Recruitment in any industry requires due diligence and fact-finding so that a firm ends up with a suitable or better candidate than the previous one if recruiting for a vacated position.
There are various ways to recruit including LinkedIn profiles, employee referrals, industry networking events, college recruitment fairs and the most popular one in Kenya, recruitment agencies.
We will look at the last one because it seems to be the one tasked in recruitment by almost all insurance companies in this country. When these agencies get to work, they will of course look at previous experience for the position they are supposed to fill, and if it is a CEO’s job they will look at someone who has held that position before or a position very close to that. That is exactly where the problem starts.
Most of these recruitment agencies are not specialists in insurance matters and most do not do due diligence because they will be looking to fill up a position as quickly as possible without too much hassle. What I mean by that is they want to save time and money so why go to extra lengths to research on a candidate? The position so filled up this way ends up with a candidate who, in most cases, is not suitable for the position.
Also, recruitment agencies mostly look at papers for the various positions they have been hired to fill up. They look at the candidate who has qualified most as far academic credentials are concerned and may not necessarily consider other factors such as whether the candidate is a people’s person or whether the candidate has had a clean record in the past. That also explains the obsession with getting academic qualifications in the insurance industry, and it is a position that has been strengthened by the regulator who insists that certain positions have to be filled up with people with certain qualifications. It has been proven more than once in other sectors that relying solely on academic papers is not the surest way to get the best person for the job.
One wonders why the insurance industry is so obsessed with this idea of academic papers. Could it be unwillingness on the part of the hirers of certain positions to make the effort because they want the easy way out of a tricky situation of hiring of suitable employees?
It is no wonder then that the insurance industry in Kenya has been plagued with the most unsuitable people in certain positions including top managerial ones. The industry is awash with some of the most incompetent people you can find in any industry earning astronomical sums of money. One can only wonder how they ended up there. It is also amazing that the same incompetent people will leave one position and go to another higher position and get paid handsomely for it while delivering nothing to the organisation. It seems like there is a shortage of suitable skills in the insurance industry that bad apples have to be recycled over and over again to the consternation of industry stakeholders.
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Nepotism also plays a part in the hiring process with people in higher positions hiring their relatives who are ill-equipped for the job. This leaves out other qualified candidates who are much better and more qualified for the particular position. There could also be an element of office politics where incompetent employees wheedle their way in and are able to get ahead of the competent ones.
There needs to be a relook at the hiring process in this industry with the net being cast wider in search of suitable candidates. I have only experienced one CEO in my entire life in the insurance industry asking insurance intermediaries whether a candidate he had was good to hire. He also happens to be the most sought-after CEO in the industry. There needs to be a stop on reliance on academic papers only as they have proven to be an extremely deficient form of criteria when looking for a suitable candidate. There are certain agents and brokers who can fill up some of these positions very well if given a chance; only the industry seems intent on shooting itself in the foot. In fact the industry is on a regression path with the mandarins in the industry wondering when the chicken left the coop. All those, especially in high positions need to be vetted afresh by the owners of these companies and if found wanting, be shown the door.
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There is too much suffering when some these characters get to senior positions of authority as they pull their weight to the fullest. It is a well-known fact that incompetent people have challenges and they hide these challenges by abusing their authority. They fire all those deemed a threat to them and the loser is these companies that do not recognize the threat posed by such individuals. They only come to realise when it is too late and the damage has been done. These are experiences we have gone through in the industry and which need to be put to a stop.
Bima Intermediaries Association of Kenya (BIAK)