Monday, March 21, 2016

The Underwriting Staffing Challenge

Our firm, Capstone Search Group, has taken over the underwriting recruiting for Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance’s Human Resources department. On their behalf we are seeking Commercial Multi-line Underwriters in NJ, PA, CA, IL and VA. This is an example of one Client Company looking for alternative ways to resolve their talent shortage.

The insurance industry has been impacted in many ways by the last few years of record unemployment rates, company downsizings and lay-offs.  The industry now faces a new challenge: an emerging talent crisis.

Starting around 2008 companies slowly stopped hiring new talent which no longer placed new blood into the training pipeline. Developing the next generation of underwriting talent was absent. Fast forward to 2015/2016 and we are now experiencing the trend everyone has been talking about, the baby boomer brain drain. 

This phenomenon has created the most competitive recruiting environment the industry has ever faced. Nowhere is this lack of talent felt more than within the underwriting function.

Developing the next generation of underwriting talent has become a priority for many insurance carriers. In addition to help soften the impact of the shortage of talent, companies are looking to alternatives such as implementing interim staffing strategies to meet immediate needs.

The demand for underwriting talent has skyrocketed in recent years as insurers look to improve profitability. Based on a 2013 study by Deloitte, a growth rate for insurance underwriters of nearly 6 percent through 2020 and add in a replacement rate of 32.6 percent (well above the national average for job openings resulting from retiring workers or other permanent vacancies) and it is clear that the underwriting function faces a dire need for talent. Unfortunately, the supply of insurance underwriters fails to keep pace with the increased industry demand.

Underwriting ranks in the top three functions where companies are most likely to increase staff. As the demand continues to grow, the recruitment difficulties facing organizations will only intensify.

Today’s young professionals are drawn to careers in industries that have been more aggressive in their recruitment efforts and are often perceived as more attractive or glamorous. In order to combat this, insurers must focus on proactively engaging and educating students on the opportunities they may have within the underwriting industry. Social media sites and other forums that young professionals frequent must be used to help this education process. On campus career fairs must appeal to the young professionals coming out of college. Through initiatives such as these insurers will be able to successfully combat the skills shortage and attract young, fresh talent to the underwriting field.


Beyond the development of the next generation of underwriting talent, many organizations have immediate needs to address. The key lies in rethinking current workforce strategies. Contract Underwriting Professionals can help ease the work load.  There are many Underwriting professionals available ready to meet the growing demand. Traditionally these professionals have been relied upon to fill unexpected vacancies or to assist with short term projects. However, they present a unique solution to the growing skills gap, with insurers turning to these professionals as trainers or as a complement or even supplement to their traditional permanent employees.

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