Start-up’s are messy, all-consuming environments. Everything that established businesses take for granted has to be thought through and executed from brand development to technology development; the setting up of bank accounts to the building of new partnerships. It’s an “Everest” of a task. So where do you start?
To my mind, you start with the very thing that will drive life-giving oxygen to the entire organisation: the heart. And at the heart of any great brand is ‘purpose’. That single articulation of the ‘why’ that unites the organisation with a common belief system and blueprint of behaviours and enables the business to act with one voice internally and externally.
Step 1 - defining the purpose
“Purpose” describes why you’re doing it in the first place: Do you want to make the world a more sustainable place? Do you dream of delivering more time to women through an innovative process? Do you want to make the world give business people more leisure time?
In our case, the team are absolutely unified by the concept of Freedom: freedom from outdated thinking and legacy systems. Freedom that enables our customers to take risks with the confidence that they have the right protection.
Freedom to challenge, express & create. Freedom to do what we believe is right and the freedom to individually work the way we are most productive.
With freedom comes great responsibility on the individuals to ACT in an accountable, collaborative & respectful manner both internally to each other and externally to our customers and stakeholders.
Step 2 - Radiating the purpose from the inside out
We recognise that people are the foundation of our house and unless we recruit, train and develop them for our brand, we won’t deliver on our brand at every available opportunity to ensure a consistent outcome and impression.
Failure to align an organisation could result in a cultural disconnect that festers over a period of time, giving rise to power plays or dissent. The resultant toxicity can cause the business to spend unproductive time.
We believe in taking the time to recruit people who are purpose aligned and then train them over and over again to deliver on our brand actions.
Step 3 - Walk the walk before you talk the talk
Every organisation “engages” at multiple touch points daily, whether via stakeholder management, service delivery, via owned or earned media assets. What should uniquely define that behaviour is a set of brand actions that direct conversations. From the writing on your menu if you’re a café to the manner in which the call centre staff handle an enquiry. From the welcome by your sales staff in a store to the content on your social media page. If your brand doesn’t have a scripted guideline to manage these multiple levels of communication, you’re likely going to look like everyone else and fall into the grey generic category. Even worse, one of your touch points could be the demise of your business.
Step 4 - Define your pre-occupation
Your purpose defines what the business is preoccupied with. This preoccupation should drive prioritisation of action, process, product development & promotion. For instance if you’re enabling FREEDOM, does your product roadmap align with the purpose of the business? Do your processes enable freedom for the people within your organisation or constrain them? Do your comm’s deliver a brand-directed message? And most importantly are your people acting on your brand purpose?
Vallum is currently building “a brand that does” in the insurance category. We are passionate about freeing up insurers from legacy systems and thinking towards delivering the products and processes that enable small business the freedom to be whatever or where ever they want to be.
We’re recruiting new team members who are inspired by our way of thinking. Give us a call. Together we can change the world of business from the inside out.
When Alphonse Karr, celebrated satirist and former Editor of le Figaro, coined the satirical epigram "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" he might have been talking about today’s insurance industry. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Countless provocative headlines these days argue that insurance is “broken”, or that a certain new technology or innovation is set to “revolutionise” the industry. Sometimes these statements target the whole industry, at other times only certain components of the value chain are singled out. For instance the extinction of insurance brokers has been a familiar and recurring theme for some years now.
Usually such claims are made by the would-be disruptors themselves. Of course creating such uncertainty reeks of self interest. So probably a more measured assessment is needed.
Let’s examine history a little. Industry veterans will remember the anxiety around telephone sales platforms such as the UK’s Direct Line. We survived the internet bubble of the late 1990s. We can even recall how the fax machine replaced the trusted telex machine, transforming the speed and volume of data transfer which is so critical to an effective insurance business.
All of these developments were often accompanied by obituaries for the industry as we knew it, in particular the role of brokers and agents.
It cannot be argued that important change did not occur. Telephone sales and call centres significantly reshaped the personal insurance market. The internet has transformed and simplified business many positive ways. The fax machine rendered telex operators and their skills redundant, only to themselves be replaced within less than 20 years by personal computers and email.
These innovations, all enablers and predecessors of today’s Insurtech, certainly had far reaching and abiding influence on how insurance is delivered and experienced. But adapting to emerging changes in the business risk environment is the bread and butter of the insurance industry. In spite of technology shifts the insurance industry evolves constantly and remains functional.
This is due to a founding bedrock of fundamental principles that don’t change irrespective of the rhetoric:
• Despite the interesting variances on peer to peer insurance that we see today, insurance has always been based on mutuality, where contributions of many pay for the losses of a few.
• For a contract of insurance to be created, there must be insurable interest.
• The contract is struck on the foundation of Utmost Good Faith (Uberrima Fides) and the accompanying obligations for disclosure.
• The policy must state the perils against which cover is provided which give rise to the Proximate Cause of loss and is founded on
• the established and tested principles of Indemnity, Subrogation and Contribution. Finally
• the basis of the contract must be recorded and agreed in Insurance Documentation from proposal to policy.
Similarly, there is little change in the established underlying product functionality for protecting assets, activities and revenues. Fundamentally the design of property and liability insurance, or life, accident and health insurance barely changes. We have known since the Great Fire of London how to insure against property loss risks and centuries of proven maritime practices are embedded into how we protect against catastrophes in the air or at sea.
This combination of insurance principles and legacy insurance products is embedded in the DNA of insurance professionals. Furthermore it is also inextricably connected with established regulations and jurisprudence. Therefore it is hard to conclude that insurance is “Broken”.
However, in spite of this, we cannot ignore that Insurtech is rising. So, if Insurtech is only a new label on a continuum of evolutionary change, why is it such a hot topic? What is going on?
There are many drivers of the change environment but the most fundamental of these is the rapid emergence of technology and how that impacts on insurance customers, shaping their needs.
Technology influences the habits and expectations of consumers like never before. Adoption of smart devices is almost universal. Today’s digitally native consumers will judge their insurance experiences against how they do their banking, online purchasing or maintenance of other services and utilities. That means it must be digital, practical, easy and available 24/7.
These changes apply not only in personal insurance. Businesses are also confronted by rapid changes in the environment and are adapting their operating models and practices. They increasingly need solution providers who integrate efficiently within their business model. Even if they prefer advice and advocacy, they are looking for efficient administration and convenient access with tailored communication and education on risk matters. They demand digital integration wherever possible.
These changes are what motivate both established providers and new insurtech entrants to change the insurance value chain. Decomposing the $5 trillion global insurance industry exposes many niches and activities that can be eliminated or adapted through smart technologies. It’s a very seductive opportunity for innovators and disruptors as they analyse the structurally embedded inefficiencies of data, premiums and claims flow within the traditional supply chain.
Today there is a sharp focus on the transparency of the insurance ecosystem. This is challenging the traditional incentivisation and reward models for insurance sales as well as highlighting the sources of friction.
At last the goal of higher quality underwriting and claims management at significantly lower cost lies within our grasp. AI and advanced data management capabilities will enable a superior and modern customer experience while reducing administration and sales expense. This will benefit insurers and consumers alike by maximising the indemnity value returned for every dollar of premium paid. The real value of this can be measured when efficiencies generated can be invested in known areas of underinsurance and improved risk management.
So, while we see a transformation in the delivery of insurance, it is change for the good. Although there will be changes in how customers learn about, access and use insurance, risk remains complex for many. Technology will enable greater awareness and understanding of insurance, but the role of advocate and trusted advisor will remain as important as ever. Similarly, there will be product innovation but these newer, tailored products will still be built on established product foundations and age old principles and practices.
Insurtech will enhance the value of insurance to customers and improve the industry’s image. It will doubtlessly impact on the structure of the industry and the skill requirements of its future workforce. However the historic principles and practices of insurance will endure, ensuring a premium is placed on the deep experience and knowledge of industry professionals.
Plus ca change…. Indeed!
The number of Kiwi businesses that need to comply with AML / CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and combating the Financing of Terrorism) legislation will quadruple overnight.
From July 1, legislative requirements will be imposed on the legal, real estate, sports betting, and high-value goods industries (jewellery, precious metals, precious stones, watches, motor vehicles, boats, art or antiques where they take cash payments of $15,000 or more).
The impact of failing to comply with this global legislation can have severe consequences. This includes hefty fines or a jail term.
Rapid developments in financial information, technology and communication allow money to move anywhere in the world with speed and ease. This makes the task of combating money-laundering more urgent than ever. The cost of AML is estimated to be US $800 billion to US $2 trillion globally.
Businesses must know who their clients are and where their funds have come from. It is not enough to park the funds in a trust account without inquiring about the origins.
One of the most effective means of managing the compliance risks associated with AML/ CFT and any other data management regulations is to work with partners who incorporate the highest levels of data quality management into their business model by design.
Many NZ businesses do not comply with AML
Like fraud, money laundering is more pervasive than we would expect. Incidents of Money Laundering are seldom reported publicly in order to protect privacy and avoid risks of undue prejudice. Five New Zealand businesses have been formally cautioned by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) for anti-money laundering failures. These businesses will now face further monitoring visits and serious repercussions if they don't improve.
During the past year alone one financial services group working in New Zealand was fined NZ $5.3m for multiple breaches of the AML/CFT Act (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has sought a NZ $2.6m fine against another NZ company.
About anti-money laundering
Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism comes from the AML/CFT Act 2009. It’s the body of rules that compel companies in New Zealand to prove that they are taking adequate and effective measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing from taking place in their business, according to Fiducia.
The Act 2009 seeks to contribute to public confidence in New Zealand's financial system and bring New Zealand into line with international standards to detect and deter money laundering and terrorism financing.
The estimated amount of money laundered globally in one year is two to five per cent of global GDP, or US $800 billion – US $2 trillion.
The New Zealand Police Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) estimates that that the size of financial fraud in NZ $1.35 billion, but the actual transactional value is thought to be several times higher.
Vallum makes compliance easy
A start-up data company in New Zealand, Vallum.Insure, is at the forefront of enabling excellence in data risk management including security and privacy as well as AML/CFT.
As technology is evolving so rapidly it’s hard to keep up. It’s easy to envisage a future where regulatory change and adaptation becomes a constant feature for all businesses, small and large. But although regulation unquestionably serves the public good, it often lacks finesse and nuance. Something like using a sledgehammer to fasten a nail.
The key lies in working with partners who can be trusted for the integrity of their data and who represent a first line of defence in ensuring best practice and compliance.
When Vallum talks about risk, it includes areas such as legal compliance so that companies can develop new and more competitive product offerings.
The Vallum platform continually cross validates data to ensure that it is valid and trustworthy. This means that there is no need for the data to be validated again by businesses. What’s more Vallum incorporates practices that exceed regulatory requirements for data helping to future proof their customers’ business.
To ensure that the Vallum platform provides best-of-breed capabilities, the core platform utilises AML technology from partners such as compliance specialists, Fiducia. This provides guidance to business owners and gives insight to insurers, thus increasing business compliance and reducing insurance fraud all of which lead ultimately to lower insurance costs.