The five must-have skills every insurance leader needs

November 12, 2019

With the regulatory pressure cooker cooling somewhat, certainly compared with the early part of this decade, insurance firms are starting to focus more on growth and innovation.  Carriers and agents alike are implementing strategies that will see them thrive throughout 2020 and beyond.  However, given that we are now in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, in which digital technologies are becoming embedded in virtually everything we do, investing in the skills needed to maximise the relationship between technology and traditional insurance practices is vital.

In recruiting for insurers for nearly 10 years, here are five key skills carriers and agents alike must pay greater attention to if they wish to stay ahead of the competition. Get them right, and you will win more contracts, meet launch dates, hit quarterly targets and satisfy senior leadership, boards and investors.

  1. Data Storytelling

Data plays a huge role in all modern business, not least due to the vast amounts of information that are now collected from digital interactions every single day. Because there is simply too much data for humans to manage, it’s imperative that companies invest in smart data analytics.

Intelligent data science can record and process information using pre-defined algorithms but someone still needs to extrapolate key points to spot trends, patterns, and client behaviours, not forgetting the person with the skills to define the rules the algorithms follow in the first place. People with “data storytelling” skills allow for accurate predictions and a deeper insight into what the company and ultimately its customer’s may need. For insurance firms, this can mean accurately tailoring a product and upselling other insurance packages automatically.

  1. Cultural Awareness

Digital globalisation has made the world seem smaller than ever as businesses can now reach customers from around the world without necessarily needing to set up physical premises in these territories.

Your customers are influenced by cultural heritage and any business, which fails to cultivate the multicultural makeup of their customer base (and modern society) will miss sales forecasts and lose revenue.

Promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive team which reflects modern society is therefore integral for ongoing business growth.

  1. Critical Thinking

While the digital age has changed many aspects of business, the most telling issue is that businesses need to develop strategies that evolve to meet changing criteria, expectations, and possibilities. Consequently, the ability to solve problems through critical thinking should be considered an essential skill set for insurance companies.

Whether analysing data or presenting new proposals, the ability to weigh up the pros and cons in an unbiased manner is vital. This will help insurers achieve the right outcomes time and time again, whether it’s considering a new marketing strategy, the risks involved with new product launch or moving to a new target operating model.

Critical thinking reduces risk and ensures that time and money are invested smartly.

  1. Emotional Intelligence

Critical thinking is a skill that can be supported by technology.  AI and machine learning, for example, allow computers to process data in a way that is not restricted by algorithms.  But the human element is still a crucial ingredient in any successful recipe for growth, perhaps even more so because of the increase in remote-based interactions such as video, email, IM and social media.

What if the problem you’re trying to solve is not data related but people related?  Understanding people, not just in terms of management but appealing to your customers, is a valuable skill set to have on any team and in any business for that matter.

  1. Cognitive flexibility

The ability and willingness to learn new things quickly is vital to growth and success, and insurers who avoid new ideas will become at best stagnant and at worst irrelevant. 

Promoting a diverse and inclusive culture, that allows your people to think “outside the box” and bring new ideas to the table, becomes redundant if you’re not hiring people with the right cognitive skills in the first place. Don’t be the next Blockbuster, Kodak or Thomas Cook.

The technology landscape is continuing to evolve at a rapid rate, and you and your team need to adapt to remain relevant over the next 10 years.

For more information please click here for some ideas on how you can guarantee better hiring decisions.

Or for a more in-depth discussion on how to incorporate the above skills into your hiring process please email Nikki Newton at

See more market insights or view our knowledge hub.

Featured Content