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Understanding the Talent Crunch in the Insurance Sector

Managing Director of SCOR APAC, Mr Eric Pooi, shares his views on the current talent crunch in the insurance sector and what can be done.

I am Eric POOI, the managing director for SCOR APAC.  I have been in the insurance industry for over 30 years and currently I am also a member of the Advisory Council for GAIP.

Do you feel there is a talent crunch in the insurance sector in Asia, and in which particular areas?

It is quite clear that there is a talent crunch in the industry and it is not getting better. 

A career in this industry is generally not a top choice among young adults which has been misconceived as being just  an insurance agent or financial advisor.  Further, it is certainly not seen as glamourous as an investment banker or where the money is, such as in the AI related industry.  In my opinion, there isn't sufficient information to share with these young adults what this career can provide.  And many don't understand that you can be an expertise of different fields not just with actuarial or insurance qualification.  This industry is also in need of engineers, data scientists, even cyber security expertise. 

To make the situation tougher, before, we are just competing among our own insurance industry for certain kinds of talent such as actuaries.  But in today's world, such talents are highly sought after by other companies like Amazon, Google or Alibaba as they realised these talents can be a great addition to their team especially on large data projects and they can be easily converted to data scientists too.

And in our current era, the potentials and attractiveness of AI, and data related courses means that specialised fields of studies which also requires similar skillsets, such as Actuarial, may be losing its momentum.

Outside of the insurance sector, what is your take on the understanding and recognition of insurance as a critical form of risk management tool, be it for individuals, families, businesses and even governments?

Beyond the insurance industry, I can see that there are still a handful of people, organizations or even government agencies who don't see insurance as a form of risk management or even a solution provider.  Through COVID however, things got slightly better as those with insurances benefited much more during this crisis as compared to those who did not, and more people started to see the benefits of insurance and using it as a form of risk management not just for saving or simple protection.

In recent years, with climate changes, more and more of catastrophic risks are becoming uninsurable.  This is mainly due to the increased magnitude & frequency of losses which made insurances either too expensive or worst case, no insurance company will dare to provide any cover, knowing that they are going to incur great losses.  Let's take Florida's flood as an example, the magnitude and frequency were both getting higher, making it almost impossible to provide coverage but I do see a possibility, that if there is proper work-through between the private and public sector, there might be a solution. The insurance industry will have to make the government understand that the insurances they purchased should be part of their risk management strategy, and they should understand why insurance companies are shying away from these risks.  These risks will be very difficult to insure if there is no collaboration between the public and private sectors.

But to get there, there should be more widespread awareness of the value of insurance in the whole ecosystem of risk management. SCOR has a team which works on Public Private Partnerships to bridge the gaps. It will be a matter of time that the government will accept this new partnership and it will be a common topic in many countries, particularly those with uninsurable risks or large protection gaps.

Taking both the talent crunch as well as the broader understanding of insurance that we have discussed above, what do you think GAIP can bring to the table, to support the insurance sector in these areas?

As most of you already know, GAIP is a unique tripartite partnership, having the insurance industry, academia and the regulators under one roof, I certainly see the opportunity for GAIP to bridge many gaps mentioned above.  

For example, it is a great place to bring the industry and academia to resolve the talent crunch, looking into improving the course modules, attachment to industries, and showcasing the attractiveness of this industry.  A good example is the introduction of case study challenges by GAIP which helps to brings some excitements to the students who might eventually be keen to join the insurance industry.

GAIP is also a great platform to bring discussion on the tables between the insurance companies and the government on potentially uninsurable risks and improving the understanding of insurance in modern world; how to make insurance work as an overall protection plan for the government and also be part of their overall risk management strategy.

GAIP's research papers, such as those on protection gaps will also help many to understand what these risks really are and how the government should see insurance as part of their solution to bridge this gap.

Overall, I believe GAIP will do better good and help to close the gaps in the insurance world.

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