Guidewire product marketing manager EMEA Mark Mullin looks at how itechnology can help fill the skills gap that threatens the industry

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I have been around the industry now for almost 35 years. I was lucky when I started: I entered a training programme with Royal Insurance in Canada, where I entered a fast track to becoming an expert in my field - commercial underwriting, and in particular large corporate risks. I was surrounded by subject matter experts in everything from boiler and machinery, to logistics and fleets, to loss control, process engineering, sprinkler systems. I was very fortunate indeed.

I spent the next few years on the insurer side of the street - applying my skills and growing my expertise. Then, I did what many of the experts our industry produces do - I made the transition from the insurer world and became a broker, and grew my skills further. Later, I went to work for a large business process outsourcing company, specialising in risk management and data.

The past few years have seen a fundamental change. With the fast-moving landscape, with mergers and acquisitions, many experts in niche areas of underwriting and claims, and many of my own colleagues, have taken early retirement, or voluntary redundancy as their ‘new’ organisations grapple with costs. Strategy gives way to immediacy and tactics.

How is the market landscape affecting all this? As more products become commoditised, as distribution channels morph, as processes are automated and systems embed workflow and decision-making, the paradigm is shifting. More capacity is freed up and available for expert tasks - but fewer experts are available.

This creates opportunity. Insurers that have invested in continuous transformation for their business, and moved to more agile technology platforms, can adapt to this landscape. They are better positioned to retain the expertise they need to focus on the niche markets and products where true subject matter experts will make the difference. The opportunity? To take market share. To
acquire other insurers who are floundering, unable to react and adapt. Some insurers will exit markets. Some will acquire others less capable of adapting, or acquire the parts of their business where true expertise is needed.

This will be a new shift for our industry. As the balance of expertise becomes centred in fewer insurer organisations, there will be a subtle change in our market. The commercial insurance landscape will change. Many insurers will be fundamentally, and permanently, changed.

Mark Mullin has more than 30 years’ experience in the insurance, fi nancial services and related industries in North America and Europe, as well more recently in South-East Asia. He previously held senior roles for Target Group and SSP in the UK, and has a background in underwriting and broking. Mark assists Guidewire clients in establishing and implementing local content, and assisting the Guidewire team in ensuring key business issues are fully addressed by Guidewire solutions.