In the latest of a series of interviews with insurance leaders, we ask the marketing director of Seven Investment Management about his vision for the industry.
How do you see the market unfolding in two years’ time? The global economy will be seeing some signs of slow recovery after a protracted slowdown, especially in the US and UK. Several false recoveries will have been suffered as the much anticipated green shoots merely turn out to be advanced mould. House prices have stabilised but there has been no return to anything resembling a property boom.
What is your vision of how the insurance sector will align to the changing business landscape? The industry will be seeing more consolidation as technology seeks to bring down costs. For execution clients, direct access will be even easier and price comparison sites will be claiming more space. However, there will also be the rise of higher quality (and charged accordingly) and better service providers for broader family groups as insurance is integrated into other financial services. This is an area where the price comparison sites cannot easily enter as service will be paramount and it will not be driven by computer questions. The opportunity of developing these into lower-value, middle-class “family office” designs will be fascinating and provide a great opportunity.
What do you see as the main challenges in the market going forward? How can business overcome them? In a period of low growth, it will be a challenge for the industry to ensure that its products are seen as a vital need for people, apart from where they are mandated by law. The challenge will be to change the perception of insurance as a necessary cost that has to be borne, back to insurance being a comforting protection for the family in difficult times. The industry has to ensure it is not just seen to be selling a financial baked bean or a commoditised product, but something that has a real demand and interest – this will probably be addressed as being part of a range of facilities for clients.
Whom do you see as the main visionaries in the insurance market right now? In company pensions Mark Wood, of Paternoster, is tackling the issues around company pensions where they are seen to be just a deadweight for companies and in a state of atrophy. His initiative has been a breath of fresh air to a part of the industry in a dank area of the City that has not been known for either its imaginative or successful development.
What are the key business issues that insurance leaders need to understand today to drive their businesses? One, is that their products are seen as dull and a negative that you have to have – not want to have. Two, is that they are being disintermediated by technology and software solutions. Three, is that they are seen to be providing real value for money and are innovative – not the old crusty area of the City.