside of the insurance market has played a key part in this. Although still in the minority, over the last few years I have seen more clients put a greater focus on a candidates core skill set as opposed to an insurance industry background. They can teach product knowledge, but ability is a lot harder to teach.
I believe mid to senior level professionals from other industries coming in to the insurance sector can only be positive and will assist in helping the market evolve. This combined with the numerous graduate schemes (particularly within the Lloyd’s market) on offer, will go along way in helping the market stay fresh and ensure it does not stand still.
I have heard people say that "the London City skyline is a good barometer of how the market is performing". The more cranes and construction you see the more buoyant the market is. It bodes well then that two most significant buildings being constructed in the City as we speak are going to be tenanted by insurance organisations. The Leadenhall Building (AON and Amlin) and 20 Fenchurch Street (RSA, Kiln, Markel, Tokia Marine and Liberty Mutual) are both due to be completed in 2014. Some of the biggest and most significant programmes currently taking place in the financial services sector are being undertaken by insurance organisations and this will continue to move forward as other insurance companies start playing catch up.
All in all I believe the insurance sector to be a successful and evolving industry with an exciting and bright future for both candidates currently within it and for those on the outside looking in. Hopefully a perception shared by many.
All of this and we have not even mentioned Solvency II!