If the UK insurance market is to retain its global standing and attract technology-minded staff, then industry-wide diversity strategies and a branding overhaul must be the focus for firms 

By Kelly Ogley 

Kelly Ogley column headshot

Kelly Ogley

Not a week goes by without reading yet another article on the war for talent. When I reflect on this, I think we’ve been talking about it for about 20 years, which is a pretty long war.   

So, why after such a long time are we still struggling? There are some obvious and well documented reasons around the pace of change.  

As an industry, we’re undergoing digital transformation, requiring expertise in data analytics, cyber security, machine learning, artificial intelligence and digital marketing. I remember when the equivalent of search engine optimisation was getting to the front of the insurance section in the yellow pages. 

Gone are the days when we just needed good brokers and underwriters – the talent we now need in order to thrive comes from virtually every discipline.   

We know why the skills we need have changed. What I want to talk about is why we, as an industry, haven’t caught up in terms of recruitment and share a few thoughts on what we can do to bring an end to this so-called war.  

Industry branding 

We talk a lot about employer branding, but I think we also need to address our industry branding.  

Most people I speak to say they fell into insurance – few of us joined the sector as an active career choice, therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve not got a queue of talented people waiting to join.   

We need to dispel the perception that we’re a boring and old-fashioned industry – full of middle-aged men in pinstripe suits – and work together to explain how innovative and exciting our industry is.   

I am guilty of not doing this enough historically, but I have embarked on a programme across the UK to engage with schools and colleges, to educate younger people about our industry and the breath of roles available.   

When attending a recent career day, the pupils had 20 questions to guess what I did for a living. I’m not sure why, but they landed on TV presenter and were therefore somewhat surprised when I said insurance because of their preconceived ideas.   

Unfortunately, what they knew about insurance came from history lessons about the Great Fire of London or conversations involving parents and friends complaining about it. I piqued their interest when I explained that nothing in life happens without the protection of insurance and that if they have a hobby or a passion, we will insure it.  

Growing our own talent 

Are we doing enough to develop talent or are we waiting for the finished article?   

Developing and promoting vocational training and apprenticeship schemes, along with other on the job training initiatives, are great ways to cultivate talent internally and reduce the reliance on external hires. This approach also fosters loyalty and ensures that our teams are culturally aligned.  

Industry bodies do a good job around this when it comes to broking and insurance skills, but we need to do more in disciplines we compete with other industries for, such as data analytics. We also need to work on internal mobility supported by vocational training.   

Some of the best data analysts I know started their career in broking before changing direction, which puts them in a unique position to provide more effective analysis and insights because of their understanding of the nuances of data sources.  

Workforce management 

As an industry, we are experts at data analytics, risk management and forecasting – however, we are either not applying these disciplines to workforce management, or we’re not deploying appropriate strategies to react to these forecasts and emerging skills.   

We need to do more with educational institutions to funnel talent pipelines into the industry, as well as develop our own internal development programmes.  


The scarcity of talent in the areas I’ve mentioned isn’t a challenge that’s unique to the insurance industry – so is the war for talent really with each other, or should we be pooling our collective power to attract talent to our industry?   

What more can we do together to share best practice and collaborate on workforce development and mobility? I’m seeing more examples of businesses working together, but I am certain that if we find a way to magnify this by pooling our resources, we can make a real difference to people actually selecting insurance as their chosen career.  


There’s a lot of really good work happening to attract diverse talent, but I think we should all accept that we are on a journey and have much more to do.   

Without cohesive diversity strategies, we are automatically reducing our appeal and leaving people to choose other industries that feel more captivating or ‘sexy’. We must prioritise our diversity strategies to ensure we are addressing this holistically across all businesses and the wider industry.  

The war for talent is a challenge for the industry, as well as for individual firms – we need to work collaboratively to build effective strategies to end this war.  

If we don’t resolve our industry branding, we won’t attract talent – we need to shout about how sexy our industry is.   

Over the next 10 to 15 years, we are going to see a lot of us oldies retiring, so let’s ensure we are leaving a strong, sustainable legacy to keep the UK insurance market as the best in the world.