How Insurers Can Turn Change into a Competitive Edge

Jul 15, 2016

Two weeks ago the country was plunged into uncertainty, as the country voted to leave the EU.  Although the vote was decisive the aftermath has been anything but. Much has been written and postulated about what will become of the UK but most of this feels like pure speculation, with the real truth being that everyone is in unchartered waters.  Where this leave us, only time will tell.  The public stance of the insurance industry has largely been along the lines of ‘Keep calm and carry on’, however behind-the-scenes there is (rightly) an acceptance that the industry needs to see this as a moment in which change needs to be embraced and understood.  So what should insurers focus on to make sure they not only survive but flourish?

Success, as ever will go to the companies that have the right strategy. The macro business environment will become (even) more complex and this will entail proper (re)assessments of company strategies. And dare I say it, many insurers will need to develop strategies that go beyond just ‘hitting a number’.

Action needs to follow strategy-setting and leadership will be absolutely key to inspiring people and ensuring that they effectively implement.  Execution is usually where strategy fails.  

The insurance industry is naturally resistant to change and leadership will need to manage talent effectively, building teams who have the attributes and tools to take change on. Through our work with claims teams, underwriters, brokers and senior management we see at first-hand how challenging the new environment is for people who have become accustomed to certainty.  Many are in denial about what is coming and will need to be supported.  Key to this will be that people are fully linked-in to the corporate strategy with clear understanding of how they contribute:  consistency will be essential.  Companies who think they can operate as loose coalitions of ‘hired guns’ will have a rude awakening.

Finally, institutional insurers will need to look at their business models and consider how they can be reinvented to be more adaptable, flexible outfits in future. Technology and innovation will be at the heart of change and could determine who survives and who doesn’t. 

Brexit is undoubtedly a spanner-in-the-works for business and the consequences will be unpredictable and far-reaching. But this is the new normal and preparing for a future of uncertainty will be vital if you are to weather the storms ahead.