The insurers and brokers of the future need to use technology to take advantage of business trends, and managing general agents can find ways to help them do this without committing to a complete overhaul

Q: What has been the biggest change in insurance IT over the past five years?

A: The acceptance of the Microsoft.NET architecture by corporates. Going back seven or eight years, there was a massive scepticism about the scalability, the fitness for purpose and industrial strength of the Microsoft environment. Now we see very few requests for tender that aren’t accepting of the .NET architecture.

Q: Could lack of investment now lead to problems in the future?

A: Yes. A lack of investment in appropriate architecture, and a lack of willingness to conduct a technology refresh could lead to problems in leveraging global computing trends for insuring and broking businesses. Enterprises need to be willing to refresh their technology so they can leverage global trends in consumerism.

Q: What opportunities are there for new technology in insurance?

A: The managing general agent (MGA) market is a classic example. You’re an insurer, you have capacity, you want to get into some niches but your current technology doesn’t support it, and changing it would be horribly expensive. You find a nimble MGA or start one yourself as a joint venture. MGAs bring agility. They often start with a clean sheet, they have no luggage, they can go out and buy exactly the right technology that morning. You can take advantages of new trends in technology without refreshing your own. MGAs are great for that.

Q: What will insurers and brokers of the future look like?

A: In five or 10 years, nobody is going to start up a business that they think doesn’t have legs. I think the question is: what characterises a new start today? That’s where the thinking goes on, and that gives a clue as to what the future might hold. There is no doubt in my mind that the broking and insurer operation of the future will be much more technical at its core. There’s now no folk memory of an enterprise in insurance without IT; that’s gone.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career?

A: I’d like to think I haven’t had my highlight yet; that it’s still to come.

Ray Vincent is managing director of Transactor Global Solutions.