Hong Kong’s insurance industry is in the midst of dramatic change following the creation of a powerful new regulatory agency and a shift towards digitalization, with both factors encouraging an increasingly dynamic recruitment market.
According to Dean Stallard, Managing Director for Hays in Hong Kong, these tectonic shifts are both highlighting and perpetuating the talent shortfall within the industry, and is manifesting itself in a hunt for candidates in three key areas: audit risk & compliance, transformation, and distribution.
The authorities of the newly installed Hong Kong Independent Insurance Agency (IA) came into effect from June this year, and one of their primary regulatory roles is to stem the flow of capital to Hong Kong, as Mainland Chinese continue the trend of increased insurance purchase from the territory.
“We have already seen restrictions coming into effect such as caps on how much can be brought into Hong Kong,” said Dean. “However, there has always been a demand for Mainland Chinese to invest abroad due to the perceived comparative safety.”
“As such, we can expect to see insurers becoming aggressive and innovative when it comes to finding ways around such regulations. Eventually some kind of equilibrium will be found, but insurers will still discover ways to meet the demand.”
Since the financial crisis of a decade ago, institutions have been changing how they look at compliance and risk and planning for potential reforms, but the implementation of IA has increased the demand in this area, as companies accommodate for what may come in the future.
“The new regulatory body is also likely to affect how products are sold, so anything product related is highly in demand, with product managers particularly sought after.”
While other international insurance hubs such as London, Berlin and New York have embraced the digitalization of the industry, for now Hong Kong is lacking behind in terms of InsurTech, but there is of course a great interest in transforming to a leaner, more cost efficient business model. While some companies are taking the initiative, others are not yet following suit.
The overall skills shortage means that now is a good time for candidates to inquire after new roles or improve their working conditions, according to Dean.
“Insurance is an attractive proposition for new candidates in Hong Kong. It is traditional, but very stable and there is a high competition for candidates. This means that they can be proactive, as the market is booming and there is confidence in the economy right now.”
“Candidates right now are in a strong position, and will continue to be so for the coming year.”
Hays also found that employers are becoming particularly aggressive in recruitment, with employer branding continuing to be important for the more established players and more medium-sized firms promoting their ability to offer more flexibility and a quicker career progression.
Insurers are actively seeking out people managers, candidates who can lead teams of five and above. Companies are not finding these leaders in house, where lateral movement is becoming more and more entrenched and existing skillsets are being put to new roles as opposed to the roles leading to upskilling.
Employers are increasingly looking outside of the insurance industry to other tech-savvy industries such as banking; particularly when it comes to roles related to customer experience, digital products and developing lean strategies.
There has been an increase in demand for jobs improving the overall customer experience. This skills gap is being plugged by people from other sectors such as banking who are being brought to insurance to mine their expertise.