Believe it or not, there is a sector of financial services which is generating more job opportunities than before the financial crisis.
The life insurance industry has hit the hiring button as a recession-weary public seek to safeguard their wealth. Life insurance sales in Australia jumped nearly 6% in Q4 2008, according to preliminary figures from research house Plan for Life. And leading insurer ING reports a 25% rise in its sales for Q1 2009, compared to Q1 last year. “The trend increase in life insurance sales reflects the increasing concern Australians have with the current economic environment and their need to protect existing wealth,” says Gerard Kerr, head of products, marketing and reinsurance for ING Australia’s life risk division. And with more policies being sold, more jobs are being created. “There’s been a 100% increase in available roles compared to this time last year.
This uptake really began in Q4 of 2008 and it’s been mainly growth hires,” says Sarah Wapling, a practice leader at Link Recruitment. And it seems that vacancies are rising across the various types of organisations which sell life policies – from specialist insurance firms and retail banks (CBA’s CommInsure subsidiary has the largest market share), to super funds and boutique financial planning firms. These institutions are hiring for a wide range of roles, including front-line salespeople, underwriters and business development mangers, says Wapling.Back-office jobs, especially those with specialist accounting skills, are also in demand, according to Brad Shotland, associate director, financial services at Michael Page. But accountants in banks be warned, you need an insurance background to land a job in this sector.
“Employers are generally looking for accountants who’ve already worked in insurance, but they will consider taking people from the Big Four accounting firms who have audited insurance companies,” says Shotland. Insurance experience is becoming more important for financial planners too. Wapling explains: “In the past, most financial planners saw life insurance only as an ‘add-on’ to more important products like superannuation and investments.
In the current market, being able to sell insurance has an immediate positive impact on revenue.”But as life insurance-related employment expands in Australia, firms might find it increasingly difficult to source skilled staff. “There’s a shortage of talent because in the past insurance salespeople had a tarnished reputation. This put people off entering the industry, but that’s now gradually changing.”