Talent strategy: designing a workforce for the future of insurance

Financial services leadership and talent
/ Insurance and Asset Management

Insurance Governance Leadership Network, July 2017

“Workforce issues are in the forefront of our minds,” said one director. For today’s leading insurers, board-level talent discussions extend far beyond the traditional topics of top management compensation and succession planning. Boards are seeking to align talent management more closely with business strategy. “It all starts with strategy—and then we look at the talent conversation pretty carefully. What kind of skills and capabilities do you need to execute on your strategy and differentiate yourself? You need to connect skills to strategy, and the board should weigh in on that,” said one director. A strategic view demands that boards play a larger role in identifying the skills and competencies needed throughout the organization, foster training and development, and promote diversity and inclusion. Insurers have always viewed human capital as an important asset, but formulating the right talent strategy has become increasingly critical as technological developments transform the way the industry works and the talent it requires.  

Industry insiders are not confident that insurers are currently capable of building the workforces they will need. One director noted, “I want to better understand what the shape or structure of the workforce in five to seven years is going to be, so we can start to prepare for it.  We are scratching our heads at this now.”  Another director said, “The people we have are not the people we will need. We need to be hiring for the future, and that will include a host of skills and competencies that are not traditional to insurers. Do we have the best plan in place to do that?I am not so sure.”  Complicating matters are demographic changes that will generate new expectations among workers, as job tenures shorten and turnover increases. Neither recruiting pitches that emphasize stability and a job for life nor training programs built on apprenticeship are likely to be viable in the years ahead. Insurance leaders worry that they may not be able to attract, retain, and develop the workforces they will need. 

On June 6, 2017, IGLN non-executive directors, executives, and guests convened in New York to discuss how global insurance companies are addressing the changing talent landscape and dealing with emerging human capital challenges For a list of discussion participants, see Appendix A on page 11. This ViewPoints explores issues related to talent and human capital strategy based on conversations with network participants. It is organized around the following topics:

  • Industry transformation is reshaping the talent landscape and raising new challenges for insurers

  • Leading boards are expanding their oversight of talent