On January 16th, ActionIQ hosted a fascinating thought leadership breakfast, “Taking a Customer-Centric Approach to Insurance and Wealth Management,” at the a16z offices in NYC. It was a lively discussion led by true industry experts, with attendees including BNY Mellon, One Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley and more.
Market Forces Driving Change
Gary Bhattacharjee of Infosys kicked it off discussing the imperative of AI in the wealth management sector—where an entire industry built to serve an older, wealthy population is now pivoting to serve the “mass affluence” of the younger millennial generation. It’s a larger market demanding far more digital enablement and greater scale, while also facing downward pressure on traditional fee structures and high-touch advisor-to-client relationships.
Aaron Tellier of Merkle highlighted the challenges of hyper-competition in the insurance sector, where the advantages in customer acquisition and customer loyalty go to the firms who can intelligently process data the fastest—responding immediately to individual prospect and customer needs, and heading off churn early by using leading indicators within their customer data.
Factors for Success in the New Economy
As a result of the seismic changes in insurance and wealth management, a clear set of winners and losers will shake out in the coming years. Organizations who succeed embracing digital, AI and the cloud will come out ahead. Those who continue with the status quo will lag.
Insurance and wealth management have typically been slow to embrace technology—often attributed to compliance, security and privacy concerns. But enterprising robo advisor firms, for instance, have succeeded in carving out a space where tech is doing the human advisory portion of the work which could previously only be done by banks with large teams.
The Changing Risk-Reward Equation of Technology
Regulations have come a long way in recent years—financial services firms are now able to capitalize on the myriad benefits of the cloud including scale, reduced cost, enriched data insights, and new capabilities. On top of it all, the prevailing wisdom today is that security in the cloud exceeds the capability of what most firms can manage behind the firewall.
But technology needn’t be the first step to transformation. Other firms have come at the challenges of the experience economy starting with company culture and later embracing technology to support it. USAA, for instance, was one of the first in the insurance space to introduce a “customer culture,” naming a chief customer officer and focusing intensely on good customer service and customer management. With that in place, they are now intently working on shoring up their data foundation and creating data-driven, unified experiences across channels.
Bold Innovation and Practical Solutions
The demands of the modern customer have opened up the pathways to cultural and organizational change, as well as the pathways to digital transformation. Either way, rewards will come to those willing to change—both at the corporate level and for individuals and their careers. In everything you do, “be curious,” says Bhattacharjee. “The types of jobs people are doing are changing fast…the only way to keep up is to constantly do broader things…the only deficiency is the power of imagination.”
But headwinds still remain. “The lack of consolidated, consistent data remains a problem,” adds Bhattacharjee. In fact the problem is amplified because there’s more data coming from more places than ever before—and the speed at which new data becomes available is faster than businesses can bring it together. This can put a wrench in the works for digital innovation, analytics and AI.
But “let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good,” says Tellier. “ You can do a tremendous amount of predictive intelligence with semi-perfect data. You can do the next ‘big thing.’” Businesses should seek a clear definition of purpose—specific use cases they are looking to achieve, and then have their data and technology plans fall in line behind them.
Tellier coaches generally against academic and theoretical exercises. “Don’t trust the consultants,” says the consultant. “What I mean…is the ‘non-practitioner consultants.” Tellier goes on to recommend leaning on practical expertise, because theory breaks down in the real world where messy data, complex org structures, and legacy processes require real-world approaches for implementing change.
“Don’t move the the cloud for just for the sake of it,” says Tellier. CDPs, for instance, were designed to bring together rich customer data to support specific use cases around personalized and consistent multichannel communications. That’s a reason to bring your customer data to the cloud.
More Insurance, Wealth Management, Marketing and Technology Insights
Our panelists went on to cover a range of topics, delivering insights that could only be gleaned from their years of experience in the sector. These included:
- How AI will transform the industry within 5 years
- Exemplary leaders in today’s market, and what to emulate
- Importance of AI, cloud and digital in modern finserv
- How long-established firms can transform to compete and win
- How to balance regulatory and privacy concerns vs. innovation
Stay tuned for a full length video of the session where you can dig into all the details.
A special thank you to our incredibly knowledgeable and experienced panelists for sharing their valuable insights, to our audience for their insightful questions and observations to help close out the session, as well as ActionIQ’s own Ryan Greene for moderating the panel.
Gary Bhattacharjee is VP & Global Head of the AI Practice at Infosys. He previously served as executive director and head of strategy and analytics for Morgan Stanley’s wealth management business.
Aaron Tellier is EVP Wealth Management & Insurance at Merkle. He previously served as a marketing innovator and leader at Merrill Lynch and Bank of Montreal.