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Friday, 14th August 2020
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Variety is attracting staff to international insurance Back  
Catherine Graham looks at the positive aspects of working in the insurance industry.
I am not directly employed in the international insurance industry in Dublin, but you could say I am employed by the industry - and all the work I do is on behalf of the industry. Being so close to the industry I see one of the most positive aspects of working in Dublin’s international insurance industry as the huge variety of different activities on offer, with many working in multi-lingual, growth environments.

One area creating interest is cross border insurance, an area of international insurance which is attracting the best and brightest as the sector continues to expand. There are now 33 companies in Ireland with international life licences. These include some domestic players with international arms - such as Irish Life International. In the very late 1990s, following on from a successful marketing drive by IDA we succeeded in attracting over 10 Italian life companies to Dublin. The Italian companies based here have had very successful operations, in fact one company - San Paolo - wrote more business last year (originating from Italy) than the whole of the Irish domestic life industry. Still on the life side - Scottish Equitable International recently announced that they would be setting up an Irish operation. They plan to use Dublin as a ‘product factory’ - specifically because they have found the regulatory restrictions in Luxembourg have frustrated attempts to develop new products. Inora Life - a subsidiary of Societe Generale from France, has recently set up an Irish operation - using Dublin as a base for designing structured financial insurance products - both companies have/will be setting up outside the IFSC 10 per cent regime. More recently we are aware of interest and attention from the North American life industry in the European life market.

Another positive aspect of working in the industry is that by initially working for a start-up operation employees are being exposed to a broader range of experiences, than usual.

In the reinsurance industry in particular many insurance staff are returning home/moving to Ireland from abroad, bringing with them knowledge and skills gained in an international insurance context. Ten years ago these types of roles would have been carried out somewhere else, maybe in Bermuda or London but now Dublin is a key centre. The world’s risk management industry is a growing and global one, and there are excellent opportunities for insurance graduates from Irish colleges as well as excellent opportunities for accountancy and actuarial professionals also. Risk management in the purest sense is the process of analysing exposure to risk and determining how to best handle such exposure. A captive insurance company for example is one method of handling some of a company’s corporate risks.

Opportunities for recruitment in insurance are likely to rise in 2002, at least we in the IDA hope so. We see the captive industry continuing to grow and to diversify. The captive industry tends to employ a mixture of persons with either an accounting and/or insurance/risk management background. As I said earlier, there is further growth developing in the cross-border life industry in different markets - and also in the reinsurance industry - specifically in the whole ART area. ART or alternative risk transfer is the name given to a variety of different methods and structured financial tools to deal with non-traditional (i.e. non-traditionally insurable) risks. It isn’t possible for me to profile an atypical ‘international insurance’ job - international insurance operations employ accountants, actuaries, underwriters, linguists and technicians to name but a few, and experience and industry knowledge count for a lot.

And the types of jobs in insurance companies are changing. As companies develop new products, for example, savings, investments, structured finance, life and health and other forms of insurance solutions - and enter new markets (e.g. different countries or regions) individuals employed by those companies are gaining valuable new knowledge and research skills. Because our international insurance industry is a dynamic one and not static people who are working in the industry find their ‘job profiles’ change as their companies develop. Ask anyone who works in insurance and they will tell you that it is such a varied industry. Many people take varied routes into the industry, - developing a wide range of knowledge along the way - all industry specific.

At the moment, on the life side - there is definite growth forecast in the whole cross-border, European life products market. This is a result of natural growth as different markets in Europe are not all as well developed for certain types of products as each other. Ireland is ideally suited as a ‘product manufacturing base’. For example, there are opportunities for existing cross-border life companies in Ireland and for new entrants also to market a product suitable for the new German ‘Reister pensions’.

We in the IDA have been developing a new product initiative aimed at the corporate pensions market in Europe. Ireland now has an extensive and fast growing international life assurance sector selling into the retail market in continental Europe and this initiative is a modified version of the product concepts which have been so successfully developed for the personal savings market. We are hopeful that Ireland will be able to attract a share of this potentially vast market.

On the non-life side, there is continued growth in the established captive insurance industry here and I can see this sector developing further this year. Over 20 new captives were set up in 2000.

The reinsurance sector continues to grow - both with new start-ups and also with existing operations expanding their range of business here and more importantly writing more premium income.

Anecdotally the evidence would suggest that the pressures on staff retentions have eased in the past few months - which is good news for the industry.

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