Risk Insider: Joe Tocco

Disrupting the Insurance Talent Conundrum

By: | September 26, 2017

Currently AXA XL's Chief Executive of North America P&C, 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.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]