The insurance market is facing a critical shortage of underwriting expertise, made worse by consolidation in the market, a report by the CII and Ernst & Young has revealed.

The Future of Distribution in SME Commercial General Insurance says that underwriters will have to become more entrepren-eurial, and develop stronger data analysis and portfolio management skills.

The CII is planning a range of initiatives to address the shortfall, including a revamping of its technical training, an underwriting review, further investment into its underwriting and claims academies, and the rolling out of soft skills training in the new year.

The report describes a “perfect storm” of events that have led to a shift in the £9bn sector: the emergence of the consolidators, availability of capital for investment, the soft market, the impact of technology and regulatory uncertainty.

Head of general insurance markets at the CII Lee Gladwell said: “In five years there won’t be enough underwriters to go round. The right people are out there – there are just not enough of them.

“We must re-skill the insurance sector.”

Andy Baldwin, head of insurance at Ernst & Young, added: “The market is becoming more akin to investment management. The distributors must build technical DNA.”

Eighty-eight percent of executives polled saw consolidation as the most significant drive of change in the sector over the next five years.