Change of Times

Change of Times

Undoubtedly, the years between 2006 and 2019 may seem like a race.  Swiftly passing by, running so fast that we could barely get up to speed of innovation and catching up on opportunities.

This is how I see time has been spent to manage work.

Technology is the element of continuous change, always in the lead, so fast that we became runners, rocketeers and other Roadrunner terms. Once we adapt to a change, a new technology comes up, and while people are always eager to learn and discover this new change, others have taken part in this change, adopting a new momentum at work to achieve success in the era of progressive technology.

So, no chance to stall, but rather to gear up and move up to the speed of this change.

However, this is not like other time; it is a critical phase we are going through with the pandemic of Coronavirus reaching every country and affecting everyone on earth.

But still, this is a time that tests companies’ resilience and adaptability during a time of crisis. And following the advice of the Medical Practitioners and the government bodies, we all must practice social distancing to flatten the curve of the coronavirus spread.

Meaning that we could not do business as usual, therefore change here is inevitable because every company should think and act differently to preserve its financial stability.

In other words, we could not go to work, but we could get work to us. But how companies adapted to this change varies from one to another.

Insurance companies for instance were not fully correlated to technology before the lockdown, where some national insurers were still relying on traditional business functions in comparison to international insurers who took a more amicable approach with technology and built their business functions with good technology standards, and this had made it easier for them to run their businesses as usual, and limiting interruptions.

How insurers adapt to the situation and maintain business functions such as renewals, claims and servicing existing clients?

From acceptance to adaptation, insurers started changing their work behavior. Starting with the 330-year-old insurance in the market, Lloyd’s of London, that had easily adapted to working from home. They have abandoned the normal tools of trade and turned to electronic means in order to agree on terms with the brokers, who brings business their way.

For a normal day at Lloyd’s, it is a huge change where underwriters receive queues of brokers at their desks to haggle over terms, before sealing the deals with an old-fashioned company stamp and an ink signature. Each deal can require up to 20 signatures and stamps, but still they have adapted; according to Thomson Reuters

Insurance companies in the UAE are also adapting to work remotely; “a robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) was activated by Fidelity United that covers an end-to-end solution to all aspects of operation with no disruption in business” according to Bilal Adhami, Chief Executive Officer.

All Fidelity United employees are working from home and are equipped with all necessary resources and tools to ensure business will run as usual. The renewal process is initiated well before hand to ensure no delay and a smooth renewal of clients’ policies. Brokers are empowered with online portals, and pre-underwritten products for easy access and quick turnaround of quotations and policies. Most of our business function such as claims and underwriting have been easily accessible to clients via our website, social media and designated contact numbers to reach us.

Adhami added: “We would like to emphasize on our ability to be agile and adaptive to any situation, assuring 100% commitment to deliver a seamless service, while ensuring safety of our people, partners and clients.”

What will the strategy be to acquire new clients and increase portfolio?

It would have been challenging if the lockdown happened twenty years before, where mode of  communication was limited to phone calls, messaging or fax.

Nowadays, brand awareness campaigns and reaching out to new prospects while focusing on digital media, social media and other digital platforms.

Some insurers had a strategy in place, while others were still building one, and this readiness and proactiveness is considered as a winning ticket for those insurers as this enables them to focus on growth rather than spending time putting a strategy in place.

The Al-Futtaim Willis (AFW) front office was largely unaffected by the lockdown as the ability to work remotely had already been implemented (many years ago) and almost all employees already worked from laptops and mobile devices. “However, renewal timelines have been affected by the crisis as underwriters take slightly longer than usual to give terms. As a result, we have started asking for terms earlier and managed timelines more tightly with insurers and clients alike.” said Janek Zawadzki, Head of Marketing, Bid and Communications.

AFW’s client acquisition strategy focusses on digital selling and marketing by producing relevant and timely content that informs and educates the readership. This content has contributed to AFW’s brand recognition in the market resulting in an increase in the number of RfP invitations. The AFW RfP team is now considered one of the best in the market.

“In addition to the above we have also heavily invested in our strategy and innovation departments resulting in several valuable digital outcomes. The department has since helped grow our revenues and assisted in achieving new client acquisition and retention goals.” Zawadzki added.

It takes time to increase a digital presence and start generating leads that translate into revenue; a time that will be for the advantage of the ones who have presence, whereas, the others who are about to start will have to boost their fiber optics and speedup.

To have a strong core for digitization is recognized by Fidelity United and it is being developed in parallel to an active strategy that empower its Brokers, Partners and Client’s with various online portals and products to meet with insurance requirements. Launching of B2C (Business To Client), Partner Campaigns and Bundled Products will promote more new business opportunities. Simultaneously Fidelity United are working on specific Loyalty and Affinity schemes for strategic clients that will be beneficial to both the client and Fidelity United on a whole portfolio basis.

Working in parallel with traditional and developing necessary technologies, Fidelity United’s growth strategy seems to serve its market needs while also increasing their digital presence. This Strategy will outrun other insurers who has not implemented a similar strategy yet.


What comes after Coronavirus?

Most industries are keeping an eye on what is next, in order to be ready. Not sure if September 2020 is so optimistic to see a cure in the market, since there have been no confirmations yet on any testing nor their outcomes.

If that happens, will there be a new approach on how businesses are done, or will the market be stagnant, approaching another recession phase?

Nothing is clear yet with plethora of speculations roaming. Only time will reveal that.

Insurers who are focusing on digitalization has discussed new approaches to be adopted, but development of these trends were not moving as fast as the speed of technology and change.

Any good outcome gained in this critical time was related to investment allocated for digitalization.

AFW were well prepared and up to the speed of technology, even before the lockdown, and hence they have seen real positive outcomes and results. For them, what come after the crisis is “We expect to be a leaner, meaner and more streamlined organisation at the end of the crisis and in a strong position to grow and thrive as the market returns to normality.” Said Zawadzki – AFW

For Fidelity United; they have proved to be agile, accessible and quickly responsive during the Corona virus. “This is exactly what any partner / customer is looking for. We have not wasted a single minute to re-visit our processes. We have also reviewed our plans and re-set our strategy to go back stronger. We will make sure to emphasize on our strength and capabilities to grab potential opportunities and support our partners in their day-to-day business” said Adhami.

What seems to be slow in the lockdown, needs quick actions and fast movement in order to achieve and succeed in addition to a quick actions of most insurers in order to gain presence in the digital world.