Ahead of speaking on the C-Suite panel at tomorrow’s Insurance 2025 event, Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) chief executive Sian Fisher spoke with Scott McGee, describing how the focus on customers has brought about the constant need for change
You are sharing the stage with some pretty big names in the industry, as well as yourself? Are you looking forward to it?
Absolutely. I really like talking about change and moving the industry forward with new ideas. And I love that, when they used to call them ‘chief commercial officers,’ they are now being called ‘chief customer officer.’ I really like that because it has really put a focus on the attitude of focussing on the consumer, which is a really positive thing.
What has been the biggest change in the industry over the past five years?
It’s not one thing about change, particularly. It is the constant need for change and how you then make your staff and people care about that constant position of change. But then, it is how you turn that into a positive for the people and not just making them exhausted by the constant change.
So, I think it is the constant need for change, itself which has been the biggest change over the last few years.
What has brought this urgent need for change?
I think it is three-fold. You have the change and progression in technology, data and the internet of things (IoT).
You also have the change of a compliance-based regulator turning into an outcome-based regulator, so a consumer-based regulator.
And then the issue of trust because of the financial crash and other things, there has been a big undermining of trust in the financial services, generally, but in particular the insurance industry.
That’s throwing up the problem that people don’t want to buy insurance or engage with the insurance sector. So I think those three issues have led to this sudden need for constant change.
Is the industry progressing quickly enough, and at a good enough pace?
Well, our remit at the CII is that we try to look at it from the public perspective, not the sector perspective. I think the issue is ‘what are we trying to achieve for consumers?’ Is the rate of change related to making insurance more accessible, comprehensible and transparent to consumers? Or is it more of an intellectual exercise for us as an industry, that we just want as much technology as possible.
So, we need to focus on why we want all this change and what are we hoping to get out of it? And a lot of the conversations I have had have focussed on the consumer journey rather than insurance and the financial services, generally.
Is customer focus going to be the main issue in the future, or will there be a new focus?
No, I think any business where you are selling a product to a customer, that has to be the focus. It doesn’t matter what else happens, as long as the customer remains the focus.
Businesses may always try to do new things, but consumers will always go to new suppliers if they feel their current one isn’t giving them what they think they want.
I would say it always has to be about the customer. You might get business risks or challenges, but you have to turn them to ‘how do we produce a really good outcome for our customer?’
If you don’t, someone else will come along who is thinking like that, and that is why a lot of commercial businesses find themselves in a lot of trouble.
House of Fraser is a good example of this. If you don’t provide an online solution, if you don’t provide the products customers want to buy, no matter how successful you have been in the past, consumers will go and find another option.
Is it down to regulators or the insurers, themselves to ensure customers are the focus?
Regulators can’t control behaviour. Regulation can shoot the rogue elephant when it is really behaving badly. So behaviour has to be driven by the businesses themselves.
But as I have already said, it is great that companies are using the word ‘customer’ more. It shows they are really putting the customer at the forefront.
Lloyd’s is a great example. Once the new management regime came in after the financial crisis, they said they didn’t need to change any part of the business except its attitude to its customers. And they have tried to say that everything they have done, they have taken their challenges and turned them to the positive in relation to what they are providing to the customer.
Why should people come to Insurance 2025?
Because the conference is talking about issues ten years ahead and you need to know about them now. You need to be doing things about them now because 2025 will be on you before you have blinked.
Tomorrow’s issues are today’s issues, and the sooner you get round to talking about them and dealing with them, the better your business outcome will be.
Sian Fisher is speaking on the C-Suite panel at Insurance 2025 tomorrow! Book tickets now to not miss out!