Insurance must adapt to a new kind of customer

Over the past few decades technology has changed our lives at an unprecedented rate. For the wealth industry, the convergence of technological and social innovation is pushing us to think and act differently, finding new ways to help people secure their future wellbeing.

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" The new breed of customer wants help achieving their goals. This means we need to change our thinking about how we deliver insurance solutions."
Alexis George, Managing Director, Australia Wealth at ANZ

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If Moore's Law is correct, the sector is entering a period of unprecedented innovation and change. We need to empower people to make better choices and decisions today so they can live better future lives. 

Improving the customer experience is the driver for innovation. With one eye on the future, let's take a look at what this all means for the insurance industry and its customers. 


Our fascination with the future isn't new. Remember The Jetsons? It was an American cartoon produced in the 1960s, which was part space-age fantasy and part social commentary on what life would look in like 100 years.

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The show's predictions were amazingly accurate. They had video conferencing, smart watches, LCD TVs, medical advice at the push of a button, the lot. In many ways the future the show imagined has arrived. But in others, advances in medical science and technology have far exceeded expectations.

Today we can isolate genes, create bionic limbs and 3D-print almost anything. In the last few decades, advances in medical science and technology have accelerated at a rate we didn't predict.

The rise of artificial Intelligence has a few people, including Bill Gates, warning we need to put ethical controls around the technologies of the future.

These are the kinds of issues the insurance industry will be faced with. Think about the discriminating role of insurance. The model is based on calculating risks based on unknowns. We will soon have all of the information we need to assess risk. How will that knowledge be applied?

New business models will have to emerge to target customers who grow up with this technology at their fingertips. Millennials are driving a cultural shift towards social innovation. With one eye on the rise of AI, the sector should have the other on the rise of the new generation. 

The largest demographic the world has ever seen has a buying power about to eclipse the baby boomers, so we need to pay attention.

So what do we know about them? Well, they don't watch TV, smoke, go to church or like to be in debt. They embrace and align themselves with technology and when it comes to brands they don't see a clear line between the customer and the service provider. From personal experience I can attest to these observations and they are judgemental of individuals and companies who are not aligned to their values.

More than 50 per cent of millennials in the US make an effort to buy from companies that support the causes they care about. Think about what this means for customer loyalty. 


The new breed of customer wants help achieving their goals. This means we need to change our thinking about how we deliver insurance solutions.

In the future, successful companies will be those which exist for a higher purpose. For example, Thank You Water uses 100 per cent of its profits to fund food, water, health and sanitation programs around the world. They exist solely to end global poverty. 

These 'conscious companies' are focussed on creating every form of value that matters: emotional, social, and financial. While financial services companies might not be there yet, we can definitely start thinking about how to combine technological and social innovation. 

At ANZ, we're focussed on better use of data and analysing customer behaviour to help them reach their goals. We're looking at wearable devices as part of our insurance solution to help customers reach medical or health targets. 

When it comes to sensor technology, we've only just scratched the surface of possible future applications – in the insurance industry and beyond. 

Researchers in the US are working on a wristband that can analyse your sweat and alert you to things like fatigue, dehydration and overheating before they become a problem.

In Switzerland, researchers have developed the world's smallest medical implant to help prevent heart attacks. Ingestible tech will revolutionise healthcare through mobile wireless technology. The global smart pills market is expected to reach $US965 million in 2017. 

The common thread in all of these innovations is to be fail-safe, technology depends on the patient being able to access their data in real-time. So companies which collect customer data need to be able to show how they can help the customer use their data to help them reach their goals.


So far we've covered where wealth is heading with customer solutions. But what about at an organisational level? How will the sector stay competitive in the future?

As I mentioned earlier, keeping pace with the exponential rise of technology requires us to think exponentially. In insurance, this starts with challenging the status quo. We may have digitised our solutions but our processes haven't changed. We need to work differently – and become exponential organisations.

The leaders doing it well are creating cultures in which employees are encouraged to come up with disruptive ideas and new pathways to success. They are building their brands from the inside out. They are developing businesses with a strong ethical core, supported by a vision, values and purpose helping employees make decisions and measure success. 

American writer Dale Carnegie said, “Almost all the progress ever made in human thought has been made by the Doubting Thomases, the questioners, the challengers, the show-me crowd.” We can learn a lot from that statement, as the world enters a period of unprecedented innovation and change. 

It's up to business leaders to ask the big questions, challenge the status quo and inspire the next generation to think differently. This is how we will help people to make better decisions, today, so they can live a better future. 

Alexis George is Managing Director, Australia Wealth at ANZ.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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