11/9/14 On weekday mornings Wendy Sleat makes the journey into Cardiff city and begins the search for new recruits. Based in the Welsh capital, the executive recruitment manager is the middle of a war for talent.
Her insurance company, Admiral Group, not only has to compete with the UK’s Lloyds of London, Aviva and Legal & General, but a host of European financial services firms and Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs, which all want the brightest graduates to lead the growth of their products and services.
There is a talent crisis in the insurance sector. Skills shortages have risen significantly in the last year, according to the Chartered Insurance Institute, the professional body. The CII estimates that 73% of insurance employers report a skills deficit, up 15% on 2013 – and 62% struggle to attract new talent.
Banks have tempted business school graduates away from the insurance corner of the financial services industry, which is in dire need of skilled managers and is starting to look at MBA programs to plug its leaks.
“There has been a strong culture of hiring MBAs, predominantly from INSEAD,” Wendy said in an interview with BusinessBecause. It is easy to see why. Admiral was founded by alumni of the global business school: Henry Engelhardt and David Stevens.
“The attraction is that you get the crème of the crop,” Wendy said. Admiral has broadened its business school roots and is now hiring from schools including Bath, Manchester and SDA Bocconi. “The net isn’t limited,” Wendy adds.
As well as Cardiff-based Admiral, the only FTSE 100 company in Wales, INSEAD is seeing demand from insurance groups Liberty and Zurich, according to Adrian Wu who manages corporate finance partnerships.
He said that MBAs are hired by insurers for general management and internal consulting roles – the latter an area of huge employment growth in 2014.
But it is still a small part of the business school’s finance portfolio and it is a similar problem at other schools across Europe.
Students are more attracted to investment banking and other areas of financial services, according to Martyn Drage, a careers consultant who specializes in finance at UK-based Henley Business School.
“[The] MBA is a hugely untapped market in the insurance sector,” Martyn said. He added that insurance groups have been behind the curve in proactively and aggressively looking to recruit MBA students, and as a result are losing out to competition from banks.
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