Risk Insider: Joe Tocco

Disrupting the Insurance Talent Conundrum

By: | September 26, 2017 • 2 min read
Currently Chief Executive of the Americas for XL Catlin’s insurance operation, Joe Tocco has enjoyed three decades in the insurance industry at various organizations. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served as a nuclear field service engineer. He can be reached at [email protected]

Let’s face it; we’re aging. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an estimated 50 percent of the current U.S. workforce will reach retirement age by 2030. That’s just 12 years away.

And the insurance industry is not alone, many industries will feel it. Pharmaceuticals and construction have the largest talent gaps according to BLS stats. In a recent Risk Insider, Dan Holden of Daimler Trucks North America noted impacts to the manufacturing sector.

The insurance industry faces a talent gap of nearly 400,000 vacancies by 2020 — just two years from now. Only 25 percent of our workforce is under the age of 35, and a significant talent gap exists between the ages of 35 and 55. Hence, our highly competitive marketplace with ample capacity and ample market players lacks an ample supply of new talent.

I see some hope on the horizon though. For one, there are currently 64 colleges/universities with risk management and insurance programs, up from 43 in 2010.

I also recently interviewed a prospective job candidate who was finishing up her MBA at Harvard. We discussed her dissertation focused on disrupting the insurance industry. Turns out many of her classmates were focused on the same thing — disrupting an industry we’ve worked our whole careers to build.

A friend of mine recently told me a story about an insurance colleague whose children asked him what he did for a living. After careful thought he responded, “I am a superhero.”

Changes in technology, consumer needs and expectations are taking aim at traditional insurance business models. We’re seeing how numerous Insurtech startups are starting to change business models in our industry.

And, while it may have felt a little unnerving at first, it’s breathed a new sense of urgency into our work which is really needed, not only to boost our relevance in the current marketplace but to also heighten our significance among tomorrow’s workforce.

Now more than ever, the insurance industry offers more opportunities for individuals with diverse skill sets — math, actuarial, technology, science, data and statistics. But other industries are vying for these skill sets too. How will we compete?

A little more disruption could help. We need to disrupt the perception of our industry.

A friend of mine recently told me a story about an insurance colleague whose children asked him what he did for a living. After careful thought he responded, “I am a superhero.”

He explained that anytime there is any kind of a disaster anywhere in the world, he is there to help everyone; to protect; to rebuild; to put the pieces back together.

I chuckled at first, but the idea began to resonate with me. Think about it. If we think more highly of our industry and our role in it, we can change how our industry is perceived.

We don’t need superhero capes. We do need to find ways to share our superhero stories widely — especially to the next generation — to let them know that a career in the insurance and risk management industry can be a worthwhile one that even borders on exciting.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession: Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?


Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?


A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]