2021 and 2022 were the best years the executive search business have known, according to the AESC. 2023 has been tougher as several sectors have reduced their hiring ambitions against a backdrop of slower investment and high interest rates. While the first three months of the year were noticeably slower than the same period last year, the market improved in May and June.
These economic factors have impacted insurance recruitment, but capacity remains strong. Private equity investment, particularly in the broking sector, is boosting activity, making this a more comfortable market to operate in.
In this report we look for patterns in senior hiring drawn from the Insurance Insider and our proprietary analytics tool, TALNT. We also look at the patterns of moves across the whole market, evaluating headcount trends across the 10 largest brokers, syndicates and company insurers.
With some amusement I reread my report for Q1 where I wrote ‘Marine is still seeing some movement – there were 12 significant senior-level moves last quarter’. This quarter the number is 28 and this is not a sector impacted by team lifts. We know that Marine underwriters are finally making profits but these numbers are astonishing and surely are not sustainable for much longer.
Other sectors showing vigour are Cyber (10), Energy (9), and Property (6).
Insurer – Marine moves dominate the market
As always there are net gainers and net losers of key staff but the movements in the insurer segment are less dramatic than in broking. Patterns are hard to identify and profitability growth comes from underwriting competence, not building headcount like a broker. Everest continues to grow its teams, employing a new CCO in Europe and strengthening its Marine team in London. AXA has also built out in Marine and Energy.
The real story however is Marine as a class – in Q2 alone there have been reported changes of Marine personnel at Aegis, AIG, Arch, Ascot, Astaara, Aviva, Axa, Axis, Beazley, Chubb, Everest, Hartford, HDI, Liberty, Markel, MS Amlin, North Standard, RSA, Sompo, Swiss Re, Talbot.
Certain parts of the market are evolving quicker than others. Cyber is seeing more innovation, with Cowbell arriving in the UK and building their team under Simon Hughes, previously of CFC.
During Q2 we have also been close to the Renewable Energy market where demand is keen. Many insurers sat on the sidelines for a long time watching profitability and collecting data by supporting MGAs or joining consortia. Now they want to write this line for themselves whether as an extension of a construction book, an add on to an O&G portfolio, a method of retaining business when Power and Energy companies transform their organisations, or as a line in its own right.
Strategies differ but this sector is seeing talent demand outstrip supply. Several insurers seem to have concluded that they can ‘repurpose’ Energy underwriters, particularly where they are following an Energy Transition strategy, but the signs are that salaries will begin to climb in this sector soon and that already scarce talent will only become scarcer.
Looking at the broader picture we are seeing a noticeable drop off in hiring at syndicates both against the same quarter in 2022 and against the pattern year to date. The company market, in comparison, is holding up.
Private equity continues to drive this sector. Teams have been moving, demand is strong, and litigation is on the increase.
That said, with a couple of possible exceptions in the quarter, the acquirers seem to be shopping for talent from a wide range of companies as they build out their teams. Again, the net acquirers are Howden/Tiger, WTW, Miller and BMS while Aon and Marsh still seem to be keeping their powder dry.
Looking at all staff, and allowing for seasonality, hiring in the broking market is continuing much as it has for the last year or so.
Before we get into the hiring patterns in the InsurTech sector let’s not forget that was the quarter when Lemonade settled a claim within two seconds of it getting presented.
The future is now!
It is difficult to align what we’re hearing about the InsurTech sector to what we’re seeing in the job market.
Andrew Johnson of AJG Re, who is the best-informed person we have come across on the subject, talks about huge swings in funding – down 64.4% in Q4 only to bound back by 53.6% in Q1. Pitchbook say that 2023 looks set to be the worst year since 2015 for European VC funds to raise capital.
We also hear from the Insurance Insider that Sirius Point are seeking to exit 36 InsurTech investments. We also read of a very weak IPO market, debt finance being more complicated, and valuations falling.
Despite all this there are several solid InsurTech players keeping their heads down, developing their product and recruiting. None of our clients have collapsed or been forced into salvage sales and, most important of all, they are hiring. Sometimes we wonder if the exponential growth of 2021 was the false reading in a market that has been quietly developing and that will continue to do so.
The data in this report is compiled from a combination of public information and moves made known to us, which are outside instances of client confidentiality. From experience, we know that the data reported is not complete as of the date of publication. This report is based purely on our opinions and insights. Sheffield Haworth shall not, in any way whatsoever, be responsible for your use of the data; the report should be used for information and analysis purposes.
This document may not be reproduced, published, redistributed, or passed onto any third party or any other person, in whole or any part, for any purpose without the prior written consent of Sheffield Haworth. We recommend that this report is not used beyond its intended use.