Hong Kong’s insurance sector feels the changes of digitalisation.

The Digital Age

In Hong Kong, transformation, change and technology have been common themes the country’s insurance industry according to Hays. Forces within and outside the territory are drastically shaping what is arguably one of the biggest insurance hubs in the world. Hays says this translates into exciting times for the industry, but not without the effects of disruption.

While traditional roles remain critical to the operations – such as underwriting, claims and servicing, alongside sales and distribution positions – candidates will need to keep on their toes to seize the abundance of opportunities. Those who do not may risk being left behind in view of the global and local regulatory changes, the boom of data science and continuing rise in InsurTech.

Other areas with the greatest candidate demands are as follows:

• Compliance, Audit and Risk experts
• Data Scientists
• Project Managers, IFRS 17

“In the face of changing market changes, technological advancements and evolving skill set demands in the insurance sector, candidates should by no means become complacent. Keeping up with consumer trends and constantly upskilling is key to staying relevant in the ever-changing world of insurance,” says Jason Kwong, manager at Hays Hong Kong.

On the international front, a global change in reporting standards has resulted in the issuance of IFRS 17 by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). As such, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) has approved HKFRS 17: Insurance Contracts, identical to IFRS 17, which is slated to come into effect in 2021. Candidates with knowledge or experience in IFRS 17 will be highly sought after over the next few years. Due to its relative newness and the candidate shortage in this area, the current workforce may need to upskill or reskill to keep pace with the market.

Locally, the newly introduced risk-based capital (RBC) regime, which is set to come to full force in 2021-2022, is resulting in the way insurers manage and assess risk, thereby requiring a greater number of both compliance, audit & risk experts to implement these changes.

As InsurTech within companies develops at an accelerated speed, the rate at which tech talent and risk managers is in demand is outpacing supply. This shortage in skilled talent is posing a challenge to Hong Kong’s insurance industry as a contender on the international playing field.

To add, insurance players have been heatedly competing to provide customised products in response to increasingly demanding customer needs. Data science therefore continues to play a critical role in this endeavour. Data scientists with experience in deep-learning and machine-learning are therefore highly coveted by insurers because of the growing importance of data-led strategies in cross-selling, up-selling and engaging with customers.

To secure the best available talent, we have noticed several trends such as buyouts and sign-up bonuses, alongside the growing receptiveness of talents from different industries like banking, pensions and non-financial institutions.

“There is no better time than the present to begin one’s job search in Hong Kong’s insurance industry for the coming year. At the moment, job seekers may experience more opportunities and greater bargaining power as compared to an increasingly competitive candidate market in Q2 of 2019.”

“As Warren Buffet once said, ‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful’. This could not ring truer for candidates currently in the market who want to make full use of their leverage during their job search” adds Jason.

An overview of what other trends have been observed in Hong Kong’s insurance sector can be viewed below:

• According to a report by the South Morning China post, Hong Kong’s insurance industry, currently a 90,000-persons strong workforce, is facing a dire shortage of manpower mainly due to the lack of fresh graduates and new entrants into the industry. In the coming year, another 3,107 vacancies in the sector will need to be filled.

• Another monumental change IA made in late 2018 was to raise the standards for insurance intermediaries in Hong Kong. IA’s aim is to impose stringent standards on insurance professionals and ensure that they are “fit and proper” by assessing their qualifications or experience. In other words, should an individual be deemed “unfit”, the IA would then revoke or reject his/ her licence at their discretion.

• Owing to this talent-short market, employers have been stepping up their game to retain talent. Initiatives such as job rotation and a heightened emphasis in learning and development have been in place to motivate employees and broaden their skill sets.

• Insurance employers have been also painting clear career paths for employees while paying closer attention to KPIs and keeping them on track for promotion. Performance appraisals have also been more structured in their design to nurture employees and boost their morale.

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