The insurance adviser space has seen significant innovation over the past few years, but one industry leader says there is still a ‘fear’ of technology taking over adviser’s jobs. However, she believes this fear may be preventing advisers from adopting technology that could significantly boost their businesses.
Melanie Harding, head of operations - New Zealand at Willis Towers Watson said that when it comes to advice, customers will always want assurance around quality of service, and that is something chatbots will struggle to provide. However, she said investing in the right digital tools can be a significant boost to efficiency, and so advisers shouldn’t shy away from innovation and change.
“In our industry, there’s certainly a fear that innovation in a digital sense will take away from people’s jobs, and that’s a fear I that know I’ve seen,” Harding said.
“But I think what people forget about is that digital innovation can actually take away the things that they don't want to do - particularly on the administration side.”
“I recently read an article about technology and chatbots, and it said that what customers actually want is good advice and good service, and that’s always going to be coming from a person,” she explained.
“It’s not going to come from a bot or an algorithm. So the advisers should just do more of what they are already doing, and they shouldn’t be limiting themselves in terms of what they try.”
Harding said that insurance has not been a sector to fully embrace digital transformation in the past. However, she noted that the ones who will reap the benefits of innovation will ultimately be the customers.
“Change can be quite scary, and I know insurance is often seen as quite a “traditional” industry that is not necessarily pushing change,” Harding said.
“I think we need to flip that, because our customers are expecting us to deliver to them, but we’re not asking them what we’re missing, what we’re not doing for them, or what they would like to see. That’s an area where we can really improve. We need to listen to the customer more in terms of what they want from their digital experience.”
“Everyone uses things like social media now in some form, so of course clients have their own preferences,” she added.
“We need to understand them, we need to ensure that we’re delivering what they need, and that we’re not afraid to ask them that question.”