“Following the investments that we’ve made in our products, I have no hesitation in saying that our product suite is now the strongest that it has ever been.”
Looking back on the year that was for Polaris, MD Vivek Banga (pictured) highlighted some of the standout figures from its most recent trading update – and shared what’s next for the firm.
Polaris was strengthened by its £1.5 million investment in the infrastructure of its digital trading platform, imarket, he said, and its £1 million investment in the development of its rating engine, ProductWriter. Among the usage figures published, the firm revealed that ProductWriter was utilised by 80 clients and revealed a 21% increase in insurance premiums processed through its imarket platform, which reached £394 million in 2023.
“The first thing that jumps out for me is that the products and services we provide to the industry are quite essential to digital trading,” he said. “Therefore, the industry expects us to keep investing in them, so they can support the industry’s aspirations. Secondly, the growth we’ve seen in imarket volumes and Live-Chat volumes shows that the boundaries of digital trading are continuously being pushed.
“Insurers and brokers are using digital trading more and they’re also using it for trading more complex business. And Live-Chat really helps with that because if you’re digitally trading something which is a bit complex, having the ability to have a secure conversation, and clarify any doubts or issues in a very secure, auditable way really helps.”
Given the stakeholder-owned nature of Polaris, its strong relationships across the market are no surprise to Banga but he shared how its recent usage figures have cemented the power of these partnerships. That industry-ownership piece remains a real point of differentiation, he said, and in 2023, its industry supporters spent over 1,000 hours collaborating across its product forums.
He noted that it’s this continual engagement which allows his team to respond to what the industry wants in terms of product investment and the continual evolution of the functionality of these products and services. This level of interaction and engagement is a special thing to behold, he said, and Polaris never takes these relationships for granted but is always finding new ways to support and nurture them.
“The various forums and meetings we hold with the industry are always really well attended,” he said. “And to a certain extent, history helps because we’ve held these for several years and people know what to expect and therefore they proactively contribute both in terms of establishing what should be discussed and then, when the discussion is happening, their own thoughts and insights.”
In addition, he said, these meetings are well attended because people recognise the importance of voicing what they need from Polaris’ services.
“Another reason why our engagement is so high goes back to our industry ownership model,” he said. “There are some projects which I think we are quite uniquely placed to be able to coordinate and manage for the industry. For instance, if you look at our upgrade of imarket to version 11 last year, that project involved coordinating with IT and business teams across various insurance organisations, as well as the teams that work for various software houses, and then also the teams at IBM, who write the code and maintain imarket.
“I think we are quite uniquely placed to manage that kind of multi-part project where you’re coordinating with quite a few different organisations both without the industry and externally. Similarly, when standards are upgraded, so if there are changes in the insurance legislation, which need to be reflected in the digital trading standards – again, that needs coordination across multiple companies and providers and we are placed to hold those meetings, to get everybody’s views and to anonymise and share them as needed.”
Banga highlighted that the business is looking to continue supporting the market the way it did in 2023. There are three essential pillars to that ambition, he said, and first on the agenda is ensuring that the products and services it delivers for the industry continue to perform as expected – while continually evolving in line with the industry’s requirements.
Feedback and engagement also remains as critical as ever in 2024.
“Tell us where the pinch points are and we will keep addressing them,” he said. “We are very comfortable with a model where we do some proof-of-concept type projects with one or two clients to test a few things out and, if they work well, roll those out to be adopted by the wider industry.
“Finally, it’s all about continuing the collaboration we have with the industry and to keep building on that to ensure our engagement with the industry remains as strong as ever.”