4 September 2022ArticleAnalysis

Reaching for the stars

“The opportunity to create and review complex programmes and customised solutions is particularly important.”

Anne Marie Towle, Hylant

Talent acquisition and getting the next generation of professionals into the captive insurance industry is vitally important for the future of the industry, as it faces a unique combination of circumstances.Anne Marie Towle, global captive solutions leader at Hylant, said that the captives industry needs to recruit talent—not just experienced existing talent, but also younger professionals, the Millennials, the Generation Zs, who are finishing college and looking at what to do next.Towle stressed that companies need to manage their captive and also provide the staff who work on it with the kind of opportunities and benefits that competitors are creating to try and tempt staff away.“We need to spend the time to train people properly, because we’re at a crucial time in the captives industry, with the hard market coming out of the pandemic—and I don’t think we’re genuinely 100 percent out of COVID-19,” she pointed out. “The opportunity to create and review complex programmes and customised solutions is particularly important for us in the industry.”People are re-evaluating where they are in terms of their insurance, said Towle—they’re not having many losses so they’re not getting the trade-off of their carrier paying claims. So why not take on more of this risk retention themselves? Hylant is seeing a lot of associations and industry verticals where people are looking at group captives and asking how they can be better at risk management.According to Towle, there is currently a hard market in areas such as property insurance, auto liability insurance and even healthcare and medical malpractice insurance. Some of these are becoming larger issues for many organisations that haven’t historically used a captive or a trust and are now looking to explore what makes the most sense. They are looking at how can they take on more of their risk, particularly with companies that haven’t experienced losses or have had very good loss experiences and are seeing significant increases in their in-transfer premiums.As a result of this, Towle said, the retention of talent is going to be very important for the captive insurance industry over the next few years because of this combination of the hard market, the labour shortage and the new hybrid office/work at home environment created by the pandemic, with staff increasingly wanting to work remotely.

Creating opportunities

“What’s important for that retention is creating opportunities where people can expand and work on complex situations and not be stuck where they’re doing the same thing every day,” said Towle.“How can we create opportunities, whether it’s additional education at conferences, or being able to train and teach them to do public speaking and having an opportunity to participate at a conference or one-on-one with client interaction?”She added that Hylant is working on identifying the young talent in US colleges, as graduates who are completing their education look at their working future in the wider world.“We are being very strategic and aligning with several colleges and universities across the country,” she explained. “We’ve aligned with Butler University, which has a very strong risk management and insurance programme, where we’re recruiting talent. We’re speaking as guest lecturers in their classes. We’re also organising with Indiana State, Illinois State, Temple University and a variety of other risk programmes across the country.”Hylant is specifically targeting accounting, finance, and actuarial students, having them come into the company as interns and providing them with an experience of working there to determine if this the correct career path for them.Towle added that when looking at the wider insurance industry, captives can be a very small subset. Hylant’s approach is to work with the talent it identifies, educate them and recruit them for internships or short-term employment opportunities to see if there’s a fit. It’s a win-win in both regards: the recruits can identify a future in insurance and the company can hire them permanently.It’s especially important to hire new graduates at the moment, Towle stressed, as she identified a generation gap in the captives industry—one that needs to be filled.

The Gen-Z advantage

“Generation-Zers who are coming out of college today are about 10 years ahead of when we all graduated, because the level of education they are receiving is specifically targeted in the insurance marketplace,” said Towle.“It’s important to take that talent, with the technology and skillsets they all have, so we can learn from one another. They can step into the market a lot more quickly than sometimes even experienced people.“This allows companies to start training them in the way they prefer. You risk the opportunity that they may go elsewhere but at least you’re heavily invested and you’re creating opportunities for them.”Towle identified the need to transfer the knowledge base within companies, pointing out that many who have been in the industry 30-plus years are now looking at retirement and need to create the next generation that will succeed them. Being able to transfer that knowledge in a way the next generation can grasp in terms of concepts is important because they already have an insurance knowledge base that many current veterans did not have when they graduated college.

“Generation-Zers who are coming out of college today are about 10 years ahead of when we all graduated.”

Vice versa, the graduates can train the veterans, Towle said. Because the former have grown up with technology, they can evaluate things in a different way, and improve and innovate in a way that’s different from the older generation’s approach.“In the general insurance industry, captives are still a small piece of the market in many people's eyes, but I think we’re a powerful voice,” Towle concluded.“The career opportunities this market creates are tremendous. When you think about the different domiciles here in the US and around the world, the captives market creates an opportunity for travel, and for widening your education outside your own state and your own country.“It creates different career paths, whether you want to be an attorney, an accountant, a captive manager, or an insurance carrier. There’s so much opportunity and that’s something that needs to be stressed as we create opportunities for experienced hires and entry-level college graduates.”