Essential skills for the modern insurer

People can make or break an organization, their skills, knowledge and culture shaping the success of the company they work for. With the current state of disruption in the life insurance landscape, insurers need a strategy to help them, and their employees adapt.

In a survey of insurers released by KPMG in 2014, over half of the respondents agreed that the main barriers to a strong data and analytics strategy are human, not technical. Proof that a lack of skill in modern business technologies puts insurers at a distinct disadvantage.

So what are going to be the key skills that insurers need to plan for going forward? Here’s a run-down of what you should look for:

Customer centric view - Millennials expect a relationship with a company to be at an individual level. Generational differences mean that employers and HR managers need to ensure their current employees have the skills to connect with this growing segment of consumers. You will need people who can think customers first, and act accordingly.

Technical capability - Adopting a digital strategy is now essential, insurers who up their game in this area will create a strong differentiation point. Managers must pay special attention to the internal talent who can help them realise their digital vision. This doesn’t just mean those who have specific technical knowledge, but those who have the skills and confidence with technology to learn whatever new tech comes along. If you’ve ever seen the difference between a millennial and a baby boomer learning to use a new app, then you’ll recognise the massive benefits of having a natural affinity with how computers work. Which brings us to the next point.

Adaptability - As technological advances are rapidly appearing it’s important insurers don’t become stagnant and stuck in their ways in terms of the technologies they use. Don’t just look for people with experience in the applications and processes you currently use. Put more weight on being open to new technologies, having an aptitude to learn new things and motivation to improve their skillset.

A new kind of communication - Communication has always been an important skill for all employers, but now it takes on new forms. Employees need to be able to generate valuable customer insights from big data, and then clearly convey their findings to colleagues. They need to be able to mix face to face relationships with online collaboration across continents. They need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely both verbally, and digitally.

Holistic understanding of business units - As digital technology is transforming the agency as a whole, it is important new employees develop a holistic view of factors affecting the projects they work on. Silos within businesses are now connected and merging, and nothing happens in isolation anymore. Employees need to be able to easily align technology, strategy and business priorities for the success of their projects.

Analytics - As current and new customers generate more data, insurers must develop the ability to manage and collate information to develop actionable insights. Quality information from big data will assist in making claims and risk management more effective, but low quality data management will support nothing but inaccurate information and ill-informed decisions.

Security - Having the skills to address vulnerabilities and manage incidents such as security breaches is becoming invaluable among modern insurers. Crisis prevention is always better than crisis management, but you need to make sure you’re covered for both.

Social media knowledge - Insurers need to make sure they use the right channels to reach new customers. Social media provides the opportunity to connect with individuals on a personal level, building positive brand image and relationships. Social media can be difficult for the uninitiated though, so employing with this in mind can be invaluable.