Canadian Underwriter

How important is non-insurance talent for MGAs?

November 29, 2018   by Jason Contant

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Looking outside the insurance industry appears to be a tried-and-true approach to recruiting talent, executives of managing general agents said Tuesday at the’s MGA Technology Symposium in Toronto.

“We’ve had success actually looking for people with skills, rather than for people with insurance experience,” said David Cook, president of ENCON. “We often say we have experienced people within our shop that we can teach insurance, but you need the people skills, the technology skills, and the like. We’ve also, particularly on the claims side, had good success in hiring people with experience in the type of businesses we are insuring: lawyers, engineers and engineering technologists.”

Panelist David Harris, chief operating officer of Angus-Miller Insurance Ltd., echoed the approach. “We’ve always found the best approach is to seek out qualified young people and find people with energy and drive and try to bring them into the fold. Over the years, we’ve had great retention of those staff.”

Recruiting from the local community college is another technique. Harris said in the last three years, the MGA has hired “five young, bright, energetic and, I think, very qualified people. They’ve been willing to learn and we’ve been able to embed them into our culture.” The MGA has also been fortunate in that a number of senior staff have been able to train the young hires. “For us, that’s been the best source of talent in our region,” said Harris, whose business is based in Saint John, N.B. “It’s not as easy to go out and choose from a wide-ranging marketplace of insurance professionals.”

Using employment recruiting firms and hiring new Canadians are other approaches, said Gary Hirst, president and CEO of CHES Special Risk.

Flexibility of working hours is an important consideration in choosing where to work, particularly for Millenials, the Insurance Institute of Canada’s said in its recent Demographics of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada report. It found more than one-third of employees in the Canadian P&C industry work remotely.

“Because I’m getting old and crusty, I’m not very flexible on that stuff,” Hirst conceded, saying that sometimes employees might be “more concerned about working from home than working for the company. You can’t build culture with people sitting at home with the TV on.”

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