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Insurance jobs hold firm Back
Actuaries, compliance experts, finance and project managers are increasingly being sought
It would be true to say that insurance companies have managed better than banks in the current economic turmoil. There are a few reasons for this. Insurance companies have not allowed themselves be exposed to one market sector. They underwrite across all industries and insure many different kinds of risks. They also have had to maintain reserves to protect policy holders in the event of claims. The fact they also reinsure the business should dilute the overall exposure.

That is not to say that the insurance sector has been undamaged during this period. AIG and Quinn are names that could easily suggest otherwise. Should you examine the core issues around these firms that caused their problems it is easy to suggest that it was their involvement with the banking sectors that got them into difficulty. We must also remember that many companies that sought insurance in the past no longer exist and many clients have difficulty in finding income to pay bills that includes insurance premiums. Therefore premium income is down and due to the banking crisis investment income is also not generating the returns that were enjoyed in the past.

The insurance industry has seen redundancies but not at the same scale as the banks. We are not expecting any significant job layoffs in this sector going forward unlike banking. When we hit the initial downturn in the market we did see the brokers letting some people go but what we mainly observed was a salary reduction in the range of 10 per cent to 20 per cent in this area. Insurance companies did not react in the same way. They in the main appeared to halt new recruits, not replace in any great number people leaving or deployed personnel to key business areas. Up until the downturn we saw a good number of companies set up in Dublin each year to establish operating businesses either as a standalone company offering a pan-European model such as captives or freedom of service companies. This has slowed down significantly.

Similar to banking, regulation, compliance and risk is having a big impact. Solvency II is creating a demand for staff that will increase employee numbers. Actuaries, compliance experts, finance and project managers are increasingly being sought and they are starting to enjoy the benefits of being in demand. Many companies have said that they are concerned about the lack of actuaries in Ireland to fulfil this task.

Salaries in the greater employing sections within insurance, such as underwriting, claims and customer services have in fact held firm over the last few years. I do not expect to see them rise very much in the coming years.

One area that is causing concern is the shortage of starting positions in the industry. Insurance like all other sectors are not hiring trainees. The investment in talent across all businesses has gone out the window and the lack of this future expertise could cause problems.
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