The next generation of leaders
In a highly competitive industry the ability to find and recruit the best young talent can be the difference between success and failure. Bermuda:Re+ILS introduces its Rising Stars class of 2020—four of the industry’s under-35s who are tipped for big careers.
To remain at the pinnacle of the global re/insurance industry it is vital that institutions in Bermuda are successfully attracting talented and motivated young candidates. As a relatively small island it operates at a disadvantage to centres such as London and New York in terms of the number of young people it has to choose from when hiring locally.
However, it also has an advantage in that re/insurers face less competition from banks and other industries when competing for the services of the most talented youngsters.
As an increasing number of the baby-boomer generation approach retirement, or have already retired, a steady supply of younger employees with the skills and confidence to work their way up through the ranks is vital to the success of the industry. The issue is now very much at the top of the corporate agenda, as executives recognise the issue will only get more pressing with each passing year.
The industry as a whole has to work hard to present re/insurance as an interesting and rewarding career, while individual institutions have to strive to ensure they secure the best and the brightest before their rivals do. This means being inclusive—reaching out not only to mathematicians but also to those with different backgrounds.
Axis Re’s Richard Quinn notes that people can succeed in re/insurance regardless of what subjects they enjoy and excel at in school.
“The next generations of professionals needs to be adaptive, forward-thinking and creative,” he says.
“This gives young professionals an opportunity to think outside the box, develop meaningful solutions and have a career in the industry best suited for their experiences and skillsets.”
Much has been made of the differences between millennials and previous generations, in terms of their priorities and career goals. Conventional wisdom says millennials look beyond questions of remuneration and career progression, placing huge emphasis on intellectual stimulation and flexibility. In that regard the COVID-19 pandemic has had a silver lining, forcing employers to embrace a level of flexibility that has not traditionally been available.
As Donita Stevens at Argo says: “It’s no secret that millennials seek a healthy work-life balance, and I think the pandemic has shed light on the fact that our industry can provide that balance.
“Working from home options were previously not as flexible as they are likely to be post-pandemic, which I think is a real benefit, not just for millennials but for the industry as a whole.”
COVID-19 has also presented challenges around working practices. The young in particular have suffered from the closure of offices and the loss of opportunities to learn from their more experienced peers.
However, Axis Re’s Tori Smith argues the young are well placed to adapt to their new circumstances.
“We have to appreciate the ways that we have connected and adapted virtually,” she says. “We are still exposed to the expertise and experience of our mentors, just not in the traditional sense.”
Millennials are also said to want to work in an environment where they feel they are contributing to a greater social good—be that reducing inequality or fighting climate change.
Bermuda has led the way in this regard. Its re/insurance community has been proactive in fostering close links with the Island’s schools, ensuring it can clearly communicate why this industry satisfies all these criteria.
Bermudian re/insurers have worked closely with charities and other institutions that pursue social causes, and have started to adapt their businesses to ensure what they do reflects the values of their employees—for example by ending their relationships with high polluting industries.