OJ Insight with Harriet Jenkins | Underwriting & Claims careers in Asia-Pacific

OJ Insight with Harriet Jenkins | Underwriting & Claims careers in Asia-Pacific

17 February 2021

by Steph Teece

Creative and resourceful, Harriet is our Singapore Associate Director and specialises in C-suite, Underwriting, Claims, Broking, P&I, and FDD opportunities across the Asia-Pacific Insurance market. In today's blog, Harriet offers her insight into how you can ensure you have a fulfilled and successful career in Underwriting and Claims.

Claims - Breadth v’s depth of experience

Across Asia-Pacific, we have seen a steady increase in the demand for market-facing claims experts. Now, because of technology, claims handlers may be the person taking the call, assessing your claim, and sending out your settlement cheque, so there is a real mix of skillsets needed.

At the basic levels, businesses are looking for candidates with a balance of soft skills and technical skills to manage this move to a 360’ claims management environment. At more strategic and senior levels, they desire claims leaders who can stand up at C-suite or in an advocacy capacity with external stakeholders and impress and influence and have the depth of knowledge required on the technical side.

Now more than ever, businesses are looking for candidates with multiple skillsets. They want people who can ensure everything runs smoothly, can identify snags, efficiencies, and improvements to be made in the systems from the first notification of loss to settlement. If you can broaden your knowledge around technologies, this could give you a competitive advantage over the market.

If you are open to new opportunities, my advice would be to dial into webinars, keep up with trends, and join cross-functional working groups. If you are interested in working in Insurtech, attend mixers and network with like-minded people in your industry as this is a great way to get out there, and you never know what opportunities could arise.

The claims space in Insurance has historically been quite structured and linear when it comes to career paths; however, the industry is increasingly moving away from this traditional structure of progression. At a leadership level, businesses are often looking for breadth of experience rather than depth. If you have spent ten years specialising in one area of expertise and would like to focus on another area, then you need to diversify your experience.

For example, if you are a financial lines claims specialist and you would like to become a Head of Claims in the future, it is more difficult for you to do this unless you have a wider breadth of experience. You will therefore need to take a sidestep in your career, take an initial financial hit, and invest in your professional growth for 2-3 years. This might sound like a big sidestep, but the key is timing. Take the leap early on in your career when the financial implication will be lower, and it will stand you in good stead for the future.

We are seeing a shortage of FINPRO and M&A transactions lawyers, so if you fall into one of these categories and are considering your next move, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Underwriting - Areas of growth

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a lasting effect on economies across the world, and as such, epidemic and pandemic risk will naturally be an area of growth for Insurance. Subsequently, an increase in dedicated brokers and underwriters specialising in Pandemic Risk is expected as businesses put contingencies in place for the future, and the coverage clauses are written out of standard policies.

Cyber and Business Interruption insurance, particularly cyber, will also grow as the world continues to digitize at rapid pace. In the past six months, we have seen the first death due to the use of ransomware in a cyber-attack at a hospital in Germany, and we will see more of these critical attacks happening in various guises and across every industry.

Businesses need to be increasingly savvy in the depth and breadth of coverage they have in the cyber space. They will need to take out sophisticated standalone policies rather than rely on the bolt ons of past times for their complex coverage needs.

In the last 10-20 years, there has also been a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about sustainability. There is a growing interest in this space within insurance and a death of senior talent in this area. Whilst embryonic, Renewable Energy is thankfully an area of growth in the Asia markets as we start to see a shift away from the more traditional power stations run by fossil fuels and instead move towards alternative eco power generation: wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal.

The Singapore Renewable Energy/Power market is notoriously candidate short; both in Underwriting and Broking. If you have experience, particularly in offshore windfarms, please do get in touch as this is a highly desirable skillset.

Underwriting is a great career choice for those wishing to transition from a more vocational career into Financial Services. One of my favourite ways of describing the Insurance industry is ‘there is a line of Insurance for everyone’. If you are a petrol head or worked in the auto industry, there is Motor. If you are a pilot or have worked with the airlines as a surveyor or engineer, there is Aviation. If you have been a ship’s captain, there is Marine. You will always find an area that aligns with your interests.

If you would like any advice on your Insurance career, please feel free to reach out to me at Harriet.Jenkins@weareoliverjames.com