Talent May Be The Industry’s Biggest Challenge, LIMRA Chief Says
The challenge of recruiting, retaining and developing talent may be the biggest challenge the life insurance industry faces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, LIMRA President and CEO David Levenson said.
In his remarks kicking off the LIMRA virtual annual conference on Tuesday, Levenson said the industry remains adaptive and resilient throughout the challenges of the past year and a half, and that it will emerge stronger.
The “Great Resignation” is having an impact on financial services, Levenson said. About 17% of the industry’s employment base has been hired since the start of the pandemic, and carriers must be able to train and develop those new employees in the midst of hybrid and remote work. Meanwhile, the industry must find talent to replace those workers who are looking to retire or change jobs.
Levenson looked back to his remarks at the start of the 2019 LIMRA annual conference, when he listed the challenges he saw the industry facing then. They included: consumer expectation, technology, the financial markets, globalization, supply and regulation.
A year later, as COVID-19 spread throughout the world, the industry faced additional challenges, Levenson said. They included: low interest rates, high mortality rates, digital processes, social distancing, increased demand and remote work. The industry responded.
“Our member companies did an outstanding job implementing and accelerating automated underwriting,” he said. “The industry provided advisors with the tools to interact with consumers and prospects digitally and remotely.”
One positive dynamic that emerged from the pandemic is an increased consumer interest in life insurance. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (31%) surveyed by LIMRA said they were more likely to buy life insurance because of COVID-19.
“The surge in demand was an incredible plus for our industry but we still had to figure out how to reach these consumers,” Levenson said. “In addition, within a matter of weeks, we had to transition to a work-from-home environment.
“Our industry rallied – we were resilient. We took care of our customers, we took care of our employees and our industry became even stronger financially. Compare that with other businesses that were shutting down or unable to meet the demands of their customer base during that same time.”
Looking ahead, the industry faces two more challenges in addition to the talent challenge, Levenson said. Increased mergers and acquisitions in the industry as well as an increase in private equity in the life/annuity space are new challenges.
“It’s a whirlwind - there’s so much going on,” he said. “But it’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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