I welcome the comments made by Jeffrey Bowman (News, 29 September) on the issues facing the loss adjusting industry in recruiting and retaining quality senior management.

It is vital that these issues are addressed and I echo the sentiment that attracting the new generation of professionals directly into the industry will be the key to overcoming the skill shortage.

In the past five years or so the adjusting market has changed dramatically and become more volume process driven. This is where the larger adjusting firms have had their focus, but it requires different and less technical skills than are required for the more complex and high value claims.

Adjusters used to learn their skills by working alongside more experienced colleagues on the more technical or larger losses.

But with the current financial constraints adjusting firms face due to the lack of margin in fees in the volume market, there has been no investment in the stars of the future.

Adjusters who perform well in the process or volume arena and want to develop their careers are now lacking the technical skills to move into the more technical areas.

This has a two-fold impact. Not only are ambitious young adjusters finding it difficult to progress their careers, but employers are faced with a succession planning problem as their experienced experts approach retirement.

This is a challenge facing both the property and the liability markets, where recognised market names are disappearing. Succession planning is important for the survival of any business and a strategic imperative.

We believe that a new approach to succession planning is essential and its implementation will develop the next generation.

Traditionally, the profession has focused on the replacement of senior managers, paying little attention to employees at lower levels.

The way forward is to recruit bright graduates or 'pupils', develop their skills and encourage interaction with peers to enable a focus on providing a high quality, technical product.

We intend to develop our high level recruitment of the next generation of professionals directly into the arena of technical and major loss adjusting, reversing the skills shortage.

Stewart Steel
Managing director