According to a survey of representatives of nearly 200 insurers conducted by analysts at rating agency A.M. Best, nearly three-quarters of people on carrier management teams are age 50 or older—a distinction that makes them eligible for membership in AARP.
Specifically, Best’s report on a Fall 2015 survey of insurers reveals that 65 percent of the respondents peg the average age of their key management teams between 50 and 60 years. Another 9 percent put the average age between 60 and 70. On the other side of the age scale, only one insurer said the average age of key management is between 30 and 40.
Respondents consisted mainly of property/casualty companies (71 percent) and were heavily weighted toward mutual and privately owned firms (43 percent and 31 percent), according to Best’s Special Report titled “A.M. Best Fall 2015 Insurance Industry Survey.”
The survey also questioned insurers about wide-ranging topics, such as market competition and El Niño impacts, while following up on the age-of-executives question with related queries about succession planning and mandatory retirement.
With so many key managers soon eligible for retirement, what’s the average age of individuals in line to step into their shoes?
Sixty-five percent of respondents said the average age of successor managers falls between 40 and 50, while another 14 percent put the average between 50 and 60. Only 21.2 percent put the average age of those identified as successors to current leaders between 30 and 40.
As for mandatory retirement rules, an overwhelming majority of respondents—92 percent—reported that their companies did not enforce a mandatory retirement age for key management positions.
That result is actually lower than the 98 percent figure reported by Carrier Management based on a survey of roughly 100 P/C chief executives, board members and leaders of human resources conducted in 2014 by Carrier Management and The Jacobson Group. The Carrier Management/Jacobson survey, unlike A.M. Best, focused exclusively on the CEO position and included only P/C insurers among respondents but represented a similar cross-section of insurers based on ownership and size. (In both the A.M. Best and Carrier Management reports, only 13 percent of respondents were from public companies.)
The following Carrier Management articles summarize key results from the Carrier Management/Jacobson CEO Succession Planning Survey and compare the results to surveys for other industries:
- Written CEO Succession Plans Lacking Among P/C Insurers: Research
- The Changing of the Guard: Comparing the Old and New
- Strategy Is Missing Piece of Many Carrier Succession Plans: Survey
- Graphic Insight: How Often Do You Review the CEO Succession Plan?
A full copy of the Carrier Management/Jacobson survey, Carrier Management CEO Succession Planning Survey Results 2015, is available for purchase in the research section of Carrier Management’s website here.
The Best report expressed concern that more than 20 percent of the companies responding to the rating agency survey indicated that they did not have succession plans in place for key leaders, such as CEOs, chief financial officers and chief underwriting officers (CXOs, generally), “opening up the possibility of negative impacts arising from a sudden, unforeseen departure.” In that vein, the result was also less worrisome than the Carrier Management/Jacobson survey tally, which had 58 percent of respondents saying their companies had no written succession plan in place for the CEO.
Both surveys looked into the frequency with which succession plans are reviewed (with annual reviews being the top answer for both the A.M. Best and Carrier Management tallies) and uncovered preferences for filling positions of retiring executives with internal candidates. Likewise, both surveys asked—in slightly different ways—what qualities are sought in successor executives.
Overwhelmingly, insurers told A.M. Best that industry experience is a key qualifier for successor candidates, with 82 percent checking off experience as a qualification. Still, the Carrier Management/Jacobson survey, published in March, revealed that P/C carriers don’t look for carbon copies of the incumbent CEO when they seek out his or her potential replacement, with more than two-thirds of respondents saying that someone “moderately different” from the current CEO would meet the company’s expectations for a successor.
Ranked second on the A.M. Best list of CXO successor qualifications—but far behind industry experience—are leadership and people skills, selected by one-third of respondents, and cultural fit, which was selected by about 20 percent.
One question unique to the Carrier Management survey related to rating agencies—specifically whether carriers had been asked for succession planning information by rating agencies. Seventy-six percent of the P/C insurers we surveyed said they had not been asked for such information.