Synaptic Software has recently recruited a new team of Business Development Managers. A collective who bring to the business a breadth of knowledge and many years' experience in the financial services and digital worlds. Starting in this issue of Connection, I will be interviewing our new colleagues, helping you get to know them better through key insights and thought leadership. We start with Richard Tailby, our Head of Sales.
Richard has worked in financial services (apart from a few years exploring other less interesting industries), since 1995. This time has predominantly been spent with Legal & General in a variety of sales and management roles covering life and protection markets. He is a very keen squash player and represents Wales at over 45 level. Really? Yes, he really is over 45.
So, in true Alan Partridge style, knowing me: Paul Quarendon, knowing you: Richard Tailby. A-ha!
So, Richard, tell me, what do you see are the biggest challenges facing the insurance industry in 2019?
For the big insurer, despite their vast wealth, I am sure they will be very aware of the nimbler start-ups emerging in the marketplace - the talented people that will also be present in these 'fintechs' will also be worth admiring.
More specifically, I am sure there are tangible benefits to be had with better customer retention techniques. With social media and communications technology being so strong and present in our everyday lives, the opportunities to contact customers directly do seem endless. The trick will be in getting the balance right and communicating with customers in the way they expect, relevant to their demographic. I read a really interesting article in a back issue of this magazine that if you ignore the way in which both Millennials and Generation Z demographics manage their lives, you'll miss out on some very real openings to service their financial needs. Other challenges I would throw into the mix include Open Banking, AI and Big Data taking over the World, also the converging of businesses you wouldn't necessary think would come together from the fin and tech spaces.
How much do you foresee software needing to change to meet these? Any areas in particular?
What's most alarming is that the FCA says a third of firms do not perform regular cyber assessments – with smaller firms "generally relying on old school, manual processes – or no processes at all". Synaptic has always taken security very seriously, and I know we continue to drive best practice to encourage and deploy the latest security initiatives as standard. With the provision of online services becoming more and more the norm and it dominating so much of our lives, we must use protected and secure sites, and ensure we take responsibility to look after our personal information.
BREXIT! Discuss. Only joking, but do you see any immediate issues for advisers offering protection and annuity advice in the UK?
I believe one-third of insurance business stems from the UK-based insurers so we are certainly a force in the international market. I read recently that the Bank of England has estimated six million UK policyholders, and 30 million European Economic Area policyholders would be impacted by a loss of continuity of existing cross-border insurance contracts, should BREXIT affect our market.
It will be interesting to see how UK insurers who have benefitted from passporting will be impacted, and we'll likely see Solvency II affected given that was bound by EU laws, as is a lot of the UK's insurance market. Overall however, I would surmise that the UK insurance market will be able to formulate plans that impact us less than we originally thought.
We are seeing emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI and Extended Reality (XR). Any views on how these will shape protection insurance and annuities in the coming year(s)?
I am yet to understand fully the real impact of XR on insurance but Blockchain and AI are two areas we should all be familiar with, or at least have a basic grasp of the benefits they bring us. Thinking about Blockchain, can you imagine a situation where insurance companies can share a customer's KYC information instead of having to investigate every individual that wants to buy insurance? It could result in significant savings. Multiple insurance companies providing information to the same ledger, and the trust that brings, means that applications and claims, and trust arrangements, will be accepted as authentic, and of course ground-breaking.
When I think of AI, I think of a chatbot. Someone, no something, I can relate to and that can answer my query without the human emotion that can sometimes dictate a conversation. I appreciate it isn't just about bots though. I love the idea of AI; basically, devising new products based on the data it gathers and offers to product managers for their product development needs.
Face-to-face advice or a hybrid of Robo-advice and face-to-face?
A hybrid model I think, ROBO appeals to the younger and more tech savvy customers so the adviser would potentially capture more customer opportunities, but at its roots, protection is better when it is sold, so there will always be a need for face to face advice.
From your experience, what are the biggest digital challenges IFAs face?
This can be spilt into two categories for small and large firms – for the smaller IFA business, budget and time restraints coupled with a lack of overarching strategy for digitisation are probably the key issues i.e. not the issue of wanting to move that way. For larger firms, organisational structure obstructing progress and employee pushback will be big issues.
What do you see as the main benefits of Webline and how it can be best used by advisers?
Webline is just ideal. Putting all your quotes into one 'shopping basket' is very common to online users these days, its ability to quickly requote different options and importantly, the storage/compliance facility makes it a market leading system. I regard it as 'Simplicity in strength, in a very cluttered, complicated market, where advisers want to provide their customers with simple, relevant and affordable products'.
If you could make one change to Webline, what would it be?
I would simplify the results screens, lots of results with lots of options on one screen does sometimes make things difficult to see. I would have an 'Amazon' type approach where one life office with multiple premiums and options would come on one line that offered "xxx office": Premiums between £6 & £24, for example with a drop down option to expose all the premiums in that range.
Lastly, Richard, what is your favourite Beatles' album?
"Tough one! I think I'd have to say… 'The Best of The Beatles'."
Webline offers life and protection quotations from all the top insurance providers in the market. Following just a few simple inputs, a life and/or protection quote can be quickly obtained either as standalone products or as part of the multi-benefit service we provide.