Gina Heng at the 2017 InsurByte conference with Clement Bouthelier (UEX), Dinesh Shenoy (Socotra), Grace Fong (CXA Group), and Regine Lai (My Insurer).
It was a pleasure to take part in InsurByte Conference 2017 at LATTICE80 today. Our panel discussed the new distribution channels that insurance companies can tap into to enhance their marketing and communication. A shout out to my fellow panelists: Clement Bouthelier (UEX), Dinesh Shenoy (Socotra), Grace Fong (CXA Group), and Regine Lai (My Insurer).
I’m interested in this topic because my wealth management platform for women, Miss Kaya, is heading towards becoming a lifestyle digital bank that will offer insurance products as part of the customer journey. Beyond that, a South Korea-based portfolio company of ours recently listed in KONEX – it offers financial advisory services that include insurance.
What we discussed
While it was a short panel, some top-line discussion points come to mind. For example, it’s important to think in terms of customer experience. Insurance is part of the wealth management portfolio, and understanding the individual needs of your customers – customising selections for them – is important.
Going omnichannel – yes that buzzword again! – means engaging with the customer through different channels to keep the conversation moving forward. At the same time, it’s not just about pushing the product. Insurance providers and brokers must also educate and share knowledge for a more rounded approach.
Reducing friction to purchase is vital. To illustrate, I was at an airport recently and realised I needed travel insurance. I had two online options immediately, but one of them wasn’t a smooth experience and I gave up. The second option was simple and I purchased a plan in just five minutes through the app. Clear winner!
The reality is that smart insurance brokers are already moving away from outdated systems that are causing problems and resulting in a loss of relevance. Forward-looking insurance brokers are transforming adopting cloud-based technologies and marketing know-how.
The macro landscape
For global insurers, digital transformation and disruptive innovation have gone from being vague futuristic concepts to immediate-term action items on senior leaders’ strategic agendas. Forces that demand significant change to marketing and distribution channels, and entirely new business models, include:
- New competitive threats
- Ongoing cost pressures
- Aging technology
- Increasing regulatory requirements
- Generally lacklustre financial performance
A common fear is that new market entrants will do to insurance what Uber has done to ride hailing, Amazon has done to retail and robo advisors are doing to investment and wealth management. (I’m incorporating robo into Miss Kaya because I have no doubt it’s the future!)
Let’s finish on this point: one key challenge is the insurance industry’s lack of metrics to assess digital maturity. With unclear visibility, it’s difficult knowing where to prioritise investments, including in terms of digital marketing and distribution channels. Ultimately, new thinking, clear purpose and strategic vision are required every bit as much as new business models.
Gina Heng, founder of Miss Kaya and entrepreneur, noticed that the existing financial management services available sounded too complex, filled with jargon and hence too dull.
It is time for a change given the role women play in today’s world professionally and otherwise. Miss Kaya’s mission is to empower women and allow them to achieve financial freedom and live the lifestyles they want.