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  • Writer's picturePatrick Flanagan

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

Rachel Coombs (Consultant) reflects on Clarence George's recent visit to Bermuda.

Touching down in Bermuda, it seems hard to believe that such an idyllic island could be home to a thriving and innovative life reinsurance market going from strength to strength.

Here, in a tiny corner of paradise in the North Atlantic Ocean, the pink-sand beaches and pastel houses are home to some of the most exciting and ambitious reinsurers and actuaries. Water-sports and sun-tanning are paired with companies such as Resolution Re, completing an impressive $35 billion reinsurance deal with Allianz Life, and Athene, who have paved the way in the market in partnership with the private equity firm Apollo with their asset-intensive reinsurance deals.

The peaceful feel of the island seems at odds with the aggressive growth of the Bermudan life reinsurance market. Last year thirteen new reinsurers were licensed; and there are another thirteen planned for this year. With an increasing number of asset- intensive players in the market, in contrast to more traditional liability-led captive reinsurers, there is a thrilling sense of innovation in the air. As a result, the most ambitious actuaries are relocating to the island looking to boost their careers to the next level and make a real stamp on their work.

Those actuaries who decide to make the jump to Bermuda can expect to be well-rewarded for their work. Life actuaries on the island receive generous remuneration packages, often with little to no tax, and extremely fast progression. In contrast to the more consolidated life insurance UK market, Bermuda allows for exceptional career growth and pay. We have seen actuaries at the nearly/newly qualified level receive packages up to five times greater than their previous remuneration; and at the more senior end of the market, heightened bonuses and additional benefits ensure any move provides a significant uplift.

The popularity of the island as a working destination has also driven a more streamlined visa process for life actuaries. Recent campaigning by BILTIR (Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers) has advocated for faster visa processes for qualified actuaries, meaning that those actuaries at the associate or fellow level can now achieve visa approval in as little as five days as opposed to the usual 3 month waiting period.

This accelerated process is complimented by a rapidly expanding market in need of expertise and ambition. New areas of interest are coming into focus: investments functions on the island are growing, and the developing Asian market has now become a target for more aggressive players looking to make asset-intensive reinsurance deals. Economic Substance requirements from the regulator ensure that an on-island presence for reporting and pricing functions will continue to develop, and new vehicles and side-cars ensure that companies on the island are ever-evolving.

Our visit to the island confirmed what Clarence George has already witnessed over its last year and a half of bespoke life actuarial recruitment in Bermuda; that this market is an exceptional example of growth, innovation and opportunity. For those actuaries who are looking for broad, esoteric roles, unparalleled progression and a tropical island lifestyle – Bermuda is the ideal next step.

  • Writer's picturePatrick Flanagan

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

As the financial year comes to a close, Clarence George’s Managing Director Patrick Flanagan reflects on market trends within the insurance and investment recruitment industry.

It has been an exciting year for Clarence George. Continuing our projected growth of doubling revenue and headcount, we have enjoyed many successes and seen our team grow with the intake of two new Associate Consultants. It has also been a very interesting year as the insurance industry adjusted to the pandemic.

The quiet and inactive job market of 2020, hampered by coronavirus and uncertainty, is a thing of the past. Whereas at the beginning of 2020 employers were holding off on making hiring decisions, the realisation that working from home was productive saw recruitment make an upturn once more; and by 2021 the job market had made an almost full recovery.

In fact, right now the UK job market for actuaries and investment professionals is booming. In the last year, we have seen demand for candidates in the UK far overtake supply. As a result, the best candidates are frequently finding themselves with multiple offers and are therefore able to leverage better packages within a candidate-driven market. Further to this, the increased movement of employees has caused companies and teams to feel stretched. Due to firms being unwilling to lose key team members, there has been a surge in counter offers from companies since the start of 2022.

This combination of factors has seen a rise in salaries across all regions within the UK, with pay increases of between 10-30% in the last year.

Another new reality of the candidate-driven market is that interview processes now need to move extremely quickly in order to keep up. The movement of the best candidates within the market is swift; there can no longer be the luxury of waiting for extensive shortlists.

Although the fast movement of the market is a challenge, recruitment has been aided by many companies adopting a hybrid working model, allowing talent pools to widen due to no longer being limited to candidates due to location. However, the first year of Brexit has witnessed UK companies being hampered by the need to provide visas for those candidates coming from Europe, just as they do for non-European candidates.

Further to this, whilst agile-work has helped to alleviate some of the challenges facing the market, it has also been a contributing factor to a phenomenon called “the great resignation”. Extended periods of working from home and minimal contact with teams has caused many people to simply lose sight of what they once loved about their companies. As a result, we have spoken to many candidates who are not looking to change jobs due to a better role or for pay; rather they are simply looking for a change. Therefore, even if a candidate is not active in the market, they are increasingly open to hearing about those opportunities which may give them a chance to revitalize their career.

Finally, we have seen an encouraging push within the insurance industry for diversity and inclusivity. Clients are increasingly requesting agencies to provide diverse shortlists, and Clarence George in turn are ensuring that our clients support and champion diversity in their workforce. At the beginning of this year, we enjoyed an informative workshop discussing diversity awareness and inclusive recruitment, led by Diversiti UK. It was fantastic to further our understanding of diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace, and to engage in productive conversations around our responsibility as a recruitment search consultancy to champion change so that our clients and candidates can be confident that we are providing an equitable and inclusive recruitment service.

With such positive steps such as these taking place within our industry, I am able to look with optimism towards the year ahead, and look forward to Clarence George’s continued growth and development.

  • Writer's picturePatrick Flanagan

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

I still feel there is a stigma attached to the recruitment industry. There was a "wild west" approach in the past, which the industry has not yet managed to shake off. The industry has matured so much nowadays, that you have to be a highly effective recruiter to even survive. We are up against very sophisticated technology, LinkedIn, internal recruitment teams and outsourced recruitment. People have the right to ask: what real value can a headhunter offer?

I am more akin to an agent than a sales person – similar to film, music or sport with agents managing professional careers. The key advantages that I have over previous recruitment options are: my many years of experience, expert knowledge, contact network, work ethic and full commitment to my market – Life Insurance & Retirement Solutions. I am fortunate enough to work in a market that values this approach – it is specialist and niche with professionally qualified candidates who take their careers seriously.

The best career opportunities are not sitting on job boards or company websites. The best people are rarely looking for new jobs. They are usually very well looked after by their current employers. So, how does a business get access to the very best talent in the market? How does an individual get access to the best jobs? This is where a good agent comes in. Within my network of clients, I meet with key people to find out about their future plans, growth, problems and strategy – I am always thinking about my passive network of candidates and how they could potentially add value to businesses. I regularly meet them for a catch-up coffee to keep up to date with their career and even personal situations, as this factor alone is often the reason why people move jobs.

It is a grown up, smarter and long-term approach that few recruiters can even attempt. Their Directors are closely monitoring their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – call times, CV sends, interviews arranged and current billings. This puts immediate pressure on the recruiter to become pushy and try to force through unworkable solutions for both the client and candidate, hence giving the industry its negative connotations. My professional advice is to find a skilled agent in your profession to build a meaningful relationship with (even if you are not recruiting or looking for a new job). You should question them on their experience, clients that they work with and high-profile people in the market they have placed. At the very least, you would want to know this information if you are going to enlist someone to be a key part of your future career plan.

I run a boutique search firm and we really value the personal and tailored approach. Our primary focus is to get out of the office and meet as many relevant people in our market and build relationships. We want to find out what is happening and who is moving in order to be one step ahead of the competition. As you progress and become more senior in your career, then a strong relationship with an agent is paramount. There will be fewer opportunities at the top end and often roles are created around the individual. If you do not have an agent who can bring you key information and in some instances make discrete approaches to firms on your behalf, then it is putting you at a disadvantage to your peers.

I will finish on this anecdote. The most enjoyable placement that I was involved in took over 12 months. The individual was known and highly regarded by the business – however, even though this person was interested in what this business was doing, he was not actively looking. In the end, he was able to outline his ideal job and put the ball back in the court of the prospective hiring firm. They went away and after a few organisational tweaks were able to come up with the desired role. This was only achieved due to the trust, patience and goodwill of all involved. This is what I find most enjoyable about my role – helping professionals with their careers while coming up with solutions to complex recruitment needs.

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