The latest biannual salary survey results show little across-the-board movement within the insurance sector, with the exception of big increases for certain types of in-demand candidates. Belinda Martin reports
During the past six months, salaries have remained stable across the London broker market, due to softening market conditions, meaning large increases are unlikely until the market hardens.
However, demand remains constant across most positions, particularly within sales development and those roles requiring strong technical expertise - consequently, these salaries have risen.
Back-up technicians have seen their pay increase by between £2000 and £5000, depending on seniority, with the average starting salary range rising from between £18,000 and £22,000 to between £18,000 and £24,000.
Back-up technicians with more than five years' experience are enjoying top-range salary scales of £65,000, compared to £60,000 last year.
Regional roles have also seen an increase and the salary gap between out-of-town and City positions is gradually narrowing.
After a period of minimal recruitment and some redundancies, activity within the London claims market has picked up, with the majority of company and syndicate markets recruiting again and paying 2% to 3% salary increases with bonuses between 5% and 30%.
Claims technicians and claims brokers with two to five years' experience are typically taking home £25,000, although salaries for technicians have been recorded as high as £32,000. Claims manager positions are also starting to break through the £50,000 barrier more frequently.
Organisations continue to seek the 'elusive' candidate who has two to five years of relevant London market experience - and this could start to push remuneration packages up in this area during the next few months.
Recent changes in the Chartered Insurance Institute syllabus to reflect the Financial Services Authority's regulatory regime - including the Certificate in Insurance (Cert CII) and the Diploma in Insurance (Dip CII) - have increased the number of candidates embarking on the route to professional qualifications. This, in turn, means they can command the upper range of the salary on offer.
There has also been a significant increase in the hiring of legal professionals from private practices, bringing a background of working within the insurance arena. Their transferable skills, contractual expertise and commercial outlook have been well received, particularly in the Lloyd's market, and these candidates are enjoying excellent packages.
The underwriting market has remained busy across London and the regions, with heavy demand for compliance professionals, analysts and experienced underwriters. As a consequence, salaries have risen across the board, with most underwriting professionals enjoying 3% to 5% increases, as firms fight to retain employees.
Interestingly, salaries that have seen particular growth include underwriting assistants and property and casualty underwriters with less than two years' experience. Underwriting assistants have seen their pay range rise to between £16,000 and £26,000, compared with between £14,000 and £25,000 earlier on in the year. Property and casualty underwriters with up to two years' experience have enjoyed the largest increments across the industry, from £20,000 to a minimum of £25,000.
In a change from previous years, there has been less call for second-jobbers with one to two years' experience - instead companies have been recruiting at slightly more senior levels (three to 10 years' experience).
However, the market remains fairly short of candidates, with a particular lack of active job-seekers in the regional market and across the more specialist areas of underwriting, such as professional indemnity, directors' and officers' liability and engineering.
On the temporary side, hourly rates for technical roles have recently increased - as firms attempt to secure the specialist skill sets they need as soon as possible. Personal lines professionals with up to two years' experience in the broker market are now starting on a minimum of £20 an hour and claims adjusters have also seen an increase to between £12 and £14 an hour, compared to £11.
Contractors in longer-term positions and projects generally receive the same benefits as permanent employees, albeit on a pro-rata basis. It is also becoming slightly more common to receive a bonus at the end of a specific contract.
Accountancy professionals within the insurance sector are enjoying bumper pay increases, especially within financial reporting and syndicate accounting.
However, salaries for the latter are slowing compared with last year's increments. In general terms, pay rose by 5% to 10% in the past six months alone, with no sign that this trend is abating. Bonuses also rose on last year's levels from 5% to 8% for junior and part-qualified accountancy positions and from 10% to 15% for management accounting roles.
The Scottish insurance industry is also busy in both the Edinburgh and Glasgow markets, although the latter is perhaps showing the most activity, especially within the broking companies. In Edinburgh, candidate shortages across broking and account executive positions are rife and firms are trying to attract talent from Glasgow.
As would be expected, given the high volumes of recruitment and business expansion in this geographical area, broking salaries have seen the greatest increase - especially within business development roles. For example, new business development executives can now expect to take home up to £40,000, as opposed to £35,000 last year. Underwriting assistants in the two cities have also seen their minimum salaries increase from £12,000 to £13,000.
Recruitment levels for the remainder of 2005 and beginning of 2006 are expected to remain strong, as more insurance companies move to Scotland.
As a consequence, salary levels will continue to rise in the market.
Belinda Martin is communications manager at Joslin Rowe. Joslin Rowe's biannual salary survey, produced every six months for the past five years, tracks changes in recruitment trends and their knock-on effect on remuneration packages across the insurance industry. The information is based on the salaries paid by its clients and the candidates it interviews.
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