Tag Archives: interconnected

The 5 I’s of Underwriting

The benefits of next-generation underwriting for complex risks are quantifiable and real. So, when, where and how to start?

When? Now. The sooner, the better.

Where? It all starts with understanding the possible. You need to know what is realistically possible with the offerings that are available today. It is equally important to figure out what will be possible in the not too distant future. Once you’ve got a grip on the possibilities, it’s time to set priorities. Describe the capabilities that go on the priority list using business terminology. This makes it much easier to have meaningful conversations between the business and IT interests. It is very important to look at how your plans for underwriting will align and work in concert with your policy administration system. Figure out what the best path for your organization is, and then just make it happen.

How? The most effective path for making progress depends on the characteristics and culture of the company. For some insurers, shifting focus to the possibilities for underwriting gets things moving. Other organizations might need some help or just a kick-start. You can move the ball forward significantly by bringing in advisers who can describe what the options are and then put the value in context for your company. The important thing is to make progress one way or another. Time is of the essence.

Simply put, the goal of underwriting is to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. SMA’s concept of modern underwriting capabilities can best be described by using the 5 I’s: Intuitive, Intelligent, Interconnected, Informative and Insightful. The next-generation insurers are embracing solutions that embody these characteristics, and they are reaping the benefits.

What do these 5 I’s mean for you? Let’s explore:

Intuitive — A user-experience-centric desktop, an intuitive desktop, saves time spent hunting and searching for information, and it eliminates rekeying into several systems. It also reduces the learning curve and ties directly to the main goals of underwriting: efficiency and effectiveness.

Intelligent — For complex risks that require the touch of an underwriter, the modern underwriting workstation can significantly augment the expertise and experience by incorporating and taking advantage of new sources of data and models. This new level of intelligence automation will help make better decisions and provide controlled discipline.

Interconnected — Modern underwriting capabilities are delivered through a variety of solutions that are tightly integrated with everything underwriting needs and feeds. The required capabilities extend beyond what a single solution can deliver. The requirements include an interconnected, intelligent, modern platform that facilitates easy integration and synchronization with core systems, tools, spreadsheets, models and data, as well as external data sources.

Informative and Insightful — Modern platforms provide underwriting with data and analytics like never before. Emerging technologies, as well as an abundance of new information, are generating new possibilities for underwriting and new ways to accomplish far-reaching transformation for the next generation of underwriting excellence. It is now possible to make smarter, more informed decisions by using new sources of data and models. New levels of sophistication in the information about both risk and customer intelligence are possible.

Looking back on my past-life as an insurer, I am in awe of today’s possibilities. The power that data and analytics are giving our industry is boundless. Just thinking about how far underwriting has come in a very short time makes me even more excited for the future! This is why at SMA we consider “Interconnect Intelligence for Underwriting” an imperative. It is critical to becoming a next-gen insurer. The world is moving as fast as we think it is. Any steps you can take to gain an edge by improving efficiency and effectiveness are must-take steps!

6 Trends Signaling Major Opportunity

Last year, I decided to pursue a career transition as a full-time occupation. I’ve been out in the market for the past six months, assessing business opportunities as I network with executives in financial services, healthcare, media and retail, as well as with VCs, private equity investors and advisers.

What’s been great is that invariably any role in any organization, however broad, will be framed by the priorities that drive the business, which may be using a short-range lens defined by the annual plan, or one that doesn’t offer much of a peripheral view.  Transition-as-occupation offers full permission to set the aperture and depth of field for insight-gathering and exploration.

What has also been remarkable is not only the generosity of many people at the top of their respective fields to share perspectives, but also how I’ve been able to help others by playing the role of connector among people who may not normally meet up with each other, but who are excited to understand how others are addressing common questions in a complex and changing environment.

Here are six connected trends on the collective mind of the leaders with whom I’ve met. They represent a snapshot of what I am hearing. Within them are opportunities to be realized across this industry:

  • Customer-centricity – is it talk or walk? C-suiters certainly verbalize that “customer-centricity” matters, but few teams demonstrate that empathizing with the customer is bedrock for viable, win/win relationships, growth and profit improvement. The phrase has as many definitions as (or more than) the number of people defining it. Most significantly, the connection to concrete, quantifiable business priorities is generally missing. For those who get beyond the buzzwords, there is tremendous tangible value, even disruptive opportunity, in being a customer-focused player in this sector.
  • Old norms don’t work…digital and innovation are essential. Businesses are faced with redesigning processes, structures and metrics, recruiting more agile learners who are also able to deliver and overcoming legacy infrastructure to adopt new technologies. This level of change in the way businesses operate is not for the faint-hearted. The companies that take on these real implementation requirements will gain ground.
  • Yes, technology truly is changing everything. Even with greater efficiency, there is no growth without compelling offerings that meet big market needs. For companies engineered to serve baby boomers, serving the millennial generation requires profound change, not just a digital coat of paint. The implications go way beyond having a social media presence, cool apps and clever advertising. The millennial generation is inheriting a different world, re-shaped in good and bad ways by prior generations.  The starting point for progress is to be truly insight-led, and not presume you know what people want and need.
  • The marketing bar is being raised. This discipline has been disrupted, and more is being demanded. Traditionally viewed as “support” people, marketers are now being held to results that require a different seat at the table, a different talent profile, processes and resources and an entirely new set of connections with colleagues and external partners. Begin by redefining relationships, especially with product, IT and sales internally, and with the advertising and media agencies as key outside partners.
  • Two tales are playing out within financial services. Legacy institutions remain heavily focused on regulation, compliance, expense reduction and cyber security…while fin tech is hot, with capital flowing into payments, wealth management, consumer lending and related start-ups pursuing market disruption and reshaping the industry. Start-ups are doing great things in this sector and will keep incumbents on their toes, as well as representing potential acquisition opportunities as a strategy to modernize. Alignment around a clear strategy and a collaborative culture are at the foundation of leading change vs. playing defense.
  • Healthcare disruption is creating opportunities, but the pace is slow. Payers and providers are aiming to address Affordable Care Act and other government, employer and consumer-driven impacts.  Using electronic medical records, controlling employer healthcare expenses and enabling patient accountability for medical care decisions are just three of many big and complex challenges. The road to change will be long and slow given the sheer complexity and fragmentation of healthcare delivery. As in financial services, new entrants are leading innovation with solutions that address elements of the ecosystem. As in financial services, there is room for incumbents to realize opportunity with the right strategic and cultural conditions.