Last week was an interesting one for those exploring the disruptive force of technology in the insurance market.
On Wednesday 13th, XL Catlin hosted a group of 'InsTech-'ers who would hear pitches from industry incumbents about what they would like to see from Tech to enhance the sector. The very next day saw StartupBootCamp's first insurance cohort pitch to the investor community after 13 weeks intensive development. The differences in attitude and approach could not be more stark.
Let's begin with the Old Guard. Representing the London market at the InsTech event were senior professionals from across Reinsurance, Wholesale Broking, Lloyd's, and Retail Insurance - all of whom had been asked to give a five minute presentation on what they would like to see from technology. Of the 6 speakers, only one really discussed Client/Customer engagement, with much of the rest of the debate concerning market modernisation and process enhancement. Please don't think I'm pointing accusatory fingers here - there is no doubt that automation, modernisation and standardisation of processes will benefit not just the market, but ultimately customers. as cost savings will be able to be made and delivered to purchasers of insurance protection. One worries though that perhaps the blinkers were on it terms of what true innovation and technological development can deliver.
Less than 24 hours later, and several of those that attended the InsTech Reverse Pitch were together again, only this time in a very different setting, and with an altogether more enthusiastic atmosphere. We had stepped away from the City, past Spittalfields Market, and into the fantastic Christ Church venue, a modernised work and event space catering to all-comers. The SBC team put on a slick show, with the hugely energetic Founders and CEO's from SBC's insurance cohort answering questions Customers had asked. A primarily youthful group of entrepreneurs had developed alternative ways for insurance to respond to real needs, delivering solutions based on an understanding of who the customer is, and the realities of their lives in the digital age. The short pitches they delivered were singularly engaging and enthusiastic - and actually spoke to a room full of people who weren't necessarily from the insurance sector. Will all of them have gotten the investment they were after? I don't know, but circulating the room after the event, I could see most of the businesses were overwhelmed by the positivity of the feedback.
Working in a boutique search firm, after spending five years with a much larger recruitment company, I can see the value of different approaches. It is true in all industries I believe: 'different horses, for different courses...' What stood out for me last week is that the InsTech-ers are uniformly putting the customer at the centre of all their thinking, whereae the same is not always true of the traditionalists...