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First published in  Insurance Day.Attracting and retaining top talent has always been a priority for the London market, and indeed the market’s reputation has been built on the depth of technical expertise and knowledge based here.But with so much change knocking on the industry’s door, from Brexit to technological advances and changing insurance models, the market needs to consider evolving its working practices if it is to continue to attract the right talent to deliver a service that responds to our clients’ fast-changing needs.The Deloitte report Talent in the London Market identified challenges we will face in ensuring the market is fit for the future. It raised some strategic questions that need to be asked, which may challenge our established modus operandi.
Only by having the brightest and best talent will we ensure the London market remains a pre-eminent global insurance hub.
Over the past few months the London Market Group (LMG) has undertaken some great work in selling the London market to a new generation of talent. Initiatives include participating in careers events in conjunction with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the launch of @londoninsurancelife on Instagram and Facebook, both of which are demonstrating the range of exciting career opportunities the market offers to school leavers and graduates.The LMG has also supported the CII, the Lloyd’s Market Association and Lloyd’s with their apprenticeship levy preparation work, with a view to attracting top talent on to apprenticeship schemes. The LMG is also participating in an intern scheme with the East London Business Alliance.Think the unthinkableThese initiatives are a good start, but we need to consider how the market will operate in five, 10 and 15 years’ time and identify what talent will be needed.I am confident London will remain an innovative market for risk, but it needs to understand its role in a world where increasingly business models are being disrupted and new players and markets are stepping up. Ultimately, retaining top talent will allow the market to remain relevant.To date, the London market has resisted a lot of the changes other industries have undergone. This situation has enabled many quaint working practices to be retained and has perpetuated a misplaced assumption the market is immune to external pressure and change. These assumptions need to be challenged if we are to make progress.Demographic upheavals are resulting in a broader spread of ages working across the market, which can only be a good thing because it brings diverse views and skill sets, which in turn fosters varying approaches and outcomes.I heard an interesting statistic recently. Of the children entering primary school this year, 65% will be working in careers that have not yet been invented. Is this so surprising when you think about the rate of change experienced since the millennium and the speed at which web-enabled businesses have developed and grown?It is predicted millennials will make up three-quarters of the global workforce by 2025, so considering their career aspirations and how they see themselves working will be essential to the market’s future success. Millennials have different expectations of their working life, with many looking for quick career progression and, at the same time, wanting a better work/life balance and flexible working practices.Gone are the days you stayed with one firm throughout your working career. I recall people used to think regularly changing jobs was a negative thing and a sign someone was “flaky”. The same people also expected to retire at the age of 60, anticipating working life would span around 40 years. That, however, is not the case with young people starting out on their career today. Their retirement age is likely to be 75, which means they face more than 50 years of working life.Over their career, they are less likely to stay with one employer as they recognise, to be successful, they need to experience several roles and potentially work overseas to hone their skills if they are to progress their career in a global and highly competitive employment marketplace. The millennial generation are very tech-savvy and are happy to challenge the value of the laborious working practices that have been accepted in the market for many years without question.New ways of workingIf we are to continue to attract the best of the world’s talent we need to start to consider new ways of working, possibly with a more flexible approach to working hours and job sharing. We also must sell the market more effectively, to demonstrate to ambitious young people that it offers great opportunities for them to have a fulfilling career.Market modernisation will inevitably result in some roles disappearing and others being created.  Artificial intelligence will impact the insurance industry in the next decade, significantly disrupting existing business models. No one is suggesting that humans will not have a role to play in insurance in the future, but many roles could be automated. Firms will require a workforce with different skill sets to those we need today. The challenge will be how to retain talent and focus that talent on multi-disciplinary roles.It is only by working together and recognising the areas where further work needs to be done that we can ensure the London market is, and continues to be, an employer of choice for great talent – from as wide a variety of sources as possible. The LMG can play a unique role by working with the market to consider and map out what the short-, medium- and long-term talent requirements might look like.At the heart of this work will be the need to assess how we blend the knowledge and experience inherent in the London market with the benefits offered by evolving skills such as technology and data analytics. Only by having the brightest and best talent will we ensure the London market remains a pre-eminent global insurance hub.
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