Virtual Summit Shorts: Technology driving cross-financial opportunities

The closing session of the 2021 All-Actuaries Virtual Summit explored the technological changes enveloping the industry and tried to determine which changes would have the biggest impact on the industry over the next decade.

In an opening survey of the audience on the issue, 40% thought artificial intelligence would have the biggest impact on their work, followed by cyber security at 20%, and quantum computing at 15%.

Yet presenter Walter de Oude, group CEO of Singlife and deputy chairman of Aviva Singlife told the audience that none of the suggested technologies would have such an impact.

“I don’t think it’s the technology that will change, it’s the technology that’s the easy part,” he said.

“It’s the technology use, rather than the technology build that’s important. Technology is really the plugging in of hundreds of different micro-services towards an ecosystem of technology that’s useful to customers,” Walter said.

Businesses don’t have to build every technology component; they just have to find the right mix of technologies. The real changes that will occur in the future is the technological ability to create cross-financial services opportunities. 

Traditional boundaries separating one financial services company from another are becoming blurred. The lines between a bank and an asset management company, or an asset manager and an insurance company, or a bank and a pre-paid card, are no longer as clear as they once were.

The advantages of technology are going to make these lines blur so much more, he told the audience.

Singlife has already taken advantage of this phenomenon. In realising that people are conscious of what their money is doing on a day to day basis, they constructed a deposit-like account with no withdrawal fees for customers, complete with a visa card – but attached to the back of an insurance contract.

“That’s where the technology is allowing the transformation or expansion of our insurance industry to take place across multiple verticals, and that’s just actuaries having to think a little outside the box,” Walter told the audience.

The industry doesn’t have to build a new universal life plan, but adopt traditional tools for much greater use beyond how they are ordinarily used.

It was easy to collect data to figure out what is generating better cut-through with customers, but the hard part was to take the data and form something of it in a well constructed way, and this was an area where actuaries could add so much value to businesses, Walter said.

Actuaries need to understand that there is so much capability in providing an end-to-end solution for customers, that the entire experience is going to generate value, rather than just the health product or the pricing, he added. 

“Actuaries have strong value, a high reputation for quality and are adaptable, so will always be able to add value,” Walter told the audience. 

The key to creating a successful life insurance company was creating a structure by which everyone feels that they are contributing in an open way, without feeling like there is a hierarchy, Walter told the audience.

Most insurance companies work on a chain-of-command basis, and every decision was made higher up by someone who knows less about what’s going on than people at the coalface of the business, he said.

Read further Actuaries Digital coverage of the 2021 All-Actuaries Virtual Summit.

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