The insurance workforce has always been one of the most flexible categories of workers. A report by Boston Consulting Group found that during the pandemic, 75% of employees working in insurance companies worked outside the office some or all of the time, well above the 51% cross-industry average.
As for the insurance industry, the transition from office to hybrid and remote work didn’t faze them at all. After all, most of the employees have been working flexibly before the pandemic or have all the digital tools they need to work from home effectively. It was the speed of digitalisation and changes to reporting standards that did.
Against all odds, insurers are breaking away from their reputation of being “outdated and traditional”, not just with their agility to transform digitally to keep up with the acceleration of digital transformation, but also to remodel the accounting standards for insurance contracts in respect to IFRS 17. According to KPMG, “IFRS 17 will undoubtedly represent the most significant change to insurance accounting requirements in over 20 years”.
IFRS 17, which replaces IFRS 4, is the new insurance accounting standards for clearer and simplified insurance contracts. It aims to modernise practices and processes in insurance accounting to meet the increasing demands from both consumers and regulators for greater transparency, accountability and consistency. Since 2017, many insurers have started making significant investments in both talent and technology to implement operational and financial reporting changes to adhere to the new standards.
As the January 2023 deadline for IFRS 17 implementation draws near, the consultants from Randstad Singapore’s insurance specialist recruitment team share some of their observations and predictions in workforce and talent trends in the insurance industry in Singapore this coming year.
talent trends: boost in hiring demand for actuaries to meet IFRS 17 requirements
We have observed active talent movements within the actuarial space, with many professionals moving on to work on new projects or to assume new job responsibilities as an opportunity to further deepen their capabilities and upskill themselves.
This has driven new talent demand for actuarial managers, specifically to facilitate IFRS 17 implementation and reporting. Insurance companies in Singapore are also building the capabilities of their actuary teams to support new and existing product development and pricing models.
As the implementation deadline approaches, actuary managers will need to collaborate with vendors, actuary project teams and finance teams to fill the gaps in user acceptance testing (UAT). As a result, many insurers are hiring for replacement roles as well as new permanent and contract talent to facilitate IFRS 17 implementation and post-implementation maintenance.
Talent are expected to test and review financial modelling and reporting frameworks on risk management platforms like Prophet or FIS® Insurance Risk Suite. Candidates may also be expected to update the SAS system, which uses machine learning techniques and integration of open source languages to optimise portfolios that are compliant with IFRS 17.
Pricing analysts in the actuary department are required to perform in-depth analysis to understand embedded risks of product pricing strategies in compliance with IFRS 17. This would include the projection and assumption of products’ pricing policies to drive direct profits of the insurance company’s’ portfolio.
While technical skills and big data analytics are a huge part of the job requirements in actuary, many employers are looking for visionaries who are able to see and communicate the big picture. Candidates who are able to work independently and problem solve, as well as communicate their findings and recommendations effectively with key business stakeholders will be highly sought-after.
finance: the rush to comply with IFRS 17 implementation and maintenance
Even though it has been years in the making, IFRS 17 poses a challenge to many financial professionals due to pre-implementation novelty.
Finance professionals are required to understand new complex modelling, disclosure requirements as well as reporting of liabilities and profits under IFRS 17. Early adopters of the IFRS 17 had also raised challenges around meeting year-end reporting timetables due to the sheer complexity of the new standards.
In anticipation of the increasing workload around being able to meet IFRS 17 deadlines, insurers have created new permanent and contracting roles to increase the manpower resources in their financial services teams.
Employers are looking for candidates who have the right combination of technical skills and reporting expertise and understanding of IFRS 17 to assess the implications on the firm’s internal processes and financial performance.
Finance professionals are also expected to effectively partner with actuary and finance teams to manage resources and facilitate change activities. This would mean having great communication skills to explain the changes and post-implementation figures to senior management and regulators to ensure compliance and transparency.
Even as insurers increased their hiring budget for new headcount to focus on IFRS 17 disclosure and reporting requirements, they are also ensuring that BAU teams are being adequately resourced to keep up with the workload. Many employers are already prepared to make replacement hires after bonus payouts this year — a phenomenon that we now know as the great reshuffling.
internal audit: regional consolidation done in singapore for better global efficiency
Besides IFRS 17 keeping everyone working in insurance busy these days, we are observing some changes in the internal audit teams, which could have arisen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past, regional audits were usually performed in each region and reported directly to headquarters. Regional audits in Asia were typically led out of Hong Kong SAR due to the city’s stronghold in the insurance industry. And while Hong Kong SAR remains home to many big Asian insurance players like Allianz, HSBC and AXA, Singapore has become the preferred city to house the Asia Pacific’s regional hub by western insurers.
Singapore’s political stability and strategic location offer global and stable connectivity that is unique to the city-state. The regional teams in Singapore are responsible for running audits for Greater China, Asia and Australasia as well as driving group audit plans allocated by the head offices based in Europe and the United States. Essentially, this creates a very seamless flow of information and directives between the head office and the rest of the world.
As an independent team within the organisation, internal auditors are expected to work within their team to assess business processes and risks and evaluate internal controls on their own. While having regional experience is a bonus, some employers are open to interviewing talent who have an impressive track record in managing local audit projects from start to finish, and possess strong leadership skills and growth potential to fulfil the requirements of a regional role.
It is also critical that candidates demonstrate great stakeholder management and communication skills, as they will often need to present their findings and recommendations as well as answer questions from C-suite executives and head of departments. Qualified internal auditors should also be able to draw conclusions and present independent appraisals of the internal control environment to drive operational improvements and business efficiencies.
post-COVID bonus payouts & salary trends in singapore’s insurance industry
Most insurers are expected to reward their employees with a bonus payout of 2 to 4 months to reflect the positive economic and business recovery of 2021. This is an improvement from the previous year when some work professionals didn’t receive a bonus due to the financial implications of the global health crisis.
Despite the economic recovery, salary increments within the insurance sector have remained rather conservative as most companies are still monitoring the impact of change in the market. Most employees who worked in insurance firms received a 2% to 4% salary increment and those who got promoted received a salary increase of up to 10%.
will the great reshuffling impact your chances of securing a new job this year?
From disappointing salary increments to exciting job opportunities, the reasons why people look for new employers differ significantly. But one thing we know for sure is that insurance companies in Singapore are ramping up their hiring activities and many working professionals will be taking this opportunity to seek a positive change.
Depending on your career goals and personal career expectations, we may know the organisation that’s right for you. Our experienced and specialised recruitment consultants at Randstad Singapore work with some of the biggest names in life insurance, reinsurance and general insurance to source qualified talent in actuarial, risk & compliance, internal audit, finance & accounting, sales & distribution, product development, claims, underwriting as well as operations.
Create an account with us and connect with our recruiters to learn first-hand knowledge of our clients’ hiring requirements, workplace culture and employee benefits or browse our job listing to find out more about our specialty focus in insurance.
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