By Greg Boutin, CEO, Relay Platform
Why a focus on technological agility, social connectivity and quicker access to capacity is needed more than ever.
Trust is a key ingredient in transferring risk. In both insurance and reinsurance, deals have been built on reputations, handshakes and business meals. Lots of them. And until now, building trust has been mostly a face-to-face business.
Like so many other industries in the Covid-19 era, this is quickly changing. The pandemic is playing the role of lead catalyst for major trends. This places a huge amount of pressure on the system – to link and establish trust with new participants and sources of data in minutes in order to secure the best placement. Practitioners find themselves challenged to rethink how they connect and build trust, when they have never met another party.
Three new trends converge to heighten those challenges:
First, the capacity provider response time has become the real competitive differentiator, by which deals are won or lost. Product cycles were shortening even before the crisis, but now, insureds actively use technology to secure the best pricing and coverage. Time-based competition is finally entering the insurance and reinsurance arena. With new economic pressure, this trend will only intensify, pushing efficiencies in all risk transfer backend processes, in a drive to increase speed-to-market. There will be less time and resources for placements, let alone trust-building.
Second, access to insurance and reinsurance capacity has tightened. Insurance-linked securities are again on everyone’s lips, and other risk vehicles are being structured as we speak. Relying on capacity from personal connections is being challenged. Placement professionals increasingly need to reach well beyond their known established markets to write a deal.
Third, risk transfer business models are rapidly evolving, as a result of both competitive pressures and technology lowering barriers to entry. We witness a convergence of risk transfer organisations, with reinsurers, carriers and brokers moving into each other’s businesses. Right now, CEOs and COOs are looking to automate more, CFOs are scanning the organisation for efficiency gains, and exposure and claims management is front and centre. Old networks are being challenged to keep up, and need to be assisted by technology more than ever.
One thing is certain: all those trends are intensifying, into a continuous whirlwind of volatility.
Yet this evolution is poorly supported by core systems. To adapt, billions in capex and opex are invested in risk transfer technologies. But billions are also wasted.
Leveraging our team’s cross-functional expertise, we see three absolute requirements for risk transfer systems in the future:
Technological agility. Companies are building rigid systems that will not flex easily to new market dynamics: leveraging what is known as a waterfall methodology, some IT leaders plan their entire solution upfront to the nth degree of detail, inventorying and mapping every little field for every scenario, before building anything. This “boil-the-ocean” methodology virtually guarantees an over-budget, over-engineered, underused system that will need to be replaced within a few years – if it ever actually makes it to production. New systems must be easy to evolve, connect, and reconfigure. They must start small with successful usage metrics, and expand from there in an agile manner.
Social connectivity. Given their complexity, risk transfers still rely on trust and relationships. Until they embrace that critical element, all placement systems will be relegated to just a necessary evil, an extra step that comes after risk transfers have been negotiated and structured. Accounting is important, but it helps less with business results than landing on the right placement structure collaboratively. Think braided organisations at the service of rapid (re)insurance. Digitally recreating and enhancing the social networks of risk transfer is what is needed now.
Quicker access to capacity. Practitioners must find the most relevant sources of coverage without delays, or risk losing deals. The system must not only take care of the administrative details, but also offer options and recommendations, and help all sides come together and bind. Placement performance, acceptance rates and quote response time must be tracked and communicated to improve performance. Brokers have a special role to play in that regard, to help curate and animate deal-focused networks. The right systems augment those people networks with networks of data and systems. They must also be inclusive of various sources of capacity – whether insurance, facultative or treaty reinsurance, ILS or other emerging forms.
Interested in the agile risk transfer and its social digitisation? Here is what you can do to explore that further:
• Check out a home-made video (literally) of Greg Boutin talking further about remote team and risk transfers, and a special trial offer for Relay Platform at youtu.be/QSgxGi7_Pvc
• Learn and read more on this topic, and Relay, at relayplatform.com, including our latest post on Digital Risk Transfers in Insurance & Reinsurance: Time to Act – but Act Smart