Insurers have ramped up their technology efforts massively over the past year, improving everything from customer portals to internal data analytics. But the other side coming into sharper focus now is insurers’ interactions with advisers, with many insurers investing significant resources into ensuring that advisers can interact with them easily and efficiently, and into setting up ‘referral pathways’ for customers to access advice.
Research has shown repeatedly that New Zealanders who get financial advice end up better off. However, poor legacy systems have often been a pain point for advisers dealing with insurers - something which Fidelity Life CEO Melissa Cantell said her company is looking to change quickly.
“My experience of many industries is that everyone has a technology challenge in some way, shape or form, but insurance and financial services seems to have more than many,” Cantell commented.
“There are many old legacy systems that were not built with today’s businesses or customers in mind, and we’re not any different to anyone else.”
“The old systems are just not fit for purpose any more, and they’re hard to get data out of - we’ve got so much information, but the insights just aren’t there because it’s so hard to get it out,” she explained.
“It’s hard for our people to work with lots of manual processes, which means more time handling process and less time helping customers. Then you have our advisers who are trying to connect with us, and it’s imperfect because our world isn’t great, and theirs is somewhere on their own spectrum.”
Fidelity Life is looking to roll out a new technology platform from the middle of this year - something Cantell said has been a significant project for the insurer for a number of years now, and will allow advisers to work with Fidelity Life on a ‘whole other level.’
“We have a new core platform which will have us migrating a big chunk of our business on to a brand new, clean, built-for-us platform,” Cantell said. “We’re moving everything across, and our entire on-sale book will be on that new platform.”
“It has many components to it, but one of the things we’re particularly excited about is our new adviser portal,” she added.
“The way our advisers work with us will be on a whole other level than it is now. Once that’s there and we’re clean, tidy and not managing the complexity of our own internal systems, we’ll start to think about what else we can do beyond that.
“We’ve already piloted the platform on part of our business internally and externally, and it’s all been going well, so we’ll soon be turning it on for everything.”
When it comes to education and advice, Southern Cross’s head of adviser networks Ryan Koppens said that, all too often, customers do their own research online, and this can often lead to even more confusion.
He said that although Southern Cross already covers a significant chunk of the population, it will be looking at how it can enhance its ‘referral pathways’ to advisers, especially when it’s clear that the customer would benefit significantly from adviser input.
“We’ve created a whole industry around asking people to sign up and get on board with Southern Cross,” Koppens said.
“People are often uncertain of their own situation and looking for a safe harbour, and the challenge of the industry is how to be there for them, and how to get them to make contact and reach out.”
“There’s a whole lot of information online now, and the people who are browsing through it are often ending up in an even more confused state,” he explained.
“So there’s a lot of opportunity there, and it’s up to us to think about how we can tap into that and provide a pathway for them to get the advice they need.”
Southern Cross Health Society currently insures over 880,000 people, but Koppens said that most Kiwis still don’t hold any kind of health insurance - something Southern Cross is hoping to change with the help of its adviser channel.
“A lot of New Zealand is already with us, but only three out of 10 Kiwis have health insurance,” he said.
“So our goal through corporate is to enable our employees to have a pathway to advisers, and we’re doing a lot of work to make sure we have those referral pathways in place to help the customer get to our adviser network.”