By Nick Roscoe, Managing Director, Insurance & InsurTech, Sheffield Haworth
The first three months of 2023 have been relatively muted in terms of demand for new senior talent. That said, some parts of the market remain buoyant. For example, Marine is still seeing a lot of movement – there were 12 significant senior-level moves last quarter – and Energy has been more lively.
Cyber seems to have temporarily calmed, which is logical in light of recent stabilising of pricing, although at Sheffield Haworth we are still asked for Cyber candidates more than any other class. This suggests many firms are betting that the current lull is temporary, and that the Cyber market will soon pick up.
There is, yet again, drama in InsurTech. A difficult market has just become much tougher with the much-publicised demise of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The immediate panic has subsided as capital has been protected and salaries are getting paid. However, it now seems that venture debt may become as hard to come by as venture capital.
According to Pitchbook, venture capital was down 60% in the year to January. This will impact much more than just hiring. A recent snap poll we did on LinkedIn showed that there is still confidence in the sector; 40% of respondents believe that the SVB collapse will not impact the sector while 32% believe that it will force a period of consolidation and 24% believe that it will be a major setback to the sector.
There have been rotations of senior level staff over the last three months, but we have not been able to identify any particular insurer that has lost or gained a lot of staff in the quarter. This is interesting in the context of a number of significant changes in stamp and notable readjustment in capacity and pricing in the reinsurance and ILS markets. As ever, Cyber remains of high interest but other hiring seems to be modestly accretive rather than aggressive.
In overall numbers the market remains robust. We looked at hiring patterns across the 10 largest players in the Lloyd’s and the Companies market to evaluate activity levels. While seasonality has an impact, the rate of hiring remains steady:
Number of hires in the Lloyd’s market vs the Companies market from Q2 2022 to Q1 2023
There is a dichotomy in the MGA sector. Despite providers of risk capital muttering about being more sparing, MGAs are definitely on the lookout for talent. We are being asked by an increasing number to find star talent. Although capacity is the perennial concern of MGAs, we are being told that rollover capacity is not a problem, especially in Specialty lines.
It may still be a little early to say this, but although the recent pay round was not good enough to make many happy it has also not been bad enough for people to stampede for the exit.
The most noticeable changes during the quarter were:
- The large number of people leaving the Ardonagh group as it restructures. We have seen 15 seniors leave the group – including a number from Specialty Lines. Consolidation is difficult and this has proved no exception.
- The poaching of around 25 senior staff from Guy Carpenter by Howden Tiger. True to its tagline of being “the world’s fastest growing reinsurance broker”, Howden Tiger have secured the services of Guy Carpenter staff in Milan, London, and elsewhere in Europe, as the company positions itself for growth across the continent. The heads hunted include Guy Carpenter’s European CEO Massimo Reina – a significant coup for Howden, and a potentially significant loss for Guy Carpenter.
Besides these two noteworthy trends, hiring across the broking sector has followed a similar pattern to the previous quarter. Aon and Marsh seem to be relatively quiet, particularly at a higher level, but the rest of the market is still very lively with BMS and Concilium landing a number of good senior hires. BMS CEO Nick Cook plans to triple the size of his organisation in the next five years, which means that purposeful hiring looks set to continue there for some time to come.
After recent comments supporting the Q3 financial results we had expected more announced hires at WTW in the quarter but notice periods have an impact. There are however a good number of people who have left roles in this quarter who have not yet declared where they are going. We suspect a number will appear at WTW.
As with underwriters, the broader market remains constantly lively with moves across the 8 largest UK brokers still strong.:
Number of hires at the UK’s 8 largest brokers from Q2 2022 to Q1 2023
Even before the collapse of SVB, it was heavily reported that the larger tech players such as Google, Meta, etc. were letting go of 290,000 employees. While the headlines focused on the Big Tech giants, there has been a ripple effect throughout the tech industry globally.
Despite this, the InsurTech Insights Conference in early March was full of positivity and remained as popular as previous years, with over 5,000 delegates attending. Then came the SVB collapse, which seems to mean that securing venture debt will now prove as challenging for up-and-coming InsurTechs as venture capital had been throughout 2022.
The tightening of venture debt raises questions about the viability of some ventures in the sector, and yet at Sheffield Haworth we have seen InsurTech clients continue to recruit as before as they continue to build out their businesses. These exciting game changing companies are behaving very much like the mature institutions they are supporting or even challenging, suggesting that many in the sector have reached a sort of critical mass and are able to survive tougher funding conditions.