FSC Life Insurance Conference

The 2015 FSC Life Insurance Conference was held in Sydney in March, headlined by the release of the Trowbridge Report and initial debate about its recommendations. But while ‘Trowbridge’ was the major talking point at this year’s Conference, the FSC also delivered a full day of relevant and thought-provoking content for delegates, who represented all sectors of Australia’s life insurance community.

The evening prior to the Conference, the life insurance industry’s best and brightest were honoured at a black-tie gala dinner. Now in their third year, the FSC Life Insurance Awards are presented to individuals and organisations across four categories, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the industry.

The winners were:

  • Consumer Innovation Award winner: Elyse Horne of Suncorp
  • Young Achiever Award winner: Eleanor Hartmann of NAB
  • Leadership Award winner: Sean McCormack of NAB
  • ‘Big Thinking’ Award winner: Richard Dunkerley of Zurich

In opening the Conference, recently-appointed FSC CEO, Sally Loane, noted some ‘green shoots’ emerging in the life insurance sector following a period where industry sustainability has become a key focus. She pointed to recent improvements in lapse rates, group life claims experience and a better long-term sustainability outlook.

Under a 2015 Conference theme of ‘Evolve’, Ms Loane also urged delegates and the industry to move towards a culture of innovation.

Throughout a day that offered both plenary and concurrent sessions, change, innovation and evolution were never far from the centrepoint of most discussions and presentations…

The culture of innovation was highlighted in a presentation by Schalk Malan, representing new South African financial services provider, BrightRock. Mr Malan’s message related to how a total ‘revamp’ of the nature of life insurance, built from ground-up, with the consumer at the centre of every part of the business, can deliver a new life insurance paradigm or conversation.

Mr Malan was joined by Raj Mendes, Managing Director of The Customer Experience Company, and Lisa Claes, Executive Director Distribution, ING DIRECT, on a panel to discuss how to bring more of a customer focus to the life insurance industry. According to Mr Malan, his company is using customer centric design because they don’t want to be the dinosaur left behind when new players enter the life insurance market. He said the next evolution of insurance products should be built together with customers, not just for them.

CEO of SuperFriend, Margo Lydon, led a discussion on mental health and the workplace, sharing the work her organisation has done with group insurers to build a ‘best practice’ mental illness claims framework. Fellow panellist, Georgie Harman, the CEO of beyondblue, shared the surprising statistic that one-third of psychological injury workers compensation claims are for ‘low morale’ – ie: people who are frustrated with their work environment and relationships and not necessarily suffering from mental illness or a diagnosed condition.

Suncorp Life eCommerce Executive Manager, Shaun Taylor, said the life industry should be focused on building technology solutions that allow consumers to control their own purchasing journey online. His team adopts three main principles when approaching a technology project: be human, build knowledge, and build trust.

The final plenary session of the day featured Brett Clark, incoming TAL Group CEO, Deanne Stewart, CEO of Metlife Australia, and Alexis George, MD Insurance, ANZ Wealth. Chaired by Helen Troup, Executive General Manager, CommInsure, all panellists agreed that the highlight of the day was Mr Trowbridge’s presentation, collectively acknowledging that the Report represented a turning-point for the life insurance industry.

With thanks to photographer Andrea Francolini.

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