Hello everyone and welcome to today’s ICMIF webinar in our series of Young Leader webinars on “The future of mutuality”. We’re delighted that so many people have registered for today’s webinar and that many of you are joining us live: especially at such a turbulent and uncertain time for many of us. I know there are many ICMIF members in areas that have been highly-affected by the coronavirus and behalf of all of ICMIF, we hope that yourselves, your colleagues, your families remain safe, well, and healthy.
Before we get to today’s presentations from Liz, Phillippa, and Tamara, the three Young Leaders that will be presenting today, I’m well aware that many of you are first-time attendees on ICMIF webinars, so I’m going to use this opportunity to give you a bit of an introduction to ICMIF Young Leaders.
This is an initiative that was started in 2016 and it’s aimed at young and emerging professionals at ICMIF member companies. This network aims to provide a professional and personal development opportunity for young employees of ICMIF members in a number of ways. By exposing them to some global issues impacting the insurance industry and best practice relating to mutual and cooperative insurers. It also provides the chance to collaborate and learn with other young leaders at other ICMIF members, the chance to meet and learn from other senior executives and CEOs. And finally, and almost most importantly, it helps us provide a new and diverse voice to various ICMIF events or research from the perspective of the younger generation. That’s something that is especially important as we look at the customers’ and employees’ expectations of the future.
In terms of what ICMIF Young Leaders does, we have three levels of activities. We have a Young Leaders Forum, which is made up of 14 young leaders from our members and this acts as the learning and steering group for all of our activities. Three of the Young Leaders that are joining this today, sit on this board. We also have the Young Leaders Programme, which runs alongside and it’s integrated within the ICMIF Biennial Conference, our flagship event for CEOs and C-Suites. We’ve done this twice, in 2017 and 2019, and we have had in total over 100 attendees: 55 in London in 2017 and 50 in Auckland last year. Finally, we have a wider network of young professionals that connect on webinars and in a private LinkedIn group that we have set up.
So as I mentioned before, the Young Leader Programme that we held in 2019, had 50 attendees from 14 countries. Not only did they have the chance to attend the whole of the main Conference and the chance to listen to the agenda and network and social events, they also had separate breakfast sessions and networking events exclusively for them. These sessions were focused on strategic thinking and cultural change. We also had a CEO breakfast session where we joined by seven CEOs from companies within the ICMIF membership for one hour of roundtable discussions. And also, we had four Young Leaders that were part of the main agenda in Auckland and they were on stage presenting on behalf of their organizations.
So hopefully that’s a bit of a background on ICMIF Young Leaders and explains why we are here today and where the three attendees, who were in Auckland as part of the Young Leaders Programme will share their key learnings and the main themes from the conference. We will split today into three parts. Firstly we will focus on agility and innovation; then we will look at responsible business and sustainability; and then finally looking at prevention and how to leverage digital technology to improve customer relations.
So now I’m very pleased to hand over to today’s first speaker, who will speaking on embedding operational agility and innovation: Liz Carraro from Securian Financial in the US. Liz is Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships. And not only did she attend the first ICMIF event in Auckland, she was actually one of the four Young Leaders that were on stage presenting about the agile transformation at Securian. Liz, thank you for joining us, and over to you.
Thank you Ben. And good morning, afternoon, evening, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I will apologize in advance if a small child interrupts me at any point. We are, like many others, quarantined at home this morning. I’ll also add a very happy St Patrick’s Day to any of those who might be celebrating.
As Ben said, my name is Liz Carraro. I am the Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships here at Securian Financial. That title doesn’t mean a whole lot to many people. So my team really looks at emerging companies, emerging technologies, and emerging consumer trends and tries to drive more experimentation throughout our entire enterprise. We are based in Minnesota in the United States and we have been serving customers, this year is actually our 140th anniversary. We operate in a mutual holding company structure, and we are mostly known as a life insurance company. However, we manufacture a wide variety of financial services products that are distributed through advisors, through financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, as well as through employers.
I had the privilege to join other leaders on the phone in Auckland last fall through what was my first ever ICMIF event. And I also had the opportunity to speak a little bit on the topic at hand here. So how do we embed innovation and agile into our organization in response to a rapidly evolving insurance market?
The first question that I really wanted to focus on is kind of, why the buzz of innovation? So as I mentioned, Securian has been around for 140 years. Many of the other cooperative mutual companies who spoke at the November conference have also been around for 100+ years. And to exist for that long, inevitably means that we have been innovative and we have evolved over time. I doubt that any company looks the same as they did 100 years ago.
It always begs the question of, what is driving this intense focus on agility and innovation? And I think it’s a really important question because if you think through the companies that you probably consider particularly innovative or agile, they don’t necessarily have an innovation team. They’re not necessarily doing some of the things that we are. One of my favourite examples is the magic band at Disney parks. So if any of you have been to a Disney park in the last 10 or so years, hopefully none of you have been in the last week or so, you know that you wear a magical bracelet that works as a pass to get on rides. It serves for payments and a whole lot more. This wasn’t the invention of an innovation team, per se, this was simply the park experience team doing their job.
Why do we have this intense focus on innovation and agility in the first place? And there are several factors that were mentioned during the conference, which I have up here on the slide. Emerging technologies, so we have machine learning algorithms that are allowing insurers to make faster, more complex decisions than previous human-based methods. Particularly in places like underwriting or claims. There’s new competition. It takes a lot of capital to start a net new insurance company, but we’re seeing a proliferation across the globe of emerging companies that are finding just new ways to sell insurance products without being an insurance company themselves.
There are changes in consumer behaviour. Many of the speakers throughout the conference spoke to demographic shifts, be it an increase in wealth gap, a few of the insurers from Japan spoke about the impact of an aging population on their business. There are many factors at play here impacting our industry. The good news perhaps, is that we aren’t the first industry to see this massive level of change. We’ve been through this when it comes to entertainment, to travel, to retail, and they’re even seeing more in broader financial services and banking.
How are mutual and cooperative insurers responding to these changes? Securian is a US-based insurer, as I mentioned, who only two years ago expanded into Canada. So we have limited global reach. And one thing that really stood out to me from the conference was how, despite the fact that many of the insurers present, clearly with a very global footprint, very different markets, very different business models, different products, nearly all companies that got up on stage are employing several of the same tactics to address innovation and agility.
Employees are being trained on design thinking and lead start-up methodologies. They’re exploring corporate venture funds to invest in emerging insuretech players. They’re hosting hackathons, or partnering with external companies to solve business challenges. And so, a challenge to all of us is to not lose the ability to think critically and challenge some of these activities. No one of these things is bad. In fact, they can all have a huge impact on your business. But if we get too caught up in these activities and not the actual outcome, we’ll miss the mark. And not every insurer who takes all of these steps is magically going to become innovative. It’s relatively easy to host a hackathon. It’s hard to change the ethos of a 140 year old company.
Ben asked me to speak a bit about what Securian is doing in particular when it comes to embedding innovation and agile into our model. And when we think about innovation and agility, we really think about transformation. And there are three parts to our transformation here at Securian Financial. The first is strategy, so how we create value to our members and customers. And we spend a lot of time ensuring that our so-called, innovation activities, be it hackathons or emerging technology research or partnerships with insuretech companies are closely aligned to our corporate strategy. Our innovation lab was in fact born out of our last five year strategic plan. And this has helped us avoid some common pitfalls, not all, but some of the common pitfalls of what many like to call innovation theatre.
The next is culture. So our environment and the ways in which we work. This too was a common theme throughout the entire ICMIF Conference. If your organization is not innovative, you cannot change that without looking at your culture. This is a large focus for Securian at the moment. One thing we have implemented was a focus on three critical behaviors that we want all employees to exhibit. One of which is experimentation and I think that goes hand in hand with innovation. How do we try without the fear of failure? How do we articulate clear hypotheses for our work and quickly test whether or not those are in fact true? This could be testing a new distribution model. This could be testing a new product or value proposition for our customers.
The third is our operating model. So how we run our business and how do we empower and enable teams to deliver new value to our customers? And this is really where agility comes in. And we are both focused on agility as in flexibility and being able to pivot our focus and teams quickly, but also agile from a software development methodology. So within our technology department, we are in a multi-year journey to scale agile teams. And our goal is that we are able to deliver software or digital experiences that are lined to value and not just technology stacks, that we know the value we are delivering and we’re able to demonstrate the ability to pivot and react to customer and business needs. And we have a customer that fosters collaboration and that our teams are self-sufficient and they can effectively deliver value without multiple dependencies.
The reality is that like everything else I’ve discussed, this isn’t easy. This only happens when a lot of things align. Apologies for the slides jumping around. This requires us to focus on our people, so making sure we have the right people with the right skills. It requires us to focus on our technology, so our across the enterprise effective to allow for automation. Our processes, where we’re using a common language in how we work and measure progress. And then lastly, structure. So our team’s operating in a way that allows them to deliver the most value in the most effective way.
That was a very brief overview but I think you will hear some more themes from some of my friends here on the phone. But in closing, I just want to share that we’re doing a lot of things because no one activity will make you particularly innovative or agile. And not to lose sight on your corporate strategy and most certainly do not ignore your company’s culture.
All of this in and of itself is one giant experiment. We are doing a lot of the same things across the globe and operating in similar ways, but what works for one company may not work for you. So please don’t be afraid to keep trying and keep experimenting. And just because you attempt one thing and it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it again. So I hope that was helpful. Ben, please let me know if there are any questions and thank you all for the time.
Thank you Liz. We’ve got a couple of questions here, a couple of them we’ll save for the end. I just have one immediate question after your presentation that come to light a more since we were together in Auckland. And it’s about AM Best, the rating agency, that’s just now putting innovation as a criteria in how it rates companies. I know in the US market especially, the rating are very important to insurance companies. I just wanted to know your feelings about that and any sort of new initiatives or importance that you’ve stressed into innovation and how that’s embedded within Securian Financial?
Good question. I will answer this on a personal level, this is Liz as an individual, not necessarily Liz as a representative of Securian Financial. So as you mentioned, the rating agencies are hugely important to us. It’s a giant value proposition to our channel partners, to our customers, and we take great pride in that. We have always been an incredibly highly rated company. I really appreciate what AM Best is trying to do here. The underlying desire to show that you have to try more, you have to try new things. If you couldn’t tell from up above, I’m always sceptical of people overly focusing on innovation. You wouldn’t rate Google on some calculation of how innovative they are, you rate them by the value that they are delivering.
I am concerned with how the interpretation of what AM Best is trying to do, what that will result in. And my fear is it will result in new activities that aren’t necessarily delivering value to customers. I think you will inevitably see a lot of focus on activities, versus true output that is going to change the nature of our industry for the better. I think it becomes innovation for innovation’s sake and puts a lot of focus and pressure as if there was one team or one group that can be innovative at a company, versus how do you embed that throughout your entire culture?
I think that’s a great way of putting it. Innovation becomes company-wide, rather than just put out into an innovation lab or an innovation hub as you do sometimes. I’m going to ask you one more question before we move on. The question is, how long have you been working on innovation and the culture change that it implies?
Good question. So I would say innovation, as a standalone focus and our innovation team per se at Securian have been around for nearly three years now. We are still relatively early in this journey compared to other companies, both within insurance and external to our industry. Our cultural change really became a huge focus starting last summer. So this, again, is very new for us. We realized that we were performing quite well, so it’s not as though as something was horribly wrong and we needed to change, but we recognized that while we were at our peak, that would not always be stable. And so what could we do to ensure we would continue to be at our peak and continue to excel and see great strategic growth? And part of that was acknowledging that organizationally and culturally we needed to evolve.
The second half of last year, throughout the entire organization there was a very large organizational change that allowed us and allowed our teams to be more aligned to the end consumers that they serve, versus just by product line. And then with that came the focus on culture transformation. And so we have the three critical behaviors that I mentioned earlier, experimentation being one of them. We also have employees throughout the company that we’re calling culture champions that are all level of the companies, we have tenure ranging from people who have been there for less than a year, versus people who’ve been with Securian for decades. And they’re really tasked with, frankly, calling out a lot of our leadership when they’re looking at things the old school way. In serving our employees, we found a few areas where we really needed to focus on our culture. And so they’re a little bit of the culture cops, not in a negative way, it’s also to inspire people to change the way in which they’re working.
Excellent. Thank you Liz. If anyone has any more questions for Liz, please send them in and we will get to them towards the end of the webinar. Now, in the spirit of being agile, unfortunately we’re having a couple of connectivity problems getting Phillippa back online. So we are going to skip ahead to Tamara Van Weverberg from P&V in Belgium. Tamara is a Market Research and Customer Insights Expert and the two topics that Tamara’s covering is going to be digital technology and how to leverage that in order to improve and strengthen customer relations and also the organizational shift from protection to prevention. Two issues that were embedded within the conference agenda.
Tamara Van Weverberg:
Thank you Ben for the introduction and hello everybody. I am pleased to talk about my learnings from the conference. So, offering protection to customers is the core business of an insurer of course. But what I found really striking to discover in Auckland is that in all of the different countries, given the different cultures and economic circumstances, insurers are swifting their core business objectives from protection to prevention, with the driving force behind it to serve the customer even more.
In countries with a more difficult economical context, prevention is nearly a basic need and is required to avoid poverty as much as possible. We had a lot of cases and testimonials in Auckland that really opened up my eyes and it proves a need of a good and trustful insurer with the right values. And this we only find within mutuals and cooperative insurers. In higher developing countries, prevention goes together with creating more value for the customer by offering digitalization and technology. I will come back to this on how we at P&V are also going that direction and what Sophie, our Board Member, had presented in Auckland.
But for me it was very clear that each of the markets, whatever their economic circumstances, they’re all putting prevention as a key objective in front in order to straightening the customer relationship and to build trust. So we all have the same goal.
An amazing experience in Auckland was the breakfast sessions we had with the CEOs. I had the honour to had a chat with the CEO of the LB Group of Denmark and I liked a lot their point of view about a future of mutualities. “Together we will make insurance redundant.” It’s a new purpose that drives their strategic decisions and for me, it was really striking to have that point of view. There will be no claims in the future, so is this a bad thing? No. It’s a good thing. We have to embrace the future. We don’t own the ecosystem of the customer, the customer is free and a customer is always seeking what is giving them comfort.
The customers will be a partner to us in the future, they have to know we will have their back also in a environment so we can no longer just push everything through, it will be the customer that pulls and takes whatever they need and want. And that is, for me, really true. We don’t the ecosystems, it is the customer who decides. But we, we can have a positive impact in future also beyond insurer’s relationships with our customer. So it’s all about earning the trust of a customer is a changing society. To do that, we at P&V work on evolutions in both insurance services and also interactions to be part of the ecosystems where our customers expect us to be.
We are preparing to take part of these ecosystems while encouraging prevention and sustainable services through an adapted offer. Simple modeler connected and adapted to a sharing philosophy. And secondly, to make sure we can, we are also working on a new interaction model with brokers and customers driven by a good digital integration and stimulating a phygital approach. Phygital, which means a mix between digital and humanized contact, just depending on the needs of our customers and our partners.
I will give some concrete examples of how our offer today is all ready and where digitalization and technology straighten our customer relationship and build trust. So first, we have built up a usage based insurance for young drivers, starting from the inside, car insurances are very expensive for younger people because we consider them as a high risk. By making insurances more accessible for younger people, we can stimulate good behaviour but also we can reward our younger drivers and attract them to come to P&V. So what we do, we offer them an instant reduction on their coverages. This makes younger people more inclusive and gives them access to good insurance. We offer them also additional services like localization of vehicle in case of theft and car crash tracking, crash assistances, and so on. This all is combined with prevention measurements and gamifications tailored to their driving behaviors. So a responsible driver can win rewards like gift vouchers and cinema tickets and so on.
The second example we offer is an application to facilitate finding trustful repairers in Belgium. In Belgium, it’s sometimes difficult to find good expertise repairers, so we have created a good network over time and by the help of technology, we are also able to offer this value to our customers.
P&V Group is working on new offers, but I also heard in Auckland a lot of amazing cases that goes into the same direction like for example at Royal London (UK) and Unipol (Italy). At P&V, we are engaged on a huge transformation plan that will bring us in the right direction which goes from evolving towards a more customer-centric environment solutions and a equal system centric environment and an experimental mindset so we can test and learn on a more agile style. Focus more on prevention and not just on protection. Reassure also omnichannel and enable phygital interaction, making it much more easier also for the customer and our partners by building simple products driven by data. And last but not least, reshaping also our platforms towards an open architecture,
But all these changes that are really, really big changes for us, have a huge impact on our people. We are very conscious about this at P&V. We know that a key enabler to realize our ambitions is the ability to change of our people internally, our cultural change. At the conference in Auckland this point also came back in many of cases, Liz just mentioned it also. It’s really important, we need to treat our customers as a real human, not as a number, but we need to do the same thing with our own people also to make the magic happen. It’s people above anything else, empowering people, customers, partners, and also our own staff members is key to enhance customer experience in insurances and also beyond. Thank you all.
Thank you Tamara. Again, please if you’ve got any questions for Tamara, send them in and we’ll either ask it to her now or at the end of the webinar. I have had a couple in, Tamara. Firstly, how are P&V trying to develop that cooperative relationship with their customers through digital channels?
Tamara Van Weverberg:
So at P&V, I’m especially are working now on an online community. So I’m trying to mix all different research methodologies that are possible so we can do face to face interviews, but also on a digital way, we will have soon our own online community where we can at any time be in interaction with these customers and do some research with them or co-create on the new ID, have him put on communication, the sky’s the limit.
Another question almost closely related, how do you predict that P&V’s distribution channels will change as you begin to serve more millennial customers?
Tamara Van Weverberg:
I don’t think it will change a lot, so I cannot predict the future. But it will be a modus where digital will be the first channel. Everything that the customer can find on the digital way, he will do it in the future. When he will need advice and some personal touch or some help with his claim, our agents, our brokers will still be there. That’s just the strength also of having these different distribution channels, we think, at P&V.
Thank you Tamara. Again, please send any questions in and we will pose that to Tamara and Liz. Unfortunately, Phillippa still hasn’t been able to connect, so unfortunately we’re just going to have to continue this webinar with just Liz and Tamara. Phillippa was going to be speaking about responsible business and integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into business. I know Liz and Tamara have thought about this topic as well, so I’m just going to give them the opportunity to perhaps share some of their personal thoughts on this topic about how mutual/cooperative insurers can act as responsible business as a way to differentiate from others in the market.
Liz, perhaps I can go to you first to hear some of your thoughts on this theme that was very relevant and highly present throughout the Auckland conference.
Sure. So this actually was one of my biggest learnings and takeaways from the conference. I was aware of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but when I’ve seen our peers within the United States in particular speak about their corporate mandate and the social good that they’re able to do because they are a cooperative or mutual company, I haven’t seen it directly correlated to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals prior to the conference. And my biggest question, and it was acknowledged by several companies present in Auckland, was I think that’s long been a benefit of cooperative or mutual companies, that they are able to focus on a greater cause or greater good. But what I’ve been witnessing in particular in the United States, is an increase in corporate social responsibility across the board. So it doesn’t matter if you’re the largest bank in the world, or if you are a cooperative credit union, you are focused and sending the message and marketing the message of the good you are doing, be it for the environment, for children, for education.
And so I think it will continue to be a focus, as it always has been for cooperative and mutual companies, but I think there is going to be a challenge to get that message heard by consumers when really large companies are no longer marketing necessarily the products that they serve, but they’re marketing the good that they do in the community. So right here in our own backyard, target the second largest retailer here. They market not just clothes and groceries, they market how much they invest in the education in our schools. You’re continuing to see advertisements from banks and other companies of their employees planting trees, not their products. And so I think this will continue to be a trend. I think it’s really important, not just for customers, but also for employees and potential employees who want to see that their employer’s doing good and has a social focus and ethos. And I think frankly it’s going to be a challenge for mutual and cooperative companies who may not have the same resources to be able to share that message the way they’ve been able to in the past.
Excellent point. And Tamara, anything to add on the topic of sustainability and responsible business?
Tamara Van Weverberg:
We at the P&V Group are also working on this to make our goals and actions more visible to everybody, because we do a lot of things but it’s not communicated, it’s not known. We can certainly play a bigger role in the future. I think, and thinking for instance also about making links more obvious between the goals and the actual products. Like for example, life insurances and in particular good health and wellbeing of people. There is a link that is possible in future that we can leverage on.
Excellent. That brings us nicely to the second question that I wanted to ask both of you. Which themes and topics from the conference do you think that mutual and cooperative insurers can leverage in order to gain a future competitive advantage? Liz, you briefly touched on this…
That was probably my biggest takeaway, an “A-ha,” and then literally it’s one that was I not as familiar with going into the conference, but I think being able to… Again to the point that many of these companies are old. They’re 100+ years old, they have a history that can be leveraged and can be marketed and touted. This isn’t a trend or a corporate bad for these companies. It’s in the core of who they are. And I think the better we can exploit, the more we will come out ahead as mutual and cooperative companies.
Tamara, what about your thoughts about how mutual companies can better leverage their governed structures, their long term approach, their values based strategies, in order to gain a competitive advantage?
Tamara Van Weverberg:
We can certainly leverage more on our purpose and our values. Mutuals and cooperatives can be the center of creating a more positive economy for everyone. And there was something we heard the speaker on the first day of the conference talking about this. We are in the good position to leverage on our good values and on the purpose that mutuals and cooperatives have, so we just have to do that, communicate and make aware of that.
Ben, if I can add one more point there that I would be remiss of adding out, because I don’t want to ignore the own topic on which I got to speak. I do think one thing that is really unique about mutual and cooperative companies and not having the same sense of shareholders in public companies, is that we are able to take a longer term view. And so with everything going on in the globe right now, as we’ve seen in other crises, I think you will see large public companies pulling back on their more innovative efforts or their more experimentation to focus on that short-term financial view. And there is a benefit to being a mutual company in that you’re able to look beyond just the next quarter, this quarter’s results. And that allows you to be more innovative, if you are willing to be.
That’s a brilliant point. And we’ve seen that already within the membership, that the first concern is employees and their customers, while perhaps stock companies with their short term returns are more looking at how they’re going to meet shareholder expectations. So that’s a brilliant point, Liz, and perhaps in the next few months and years, we will see how that develops.
Now just shifting gears a little bit, I’d like to speak to both of you and ask you a question. As millennials, both the future employees and leaders of companies and also the customers of the future, which topics do you think were especially relevant? And also in a second question to that, what can mutual and cooperative insurers do to better appeal or attract the next generation of customers and of talent? Tamara, perhaps I’ll come to you first for this one.
Tamara Van Weverberg:
Okay. I like a lot the concrete cases of every insurer that came across in Auckland and that gave inspiration to think about next offers to include this generation more. I think especially about the smart life insurances, an example I heard from Finland, LocalTapiola. That for me was really a good thing, very concrete cases that gave inspiration and where we can think about our next generation and what we can concretely.
But in general, I think we need to better understand some ecosystems of the millennials and just try to find new offers for this segment, with value creation, but that starts from a real insight, like as we did at P&V Group, we do our usage-based insurances for young drivers. It is really expensive for them, so we can offer something in combination with prevention. And I think that’s the future.
Liz, how about your perspective on this?
One of the things, and I believe it was P&V who spoke and you saw some of it in Tamara’s presentation around the idea of an ecosystem and for a very long time, you bought insurance through an insurer, through an advisor, and I think that’s evolving. And I think the younger generation, though this is likely true for older populations as well, but their expectations of how to purchase insurance products is varying. And so it’s, how do you embed your value proposition into something that they are already consuming? Versus having it be yet another place they have to go. At least in the US market, lots of life insurers are very privy to the idea that we don’t really communicate with our customers, other than on an annual basis when frankly you owe us your premium, you owe us money.
That’s a really crummy experience, and we’re seeing a lot of innovation in terms of new companies emerging that are offering digital or app based platforms to engage customers. But the reality is that experience is being offered to them in a million different ways already, and so it’s really hard as an insurer to get someone to change their behaviour and so I think companies and insurers in particular are going to have to do a better job of meeting consumers where they are, versus relying on the existing ways that we’ve always distributed our products.
We’re seeing some great examples. I heard a lot of really cool examples from NTUC Income in Singapore while I was in New Zealand. So we’re getting there, but it goes back to culture. It’s the way things have been done and that’s hard to change.
Excellent. Thank you both for that. I think we’ve got time for a couple more questions from the audience before we conclude today’s webinar. I’ve got a question about data protection, Tamara this is primarily aimed at you, but Liz perhaps you’ve got some perspective as well from the US. The question is, relating to the introduction of GDPR and its requirements surrounding the use of personal data with respect to digitalization and customization. How can mutual organization best approach the use of customer data and how can this be communicated effectively to our members? And have you experiences any resistance or pushback in your use of customer data so far? Tamara, can you answer that first?
Tamara Van Weverberg:
If it comes to research and using customer data, in fact, people are really open to give their feedback, to help us, to create new things, to help developing new products. We don’t have a lot of issues linked to that GDPR law. I don’t see a difference there comparing to the past. What we do at our organization is we have a lot of legal persons that helps us making everything correctly when we do a mailing, when we do a research, everything has to be compliant and that support we receive. But at the point of the customer, I don’t feel it’s a big issue, not in Belgium. People are still very open to collaborate, to give feedback, to co-create with us, and to help us in fact building new things.
Thank you Tamara. Liz, anything from the US perspective in terms of the use of customer data and how you communicate that to your members and whether that’s an area that mutuals can differentiate themselves from stock insurers?
I’m not sure to the second part about the differentiation in this space, being a mutual company. I think we are behind Europe. California recently launched their own California Consumer Privacy Act that is trying to do some of the things that GDPR did. And everyone is still trying to interpret it and what this means. It went into effect at the beginning of the year, I’d say it has the largest impact or potential for impact I think particularly around various marketing tactics.
I’d say one really positive thing that this has potentially resulted in is an increased focus on data architecture. Historically, being 140 of years where data is something that’s relatively new as a focus but we’ve had tons of data on consumers for a really long time. It’s how do we better ingest data, understand the potential value for consumers and for us as a company and how that can be structured and accessed in various ways. So as an example, annuities in the United States is still a very paper-based product line. So a lot of our applications are still submitted via paper. And so that’s scanned in, key information gets input into a system, but there’s a whole bunch of other information on that application that’s just sitting in an image file that might help us develop new products if it were in a system where we could more easily access that data and information of course with the appropriate levels of access and all of that.
In some ways I think it’s a positive in that it’s forcing companies to look more holistically at their data and set it up for success and set it up so that we can do a better job of monitoring who has access to what and how it can view.
Thank you Liz. I think we’ll have one more audience question before we sum up and wrap up. This is a question, as millennials, what do you think is our role in the process of cultural change and transformation? Tamara, perhaps you can have a go at answering that question first.
Tamara Van Weverberg:
Yeah. For me, it’s really clear. We have to be ambassadors of a new organization, of a new way of working because Hilde [Hilde Vernaillen, Chair of ICMIF] told us in Auckland when she welcomed all 50 Young Leaders: we are the young people, we are the future, so we are the future of mutuality. So I think our role is to be ambassador of everything that is new and that is catchy, maybe, but that helps in creating a good atmosphere and a good environment to make it happen, to make the change happen.
Liz, how about your thoughts on that question?
Yeah. And I think this is true for any emerging group, so the oldest millennials are 40 years old, right? It’s not those darn kids right out of college anymore. And so I think the more that we can show the power of our collective voices and the rationale and the understanding that we are a giant generation and are slowly emerging into leadership positions. Showing the need for cultural change and the importance not just to millennials, but younger generations of those changes. Especially because, in particular for insurance companies, we’re often the target demographic for the products that our companies are trying to sell us.
Life insurers want millennial parents who are just having their first kids to purchase a lot of life insurance. And so in order to do that, we need to show that our company ethics and the way in which we operate and match that of what the consumer is looking for, who happens to be a millennial. And this will always evolve. I think Gen Z will need to change this even more as they enter the workplace stronger and stronger. I think in the US in particular, you’ve seen this, which I know is a disgusting fact to everyone else on the phone, we don’t have mandatory paid parental leave in the United States and I think that’s one giant shift that you’ve really seen as millennials have taken leadership positions in organizations have started to drive the change to per individuals companies to implement paid parental leave policies, both for men and women.
Thank you Liz. Before we end, I’d just like to ask one final question to both Liz ad Tamara. Just asking them what their biggest takeaway from the conference was. Whether that be a theme, a topic, a statement, something that they took back to their own organizations. Tamara, perhaps we’ll go to you again first for this one, and then to Liz.
Tamara Van Weverberg:
Okay. What I just want to add is a quote I heard also in Auckland. And that is, “All value creation is collaborative value.” And that’s a very inspiring quote, I think, but what does it mean? It means that we certainly have to continue to share our expertise, to work with each other, and to leverage on our knowledge, those are really good things and initiatives like this webinar and all the conferences of ICMIF and all of that, is really helpful for us. So let’s continue.
Thank you Tamara. And Liz, what would your final remarks be?
Yeah. I think I cheated and mentioned this earlier a little bit, but my biggest takeaway is, how do you leverage the history and the focus of mutual companies and embed that into your messaging, the way that other companies are starting to tie in corporate social responsibility? I think it is an opportunity to help the good that we’ve done for decades, but we have to come at it very, very strongly anywhere in the world.
Thank you Liz. And thank you to you both for your excellent presentations and some really great points that you’ve raised in that discussion. I think you’ve done a great job to summarize three days’ worth of material in about 55 minutes. So really appreciate you for joining us today and as well as everybody else who’s joined to watch. Before I leave you, just a reminder that with all ICMIF webinars, this will be recorded, so many of you will be watching the recording of this. Everybody who’s registered for this webinar will be sent the link to watch the recording.
This is actually the fifth Young Leaders webinar that we’ve hosted over the last year. So if you haven’t had the chance to watch the others, please do. You can access the recording to any of these webinars via the link on the screen. At the moment, we’ve provisionally scheduled the next Young Leader webinar for June and this will look at how ICMIF members are attracting, retaining, and developing their younger employees. And it will also coincide with the publication of a case study report that has been developed by the ICMIF Young Leaders Forum.
If you are interested in learning more from the Auckland Conference and watching some of the presentations, all the sessions in Auckland were recorded and via the link on screen you can see the videos of these sessions. Again, this is a member-only link, so please go via this webpage to access it. And any more information on ICMIF Young Leaders or any of our webinars, please do get in touch with myself or visit our dedicated webpages, or even the ICMIF Young Leader LinkedIn page, which I mentioned earlier.
A final thank you to Liz and Tamara for joining us today and thank you for everyone for joining us. Please stay safe and healthy and enjoy the rest of your day. Goodbye.
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