SCORviews hero image

Flexing to Stay Relevant
August  2019

Life insurance is a complex business. It’s always interesting to see experts from adjacent fields enter our industry expecting to quickly grasp the ways of life insurance only to discover the layers and layers of technical complexity that lie beneath the surface.

I hold the highest regard for the technical specialists in our industry who enable the rest of us to do our job – the product and valuation actuary, the finance whiz, the underwriter, medical director and IT developer. More recently this VIP list has grown to include statisticians, data scientists and machine learning engineers. We depend on this cast of highly specialized experts, each of whom plays an indispensable role.

But in an evolving landscape, it’s not enough to have a single skill no matter how valuable or fined tuned. Cross functional knowledge is a necessity. Agility is the order of the day. Underwriters must understand risk pricing and experience analysis. Actuaries need knowledge in statistics, data mining, predictive analytics & computer science. And so on…

Most importantly, each of us – specialists and generalists alike – needs to develop a deeper understanding of our end customers: what they need, what they value, what motivates them, what they expect, who they trust, who they will buy from, etc. And the truth is, we have a long way to go when it comes to knowing our customers and consistently meeting their needs.

This issue of SCORviews touches on both of these themes.
  • Peter Komsthoeft writes about the adjustments that underwriters need to make given their role in devising new selection protocols. It is vital, he says, that underwriters understand how mortality is measured, predicted and influenced. Margins between success and failure are small and what may seem to be trivial differences to the uninformed may be vital components to a new selection process.
  • In his article on innovation, Joe Sharp refers to a recent Wharton University study comparing fintech in China and the West. Firms in China prefer a broad, horizontal play with a wide range of product offerings. Chinese players, the study says, work towards developing a deep understanding of their consumers and leverage that to build products and services that encompass their entire digital journey.
Our industry is on the cusp of profound and irreversible change. Companies with creative, agile and collaborative professionals, the right partnerships and an unyielding commitment to knowing and serving their customers will have a big advantage in adjusting to an evolving life insurance landscape.