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Skills crunch puts brokers in high demand

Brokers are the fourth most sought after workers for insurance employers in Australia – and number two in New Zealand – as unemployment heads to 50-year lows and organisations struggle to secure skilled staff, recruiter Hays says.

The highest salaries in the insurance sector belong to heads of claims and chief underwriters in life insurance, with $200,000 a year typical, the latest Hays Salary Guide says.

In insurance broking, account directors earn $155,000 to $210,000 in Sydney and Melbourne, and a little less in other capital cities and regional areas, dropping as low as $110,000 in parts of Queensland.

Account managers can expect $80,000 to $140,000, depending where they live, while Hays says senior account executives at brokerages earn $70,000 to $120,000, account executives $51,000 to $85,000, and assistant account executives $46,000 to $66,000.

The top five insurance roles employers need to fill in Australia are claims assessors, SME underwriters, contact centre agents (lodgment), brokers, and technical claims managers.

In New Zealand, underwriters, brokers, loss adjusters, claims handlers and broker support were listed.

Hays found 94% of insurers plan to lift salaries at the next pay review – a jump from around three-quarters a year ago and indicating more employees will receive a pay rise this coming financial year than last.

A third of insurance employers in Australia intend to raise salaries by 3-6% – and 11% by even more. Around two-thirds have already offered higher salaries than planned.

Insurance took seventh place for being the industry with the most extreme skills shortages in Australia while banking occupied number one spot.

“This is fueling a once-in-a-career market,” Regional Director Carl Piesse said. "Skills shortages have reached a level unmatched in our years in recruitment and sparked deliberate salary increases from employers.”

Intense competition for skilled professionals will translate into gradual salary increases this coming financial year, Mr Piesse says, as 87% of employers in Australia struggle to meet skill needs – most saying it will impact operations or growth.