London’s insurance market struggles to attract more women

Efforts to attract more women into London’s insurance market have had limited success, with data showing almost a third of companies have no females in the most senior positions.

A big gap also exists between average bonuses earned by men and women in the market, which has been trying to improve diversity for years with a variety of initiatives designed to encourage more females to join.

Data from the London Market Group, an industry body, show progress has been slow in London’s specialist insurance and reinsurance sector, which employs about 47,000 people.

The market comprises Lloyd’s of London and the “company market”. The latter includes insurers that operate outside Lloyd’s, but sell similar insurance. A lot of the companies operate in both markets. 

Although there is a slightly higher proportion of women in the workforce than there was when data was first collected in 2014, there are still big gaps.

The research found 29 per cent of companies have no women in what the Financial Conduct Authority calls “controlled functions” — usually the most senior jobs in the company. In another 18 per cent of companies, women accounted for a tenth fewer of people in senior roles.

Column chart of Proportion of senior positions held by women* showing Women at the top

And because of the lack of senior women, bonuses paid to men are on average seven times higher than they are for women.

Overall, only a quarter of top quartile earners in the London insurance market are female, compared with 42 per cent across all UK businesses.

Matthew Moore, the LMG’s chairman, called the data “disappointing”.

“There are not enough women in very senior roles,” he said. “It’s regrettable, it’s a waste of talent and it’s inadequate to the needs of our industry going forward.”

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However, he added: “The London Market is energetically and transparently seeking to remedy the gender gaps. Culturally, organisations have shifted a very long way in a short space of time. Ten years ago, we would not be having this order of conversation and this level of attention, investment and intervention . . . the impact and results will follow over time.”

The research also painted a picture of an ageing industry. People aged 40 and over account for 51 per cent of employees in the London insurance market, up from 44 per cent in 2014.

This is the third time the LMG has compiled data on the market. The report, entitled London Matters, looks at the competitive position of the capital’s insurance market against other insurance centres around the world.

It found that the US was now the biggest source of business for London’s insurers, overtaking the UK and Ireland.

Bar chart of Source of premiums ($bn) showing Where London's insurance business comes from

It also found the London market was increasingly dominated by large companies, many of them based outside the UK, rather than the smaller insurers and brokers, which have traditionally done a lot of the business. These larger companies have operations around the world, and could choose to operate away from London in other insurance centres.

Mr Moore said insurers “need a very good answer” to the question of why they would do business in London rather than elsewhere. “It keeps London honest,” he said.



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