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INFUSE: A new era awaits underwriting talent.

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Published on:10th May 2024
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The insurance industry is on the precipice of unprecedented change. And while that might scare some of us (and it should), it also represents a tremendous opportunity. One of the focal points of the sector has been managing talent – existing talent as roles and responsibilities shift with the introduction of new technology, processes, and automation, but also how they leverage these innovations to attract new talent.

During the third session of our webinar series ‘INFUSE’, titled “Finding, and keeping, the best underwriting talent”, industry experts heralded a transformative era for underwriters. 

During the session, our panelists, Georgi Munger, Global Head of MidCorp Casualty & Underwriting Practices at Allianz, Caroline Bedford, Chief Executive at EDII and Pat Caldwell, Chief People Officer at Send, discussed talent acquisition, retention and succession strategies that will define the underwriting landscape for the next decade. 

You can view the short, 30-minute recording here.

A talent time-bomb is looming

By 2026, a staggering 400,000 insurance employees are poised to retire in the United States. This means we are less than 18 months away before the big exodus begins. The impact on the industry as a whole, not just for those organizations that are primed to lose a significant chunk of their intellectual capital, is huge.

On one hand, industry veterans with years of knowledge are preparing for an exit. On the other, fresh talent is faced with the continuous acceleration of technology. While the situation looks grim, there is a genuine need to look at this as an opportunity versus a threat, says Pat Caldwell, Chief People Officer at Send. 

“The insurance industry is not alone. There is a huge talent crisis across sectors today. From the offset, there is a lot we can share and learn from each other in handling the situation. We must look at this as an opportunity to involve seniors in our succession plans and streamline fresh talent to thrive in the next decade.” – 

Pat Caldwell, Chief People Officer at Send 

Attracting talent beyond compensation 

Today, underwriters are being offered compensation, flexibility and other benefits that have the potential to attract talent into an industry that desperately needs fresh thinking and energy. For example, panelist Caroline Bedford mentioned how specialty insurer Convex extended their paid paternity leave for their underwriters from eight weeks to six months. Georgi Munger from Allianz said her company went a step further and paid their new underwriters to learn everything about underwriting for a year without expectations. These innovative offers for work-life balance and skills development are resulting in a steady inflow of fresh talent looking to join the industry. However, this is not enough. Talent development is the next bridge to cross.

Navigating underwriting talent development

Fresh graduates need significant mentoring to scale up as underwriting specialists.

Whether it’s technical training or soft skills, it takes years before they gain the right business acumen for what is a complicated and complex industry. This is where senior and experienced staff play a vital role in knowledge transfer during the industry’s talent transition. However, the situation at workspaces is much different today. 

Post-Covid, veteran underwriters have preferred to work from home while the new candidates are in office. This creates a deep learning gap because the industry needs candidates to have hands-on experience. Georgi Munger, Global Head of MidCorp Casualty & Underwriting Practices at Allianz, recalls the situation at her office in New York:

“There are fourteen senior underwriters on my team. Only two of them work in the office. At the same time, I have four associate graduates in the office that don’t get to work with actual underwriters at all. Without seniors and juniors working together, talent development will slow down.” Georgi Munger, Global Head of MidCorp Casualty & Underwriting Practices at Allianz

Diversity may help retain talent

Insurers are not just looking to hire risk management professionals; they want and need candidates from different industries with diverse educational backgrounds to build inclusivity.

Georgi Munger from Allianz said that the industry is not looking to create clones. She reiterated that the dynamic workforce would help candidates feel valued and give a sense of belonging within the organization. This diversity also encourages a more senior workforce to be accepting and open to digital trends in underwriting and invest in upskilling themselves for the future. 

A.I. is empowering talent transition

In the absence of a senior underwriter, A.I-driven language models can facilitate information about policy coverages, underwriting rules, and industry terminology during the onboarding of new talent. For newer policy models, A.I also can help retrieve the latest data and help expedite their education during the onboarding process by giving them almost immediate access to the information a new hire needs to come up to speed quickly and efficiently. 

This helps new hires improve their skill sets, increase their data fluency and elevate their data literacy. Caroline Bedford, Chief Executive at EDII mentioned that experienced underwriters may not be familiar with parametric or embedded systems. This enables the younger talent to independently learn from A.I.  

A glimpse into the future of underwriting talent

In summary, the panelists provided some parting words of wisdom to the audience:

  • Georgie Munger from Allianz said that recruiting is easy. Retaining, training and upscaling talent is the key to the future of underwriting talent.
  • Pat Caldwell from Send said that insurers who treat this crisis as an opportunity would emerge as winners in the next 10 years.
  • Caroline Bedford from EDII signed off advising young underwriting talent to look for a company that is future-focused, digitally savvy, and can provide the right partnerships for a robust career.

In 2024, underwriters can anticipate a paradigm shift in employer expectations. Insurers are aiming to instill a future-centric approach, with a stronger emphasis on upskilling and sustained adoption of A.I.  

Watch the short, 30-minute recording here. Join the INFUSE community and get ready to fuel the evolution of underwriting.

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