The insurance landscape in Ireland boasts diversity, with a multitude of local and international companies spanning various specialties. Alongside renowned life and general insurance brands, there’s a spectrum of providers including Insurtech start-ups, expanding international insurers, niche insurers, reinsurers and more. 

According to a 2023 Milliman report, the insurance sector in Ireland is a significant economic driver, employing over 35,000 individuals and contributing billions to the national economy annually. 

Despite challenges such as regulatory shifts and evolving consumer preferences, the industry remains resilient, blending tradition with innovation. 

So, what does this mean for aspiring accountants weighing up their future career paths? I consulted experts to glean insights. 

The Pros

  • Whilst a considerable proportion stumbled into insurance accounting inadvertently, many chose to stay as they were hooked by the dynamic nature of the sector, the challenges on offer plus the opportunity for new experience, growth and promotion. 
  • Relative to careers in Industry, it is a well-paid sector paying circa 60 – 65K basic salary for newly qualified accountants emerging from big 4 (ideally for those who have had some exposure to an insurance client base over your training contract) 
  • There are a wide variety of accounting roles on offer in Insurance which include Financial Accounting, FP&A, Business Partnering, Finance Transformation, Finance Business Analysis, Regulatory Accounting, Operations Accounting, IFRS 17 Accounting, Data Analytics as well as newly evolving roles for an Accountant specialising in ESG. 
  • Regardless of what type of accountant that you are/feel you want to be, demand outweighs supply particularly at the Associate/Assistant Manager/Manager level. The variety of roles and types of insurers/offerings out there is a hugely attractive factor for this sector. 
  • The industry is quite stable and can withstand different socio-economic changes due to the nature of insurance – spreading the risk. Everyone has insurance in one form or another and the concept of premiums and claims is familiar to most people. The business/commercial side adds to this and gives a wider interest to accountants entering the space for a first time. 
  • This variety and range of activity in Insurance means that yes, it is challenging and contrary to perception “rarely-ever” boring!  

The Cons…

  • Despite its allure, navigating the sector poses challenges, chiefly the ever-evolving regulatory landscape and stringent deadlines. It is, and rightly so, highly regulated and at times a finance function is spending more time managing this side of it than possibly reviewing and analysing the financials
  • Regulations (CBI, EIOPA- DORA, CSRD etc), standards (IFRS, IIA, ISO) and legislation (e.g. Gender Pay Gap reporting) are changing constantly so one needs to be constantly monitoring developments and horizon scanning 
  • Compliance in areas like GDPR, consumer protection, distribution, etc solvency, regulators, fiscal authorities etc add to the complexity but this is important to ensure that the industry is properly run and delivers a good value product to the end customer
  • Long hours during reporting periods emerge as a common pain point

Transitioning between Insurance subsectors

Many of those surveyed commented that changing from General to Life to Reinsurance to Captive is happening on a daily basis and it is doable as many of the underlying principles are the same. However, a few interesting points were made, which are worth mentioning.

Life Insurance is a slow moving, complicated topic with detailed technical actuarial involvement. There seems to be a bigger technical step up to life Insurance from an accountant’s perspective. General Insurance is faster moving and conceptually easier to comprehend for newly qualified accountants. Reinsurance tends to be a little more removed and only part of a process. 

Additional skills, training in demand

For the past couple of years there have been increased demand for additional qualifications across Tax, ESG and Data Analytics. Employers are looking for Insurance accounting knowledge but the Holy Grail is the ability to manage large volumes of data and have the ability to analyse it with visualisations (PowerBI, Tableau etc). There is now more of a focus on “by exception” reporting and “dashboard based” reporting in order to convey information much quickly. This has resulted in more upskilling in this reporting area.

It can be tricky hiring the relevant skills in Insurance in Dublin. Roles with a deep technical expertise can be difficult to fill given the demand for experts (e.g. IFRS 17 experts, consolidation experts, Solvency II reporting/ regulatory reporting). It is also important to note that most finance roles are head-office/Dublin-based, and if you are living outside of Dublin or considering a move outside of the pale, be prepared to hop on a bus or train a couple of times per week.  

So, in summary, most of my clients have responded by saying that a career for Accountants in Insurance is an attractive and viable short- and long-term option. It is a well-paid job offering variety, constant change, and opportunities to learn and grow. 

A+F Recruitment specialise in the placement of accountants into the insurance and reinsurance sectors. Whether you are looking to change jobs or looking to hire, our team will provide you with practical, honest advice and assist you in finding that perfect role/person that will suit your requirements both in terms of technical skills and values. Just reach out to our Insurance specialist Tanya Thomas.