In 2008 the global insurance industry endured a crisis considered to be the most impactful financial crisis since the Great Depression.
As a result of this, governments introduced Solvency 2, an EU regulatory regime designed to integrate a robust system that will give policyholders greater confidence in the products of insurers. This has been adapted for South Africa through the Solvency Assessment and Management Regime (SAM).
“Regulators want to ensure in the event of any major economic crisis that the insurance companies have the necessary capital to continue operating and meet client obligations,” says Ian Gatley, Head of Data Management at Lombard Insurance.
“It’s a fundamental shift in how the management of insurance companies needs to determine what is a successful investment and what is not.”
Assurance in surety
Lombard Insurance is first and foremost a surety business. Gatley believes that SAM has encouraged insurance companies to look internally at its business processes and consider how best to improve them and better serve clients.
“It is important for us as a business to look at things differently. We can’t just look at the business from a profit perspective, we need to consider how we prioritise what’s important to the business,” says Gatley.
Lombard saw the rollout of SAM legislation as a catalyst for change, kickstarting a transformative process to become a more digital insurer.
“The regulation was an opportunity to collect information for the regulators and actually consider what value there could be in how we can use that information internally to make us more competitive as a business going forward,” adds Gatley.
Through digitalisation, Lombard is simplifying its entire business processes. Simplifying ‘big data’ is a major trend across the industry, through digital technologies such as Telenetics, commercial grade analog and digital technology used for transmitting data.
“The first step for any organisation when starting a data management journey is understanding how information flows through the organisation. You’ve got to consider where the data comes from, how we use it, where do we store it and finally, how are we ensuring that consumers of data can access the relevant information they need to make decisions,” adds Gatley.
Through the process, Lombard recognises the potential in digitalisation and data management, which is embodied by Gately, a member of the executive group with a core focus in data management.
“We can use this data to streamline our processes and as a result make more informed decisions as a business,” says Gatley.
It’s not about the money
Lombard has focused on projects involving data governance and master data
management, as well as focusing on self-service analytics and dashboarding.
The benefit of the digitalisation process is clear, by streamlining all of the processes the company can move forward as a market leader in the insurance sector.
This capacity for growth is what Gatley identifies as a key benefit for Lombard Insurance.
“It’s about the improvement of the service we can offer as a business to our brokers and clients,” he adds.
Cost reduction measures are commonplace across the industry, but Lombard is trying to look beyond that.
“It’s not about saving costs, it’s about taking the knowledge we have gained through this process and opening up the ability to grow as a business,” Gately explains.
One shared vision
With any company wide transformation there will be challenges along the way. Surprisingly, simplifying the technologies involved was considered one of the easier aspects.
“The technology side of things is actually the easy part. With any transformation process, you need to understand the vision and the desired outcomes of the business,” says Gatley.
“Communication and making the business divisions work closer together throughout the process, that’s where the challenges arise.”
A key component of digitisation is change management, Gatley works alongside the heads of the various divisions to advise how technology can help them grow their unique businesses.
“In order for the project to succeed, it’s absolutely critical that there’s an equal buy in from the business divisions and the IT divisions that are doing the work. We need to work together and understand exactly what those outcomes are and how can we help the businesses in meeting those requirements,” he adds.
As the head of Data management, how does Gatley respond to the ongoing boom in technology and innovation?
“We’ve spent a lot of time with our analyst team looking at the market and making sure that we are always aware of the trends so that we in the best position to serve our customers,” he says.
“We are continuously learning and growing through interactions with businesses, trying to understand what is needed to progress as a business.”
As data management becomes more pertinent, Gatley believes change is on the horizon.
“A change in corporate culture will be essential. All staff will be required to analyse and gain insight from the vast quantities of data in order to perform their daily functions,” says Gatley.
And what role will technology play in this change?
“Technologies such as machine learning and cognitive computing will dramatically change the role of the actuary and the underwriter as well as how insurers understand and underwrite risks,”
“The increased use of data will enable insurers to better understand their risks and create more personalised and customer centric products,” adds Gatley.
Partnership mentality rests within the core of Lombard, beginning with the biggest of partners -the client.
“Any insurance relationship is based on trust and insurance can only work on complete trust. It is absolutely critical that we are stay aware of the trust clients have in us and we respect that and do all we can to maintain those levels of trust,” Gatley concludes.