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IFRS 17 is Heralding a New Era in Senior Finance

16 February 2018

by Jessica Williams

As more and more global insurers look to scale-up their IFRS 17 compliance functions, we are seeing some interesting activity.

In lieu of promoting from within, insurers from across the FS space are seeking external senior finance specialists to facilitate the latest phase of the IFRS programme: IFRS 17. The only trouble is, a tangible skills shortage has been identified in the process, as part of a job market that cannot answer rising demand through conventional recruitment strategies.

To put this issue into context, most IFRS 17 roles stipulate that candidates need comprehensive knowledge of financial reporting, stakeholder management and insurance accountancy. This is on top of a broader understanding of the actuarial function, as well as systems-related project management. In reality, very few individuals possess a skill set so comprehensive, making it difficult to find effective leaders within this space.

“IFRS 17 is proving complex for hiring in financial reporting remits because the new standard represents unchartered territory for insurers. The only certainty thus far is that it will be major and costly implementation, so insurers want to get it right,” reports Alyson Andrews, Associate Director, Finance, Audit, Risk and Compliance. “Many candidates may have experience in some relevant areas, but ultimately, the calibre and depth required across the board for these projects is rare.”   

Alyson also comments that some clients are requesting project managers within the change environment, “not realising that this approach can produce mixed results”. Typical process improvement methodologies don’t always transfer to the insurance sector because there are so many risks unique to this landscape. “In fact, the most successful IFRS 17 functions prioritise project leads with accounting policy and reporting backgrounds. We’re also looking at candidates with IFRS 9 experience, financial change knowledge, and evidence of nimble response to changing parameters, since the finer details of IFRS 17 are not set in stone yet.” Established multinationals are placing professionals from Big-4, advisory and banking backgrounds, exemplifying how wide the net needs to be cast to find suitable candidates.

Oliver James has a comprehensive network of global C-suite talent to answer need within the insurance market, though we recommend that businesses be practical about the ideal candidate profile. “If you can find an individual that fits most of your key criteria, don’t let them slip through the cracks. This market is incredibly competitive and candidate-short, and you are facing a hiring context that will continue to fluctuate as the regulatory framework develops. At present, no senior finance professional is the finished article in IFRS terms.”

With 16 years’ experience recruiting into the FS space, Oliver James knows the landscape well, and is best-placed to support candidates looking at IFRS roles. “This is a fantastic growth market for the right finance professional, offering attractive remuneration, huge scope for progression and new regulatory challenges.” One of the other key benefits is enhanced market equity, as Alyson states “IFRS 17 is still in its inception for many insurers, so gaining that experience now will certainly increase your future worth as the next stages come into practice.”

For further details on IFRS 17, including the best routes to hire, please contact Alyson Andrews on +44 (0) 203 861 9160 or

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