Message from the Chair

Seeing the Future

Over this past year, your Society has been leading a significant research effort to look into the demographics of our industry, and the implications of technology on our workforce, in an effort to understand what skills and abilities the industry demands of those who work in it – and will demand in the future.

While the full reports will be published next month, I’ve been privileged to have seen the highlights.

The world is changing, as we all know. The p&c insurance industry is no different. Fast changing technologies are coming at us, impacting our everyday lives. We are becoming more interconnected in an online, immediate and more vulnerable world.

Historically, our business is about protecting people and things. The needs of this safety net of the future are evolving. The insurance workers of today will have to ask themselves if their skillsets meet those needs, and they will have to understand what is changing and how to evolve their skills and abilities.

The research tells us that over these next five years there will be three key areas of skills in high demand: 1) analytics and data analysis; 2) customer-centric skills; and 3) management and leadership skills.

Analytics and skillsets related to the management and assessment of data are a growing area. In our industry, data roles range from capturing and organizing data, to data analysis and being able to reach conclusions about what story the data tells. Data scientists and other data roles in product development and marketing will enjoy new, rich insights into our existing and potential customers. This serves us all in moving forward with offering a much more individualized approach to our insurance products. Analyzing the data will allow our industry to treat customers on a much more individual basis, with unique levels of exposure and risk.

The p&c industry’s ability to see and understand our customers as individually as possible is starting already. Today, we are on the cusp of integrating artificial intelligence analysis into our underwriting and claims service handling. Soon, we will be able to un-package policies and provide truly customized insurance protection offerings. What a change that will finally be!

Another skills area which will be critical to our relevance as an industry is customer service skills. Our research indicates that over 60% of insurance industry senior leaders predict superior customer service skills to be the most vital for insurance professionals to possess. Direct interactions with policyholders must fully move towards treating the customer as a person, not a ‘policy number,’ and at a pace that fits their expectations. Implementing service consistency at an organizational level will become equally vital to an insurer, brokerage, or claims adjusting firm.

The overlay of technology will hugely influence customer service. What one customer wants or demands, another may not at all. Recognizing the variety of levels of service expectations from our customers will enable us to move away from our historically ‘one size fits all’ approach, where we offered information, access to advice, or documentation in a single way. Determining quickly what the customer wants in terms of not just the product, but also personal interactions (or not) will be key to success for insurance organizations over the coming years.

The term ‘omni-channel’ will dominate our industry in terms of the customer experience, as it will other industries that deal in information and data. We need to understand how a customer sees real value in their interactions with insurance professionals – from the initial searching and buying process, through maintaining policies in force at renewal, to ultimately a claims experience. This will offer us the opportunities to reinforce trust, comfort and confidence in the insurance consumers’ minds.

Management and leadership skills need to be addressed during these disruptive times, and are the third key area our research highlights. If you are a leader today, or aspire to be one in the future in the p&c insurance industry, you will need to demonstrate your ability to adapt quickly and foster that adaptability in those you lead. One of the most valuable assets of future leaders will be their willingness and their ability to create something entirely new in their organization. Today’s management style – where strategies are fundamentally implemented from above – is expected to be replaced by a more fluid and dynamic environment. The availability of real-time data will allow for better and quicker management decisions.

Will your personal leadership skills be ready for this future? Thinking on your feet will become a fundamental competency to move more quickly. Letting go of what is no longer working will occur more readily. Pivoting will be seen as the right thing to do to service the customers' needs, and not as a business failure.

As the Institute launches the results of this significant research effort, please look out for opportunities to engage. The official report launch takes place during a free national webinar on September 19, 2018. A multi-city tour will follow in October and November, providing further insights into the demographic research.

And you can look forward to seeing refreshed offerings that will help address the changes coming for our industry. I would strongly encourage you to take the time to review and consider what skills development offerings your employer and your local Institute can provide you to start your personal journey into this future.

Mike Kosturik, BA, FCIP

Chair, National CIP Society