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HOW PENSION PROVIDERS CAN GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE WITH CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION

By Andrew Storey, Proposition Director, EValue

Change is afoot for the way pension providers communicate with their customers. Following itsRetirement Outcomes Review (ROR), which launched in June 2016, the FCA released its second consultation paper on the subject in January 2019. This asked pension providers to improve consumer engagement. Final regulations relating to the ROR will be announced in July 2019, and the FCA will give pension providers 12 months to comply. These regulations are likely to include a ‘wake-up’ pack every five years from age 50, in addition to the annual statement currently issued to customers. This will let consumers ensure they have a plan for their pension that will see them through retirement.

With so much customer-centric flux in the market, now is the ideal time for providers to consider how they give the best guidance and advice to customers. And not just to get ready for the July 2020 deadline, but also to develop a competitive edge.

The status quo

Customers are often segmented into three areas: pre-retirement, at retirement, and in retirement. While providers communicate with these audience segments in different ways, a more bespoke journey is needed. To serve savers better, and on an individual basis, providers should take a holistic approach to each customer’s journey. This is vital to foster a relationship with customers throughout their entire lives, and to encourage extra business from them.

In the at retirement space, many providers are simply currently pointing customers to the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS. Some providers have sections on their websites with guidance tools too. However, those who are either pre-retirement or in retirement usually receive nothing more than their annual statement. Figures show that there are 15.1 million active members of occupational pension schemes, 10.2 million with pensions in payment, and 15.8 million with preserved pension entitlement in the UK alone: a huge number of people saving into a pension with no form of help, guidance or attention.

Auto enrolment in the workplace started in October 2012 and has had a significant impact on the number of people with a pension and the number of pension plans in existence. But many of those auto enrolled in pension schemes may have no idea who their pension provider is. In addition, they will likely accrue, or have already accrued, multiple pots with different providers as they move to different employers. Research suggests the average person will work for six different companies in their working lives.

Levelling-up

Pension providers should do more than the bare minimum. Now’s the opportunity to do more  than meeting the basic ROR requirements and look at exactly what their customers need and want in retirement. Taking a holistic approach will enable them to do this. And it should go further than simply taking a bigger-picture approach to all aspects of a customer’s pensions journey. Providers need to consider their customers’ entire financial situation.

Pension providers tend to only consider the pension a customer holds with them. But the reality is that they are likely one of several providers the individual is using – whether out of choice, or through auto enrolment. Therefore, providers usually only look at what the customer can do with that specific pension amount.

In reality, people’s retirement decisions depend on more than one pot. They might have a final salary pension or other pots elsewhere. So, the sum invested with that provider might not be needed – and could be taken entirely in cash to help pay off their mortgage without compromising their financial security. To generate further business from these customers, providers should help customers understand exactly what they’ve got, and what outcomes this will provide. They should go above and beyond simply informing them as to what their pot of money holds, and how much they’ll be able to take each year to last the rest of that individual’s lifetime.

One way of doing this is to give customers access to an online automated advice service that provides options specific to them. This service should regularly touch base with the customer throughout their accumulation journey, in a format that suits them – for example via text alert, in the form of an app, or as a regular email. It should also help customers understand what extra information they need to build a full picture of their circumstances. The service will help them understand their situation, while giving them the opportunity to ask for help if they can’t locate certain information.

This isn’t just about customer experience and satisfaction. There’s a commercial incentive too. If a customer decides to move all their money into one place, they are likely to do so with the provider they have built the best relationship with – and the one that has provided them with the best support and customer service. According to PwC’s survey, 73% of respondents say customer experience is one of the key drivers of brand loyalty for them. A provider might initially identify a customer as being small because they have £10k in their pot, but they might also have £1m in three other pots – money that a provider would greatly benefit from being invested with them.

The gold standard

The gold standard that pension providers should aspire to is offering a financial buddy service. This could help pre-retirement customers set goals and receive regular updates to ensure they achieve the level of income at retirement they desire. It should also give those at retirement the tools to make the best possible decision for them, and update those in-retirement on their goals, so they can check their funds will still meet their retirement income needs. It could, for example, model a scenario that helps the customer understand how much extra cash they can take out in an emergency, or whether or not they can buy a new kitchen, and then how this may impact their future income.

By implementing a clear customer communication strategy, pension providers can both get ahead of the forthcoming regulations, and gain a competitive edge by building a valuable service for their customers. This service should help consumers both invest in their future and, by osmosis, also encourage them to invest further back into the provider. After all, it’s a win-win for both parties.

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Top 10

WHY BETTER PLANNING COULD BE THE INSURANCE INSURERS NEED

Adam Bimson, Chief Customer Officer, Vuealta

 

Insurance is predicated on the ability to plan effectively, to model accurately, and to predict the likelihood and impact of certain events. Whilst already facing significant regulatory, competitive, and customer disruption, the industry, like all others, has now been deeply disrupted by the pandemic. From an operational perspective, insurers have seen their workforces dispersed, their technologies stretched to the limit, and customers put under immense pressure – and in turn, that strain has been put on the insurers themselves.

Then there’s the increase in customers focusing on wanting to better protect themselves. Separate reports have found that the number of people making wills has risen at the same time as life insurance has seen a spike in interest. And for commercial lines, corporate customers are carefully scrutinising their current and future business disruption insurance, again with an eye on increasing their cover.

When is a growth in customers a problem? When you can’t handle each one properly. No business wants to fail due to too much success, but if insurers do not adapt rapidly, that is the risk they entertain. Whilst there may be an uptick in demand in some areas, the market is still awash with competition and tight margins.

Adam Bimson

Added to this are the demands of IFRS17, due to come into force in January 2023. That may seem a long way off, but the reporting requirements it places on insurers will require significant organisational, data and technological change, all of which needs to be started now.

 

Two challenges to overcome to achieve better insurance

This all points to the need for a fundamental shift in the way insurers operate in not one, but two areas.

Firstly, there is the need to adapt their operational model so that the effects of disruption, whether driven by the pandemic or regulation, do not impact the experience their customers receive.

Secondly, they need to reinvent their business so that the services and products they provide are both appropriate for customers and capable of withstanding future upheaval.

In both instances, technology, or rather the ability to consolidate, analyse and action data-driven insights through the use of technology, may offer the solution.

Why? Because as with so many things, the issues that insurers face are built on data. Being able to harness it gives them a much better chance of tackling those issues head-on. For instance, when it comes to operational models, better visibility (powered by data), combined with accurate scenario-based modelling and planning, will aid the development of a more agile organisation. Whether it’s adapting to a reduction in staff headcount as infections spike in different parts of the country or anticipating when customer service functions may be impacted by local lockdowns and increased restrictions. Being able to identify problems and react accordingly will be critical to delivering operational continuity and, therefore, unimpeded customer experience, and data lies at the heart of this.

Then there’s how it can be applied to evolving products and services for customers. Customers, whether consumers or businesses, are going to want to feel covered by their insurance – insurers will want to balance this with the need to not overexpose themselves to events that could appear out of nowhere. Here’s where the combination of accurate data use and the right digital tools, such as artificial intelligence-driven solutions, can help insurers take a major leap forward. Premiums can be adjusted, and more dynamic products tailored to the needs of customers can be developed.

Being able to use data more effectively is going to play a major role in complying with IRFS17, both in getting ready for its implementation and meeting its requirements in the years to come. Complying with a reporting standard will drive an investment in data and technology, but harnessed correctly, that investment can unlock wider benefits – the same commitment can be used to cover off all the challenges already covered.

In short, those that use technology effectively, and plan for scenarios appropriately, are more likely to build the types of products and services that fulfil both those objectives, and ultimately keep customers coming back.

 

Planning for the unpredictable

Much like other sectors, insurers need to revamp their business models. Technology, and the better use of data, offers a solution to both operational and customer experience challenges.

Planning for the unpredictable may seem impossible, but by using a variety of data sources, and more importantly, by being able to connect them all and read them effectively, insurers can ensure they continue to meet customer expectations while preparing their businesses for whatever comes next.

 

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Finance

GEOSPATIAL DATA VISUALISATION MAKES SENSE OF MASS OF COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE DATA

Heikki Vesanto, Manager GIS Data Science, LexisNexis Risk Solutions UK & I

 

Like most areas of the general insurance market, data, analytics and technology are helping commercial property insurance providers make faster and more accurate decisions based on a holistic view of risk.  The big difference in commercial property (and to an extent home insurance) is that it is quite literally a picture or map of risk that’s being created – right down to an individual property outline – through the evolution of desktop based geospatial data visualisation tools.

Knowing that visual imagery is more intuitive and speeds up the ability to assess risk, data visualisation tools developed specifically for the insurance sector have become increasingly sophisticated.  They help make immediate sense of the huge and growing volume of data at the market’s disposal.

This data includes the characteristics of a property (floors, height, roof type etc.); its location; the individuals behind the business; the crime and environmental risks including near real-time data on flood and river flows direct from the Environment Agency plus customer and policy data held within an insurance providers’ own databases.

Heikki Vesanto

All this data can now be analysed, aggregated and visualised in map form for use within the insurance continuum – marketing, pricing, underwriting, claims. It reveals where exposures and accumulations exist in an instant and shows insurance providers where there is capacity to write more business.  Fundamentally, the inclusion of all this data allows insurance providers to more accurately price each risk upfront relative to its unique profile.

The demand for this level of insight is only set to grow as commercial insurance providers face changing risks on two fronts. The first is climate change and the cost of claims emanating from extreme weather events. Profitability in commercial property insurance is significantly affected by weather conditions and a recent report suggests commercial property insurance rates were up around 20% on average in Q3 2020[i].

The second is the shift in the use of commercial property space, partially caused by the pandemic.  Surveys suggest that the enforced exodus of workers from offices could be permanent for at least part of the week[ii].  Indeed, several banks across Europe have confirmed they will be closing branches and asking staff to work from home[iii].   There are also questions over the future of town centres which were already in decline before COVID-19.

Understanding which insured properties are vacant versus occupied in a flood, fire or a severe storm, knowing roads closed due to fallen trees, where flood water will flow or how a fire in one building could spread to another is now possible through the evolution of geospatial data visualisation tools such as LexisNexis® Map View, enabling complex property data to be quickly and easily understood and acted upon.

When a weather event occurs, insurance providers can look at a specific geographical region, a postcode, an address or a single property outline, pulling on a wide range of data including live feeds from the Environment Agency.  This means that rather than wait for an influx of claims to assess the exposure to a climate event, they can upload their policy and claims data to visualise the risks and exposure for a whole book of business. They can understand which policyholders could be impacted and where on the ground resources need to be located.

The flexibility of the tools offered today makes it easy to filter down to the risks most of interest, focus on one property for underwriting purposes or a whole block of properties in the path of a coming storm.

The use of ‘live’ data also means that Estimated Maximum Loss and Potential Maximum Loss can be calculated.

Risk can be assessed as needed or a constant monitor created for a whole commercial property portfolio. Looking at a whole portfolio alongside past claims may also help insurance providers price more accurately and understand how they could help mitigate future claims and potential losses.

As well as supporting underwriting, pricing and claims management, with this visual depiction of risk, insurance providers can easily identify areas where they can sell more business in large cities and automatically see where they have areas of high concentrations of Sums Insured for reinsurance calculations.

Insurance specific geospatial data visualisation tools are enabling the insurance market to utilise the increasing availability of ‘live’ and new data sources related to commercial property risks.  This is helping the market to price with pinpoint accuracy, manage their portfolio and get on the front foot when a weather event hits to limit their losses and protect policyholders.

 

[i] https://www.artemis.bm/news/commercial-property-insurance-price-rises-accelerate-globally-in-q3/

[ii] https://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/london-office-market-collapses-amid-pandemic-deloitte-survey-finds/5109149.article

[iii] https://www.ft.com/content/a15f17d3-dc86-4030-85fe-74a29eb1fafa

 

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