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Drastic measures needed if insurance sector is to reinvent itself, finds KPMG International report

Drastic measures needed if insurance sector is to...

Majority of insurers admit challenges extracting value from transformation initiatives; most say their transformation efforts have been less than ideal.


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Faced with disruptive economic, demographic and technological change, most insurers are struggling to reinvent their organizations for the future.  According to Empowered for the future: Insurance reinvented, a report released today by KPMG International, only half of insurers polled believe they are  capable of extracting and sustaining value from business transformation initiatives. Fifty-seven percent admitted that their transformation efforts to date have been less than ideal.

“Insurers have been trying to ‘transform’ their organizations for decades– yet very little has actually changed,” notes Mary Trussell, KPMG Global Lead Partner for Insurance Innovation & Change and lead author of the report. “If insurers are to truly ‘reinvent’ their business and position themselves for success in a world of disruptive innovation – they will need to make more fundamental changes to their business and operating models than ever before.”

The report was launched during the International Insurance Society’s Global Insurance Forum 2016 in Singapore (12-15 June) where industry leaders and executives gathered to discuss innovation and industry transformation.

Putting the customer first

According to the KPMG report, insurance executives clearly understand the urgent need for transformation.  However, it finds many insurers are more focused on implications of regulatory policy and may not be placing enough attention on changes in customer preferences and needs. Less than a quarter of respondents expect their operating model to be disrupted by changes in customer behavior.

“We’d suggest that customers should be the inspiration for insurers’ efforts to reinvent themselves,” says Mary Trussell. “In a highly regulated sector, treating changes in regulation as a springboard to enhance the business for customers rather than something to be endured distinguishes players at the top of their game. The data suggests that many insurers may not yet have their eyes on the ultimate prize.”

Strengths to build from

It’s a given that many insurers possess the skills and capabilities required to bring about incremental change in their organization. More than half (53 percent) said they were capable of achieving short-term transformation wins.

But there is a big difference in achieving a sustainable transformational outcome, finds the report. “When it comes to enterprise-wide strategic change – the type that truly leads to companies being reinvented – it takes a much broader view and a much more strategic approach than most insurers have needed for past initiatives,” says Gary Reader, Global Head of Insurance, KPMG International.

Applying technology to transformation

The report finds that insurance executives increasingly view technology as a catalyst for change. Forty-seven percent said that new mobile platforms and apps were forcing change in their business and creating new opportunities for transformation. Forty-five percent said the same about social networking and collaboration and 41 percent sad the same about data and analytics.

“In some cases, technology can act as a catalyst as the introduction of telematics did for usage based insurance -- you can’t let technology drive the bus, but you also don’t want it to overtake you,” notes Mary Trussell.

Looking for new ideas

Around a third of respondents to the KPMG survey noted that they were watching organizations outside of the insurance sector, and those with disruptive technologies in order to find inspiration to help them reinvent their organizations. The report finds that insurers are increasingly taking ideas, approaches and even talent from other sectors to help improve their effectiveness.

“What’s important” noted Gary Reader, “is to find ways to compete with other leading organizations vying for consumers’ attention, not just other insurers.”

About the survey

For Empowered for the future: Insurance reinvented KPMG International, through Forbes Insights,  surveyed more than 70 insurance executives, from around the world, to find out about their recent transformation initiatives, their existing capabilities and their perceptions of the biggest risks and barriers they face.  Nearly half of respondents from the insurance sector originated from Europe (48%), followed by the Americas at 33 percent and Asia Pacific at 19 percent. The report combines the findings of that survey with the insights and perspectives of KPMG’s global network of insurance professionals as well as insights and ideas from industry and transformation experts.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have more than 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

For further information:

Kent Miller
Global Communications
KPMG International
Tel: +1 908-313-5037

Meredith Evans
Global Insurance
KPMG International
Tel: + 416 451 2541

© 2018 KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. All rights reserved.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the personal opinions of the interviewees and authors based on their personal experience working as Auditors in the industry and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.

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