Digitisation is driving a recruitment boom in Hong Kong’s insurance sector as companies look to new hires to help them transform their operations.
Gary Wong, Head of Insurance at ConnectedGroup, explains that the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered two trends, both of which are causing firms to increase their headcounts.
On the one hand, the pandemic has highlighted to consumers the importance of having the right insurance cover in place, whether this is health protection or savings products, leading to increased demand.
At the same time, it has increased the momentum of digital transformation in the sector, as social distancing rules pushed companies to adopt digital technologies, particularly on the distribution side of their businesses.
Wong points out that change is happening at an accelerated pace, with companies changing more in the past 18 months than in the previous three to four years.
After a subdued year in 2020, insurers are now increasing their headcounts as they set up new teams to oversee their digital transformation.
“We are definitely seeing a significant bounce-back in the insurance market in terms of recruitment activities for both new and replacement headcounts,” Wong says.
He adds that talents with strategy, change and transformation skillsets are particularly sought after.
Alongside digital transformation, Wong has also observed a shift among insurers to be more proactive, rather than reactive, in the way they interact with their customers.
He explains that instead of simply reimbursing policyholders for medical claims, there is a growing trend among insurers to help their customers manage their health and wellness.
Insurers are doing this through the provision of apps and wearable devices from monitoring the number of steps customers take each day to providing daily healthy eating plan, with policyholders rewarded with premium discounts for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“This approach will shape how insurers develop their products going forward, with the introduction of more wellness apps,” Wong says.
Unsurprisingly, this shift is also driving recruitment trends, with companies looking to fill roles on the product development side, including technology developers with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) experience.
Wong adds that artificial intelligence/machine learning and data analytics also play a key role in helping customers manage their health, and as a result demand for professionals with skills in this area will continue to increase among insurers in the coming few years.
He points out that for the strategy, change and transformation roles, companies are open to hiring people who are not from an insurance background, if they have other financial services experience, such as working in banking, fintech or even consulting firms.
“This year we are seeing that clients are being more flexible in terms of taking people from outside of the insurance sector. When you look at strategy, change and transformation, these are all skillsets that are transferable across the financial services sector,” Wong says.
ConnectedGroup has specialist teams that focus on different segments to enable it to offer clients industry expertise and targeted market intelligence.
Wong explains: “Having a single focus allows us to dive deeply into the industry and really understand our clients’ business and give advice that goes beyond just recruitment.”
Wong, who joined ConnectedGroup earlier this year, brings with him a wealth of knowledge about life and general insurance, as well as reinsurance and asset management.
He has more than 10 years’ experience in recruitment, starting his career with a large international recruitment firm, moving on to a smaller boutique search firm covering Asia, before joining ConnectedGroup.
He has worked in both Hong Kong and Singapore, and as a result is able to advise clients on the talent landscape across the region.
ConnectedGroup prides itself on offering a highly personalised service to its clients.
Wong says: “We always tell clients we operate as a big boutique. We are large enough to serve our clients across a range of functional and industry sectors but also specialised enough to give a high level of attention and engagement on every search.
“No matter whether we are dealing with clients or candidates, it is our goal to be remembered for exceeding expectations, so we truly care and try to understand clients’ needs, and our candidates long-term career goals before giving professional advice.”
Wong thinks it is a good time for financial services talent to think about making a move to the insurance sector.
“Most insurers are falling behind the banks in terms of digitisation. There is a lot of room to grow and change the industry, it just needs the right talent. There are many robust opportunities within insurance at this time,” he says.