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Duperreault: insurers must adapt to survive

The world is changing fast and insurers must change with it if they want to survive, reinsurance veteran Brian Duperreault said yesterday.

The Hamilton Insurance Group chief executive officer told conference delegates that “technology and talent will determine who succeeds and who fails” in the challenging years ahead.

Speaking at the EY Global (Re)insurance Outlook in association with The Insurance Insider, Mr Duperreault said the industry needed to appeal more to millennials to avoid a “talent crisis”, as 400,000 baby boomers would be retiring from the business over the next five years and would need to be replaced.

The overriding theme in his speech was the need to change. There was a need to tackle “rampant inefficiency” in the way insurance business was conducted.

He added: “We're threatened by technological disruption. We have unprecedented risks for which there are no actuarial data. The roles we play are being reinvented in real time. And we have a looming talent crisis.”

This said, Mr Duperreault described this as “the best of times” and “one of the most exciting times to be working in this industry in the 40 years since I joined it”.

But he warned: “There's nothing easy or traditional about what's facing our industry right now. Those of us who cling to the old way of doing business aren't going to make it.”

Using technology more effectively and working more closely with clients, with the focus moving from protection to prevention, would be crucial to success in future, he said.

“We need to know the clients's risks better than the CEO does,” Mr Duperreault said.

He referred to an IBM survey of CEOs around the world which found that more than half feared being “Uber-ised” by disruptive competitors, just as the taxi industry has been disrupted by Uber.

Technology advances, particularly in data analytics, gave insurers great opportunities.

“The issue isn't simply gathering massive quantities of data,” he said. “We need to take the data we have and know how to ask the right questions, and refine the right algorithms, to get the analysis we need to provide our products quickly and efficiently to a world doing business on smart phones.

“To create the best risk solutions, we need to redefine the relationships we have with each other, and build new organisational ecosystems. This is no time for staying in our traditional comfort zone.”

He said millennials, often described as the generation born since 1981, wanted to work for purpose-driven businesses. “I like that millennials are purpose-driven — because what industry can more rightfully lay claim to purpose than insurance?” Mr Duperreault said. “We should be catnip to millennials.”

The industry had to do more to communicate this purpose to millennials in order to avert a talent crisis. With that in mind, Mr Duperreault said he had worked on a project with other leaders in the industry to attract young people into the workforce.

Some 260 insurers and brokers had signed up for a careers month in February, he said.

The insurance industry has great opportunities for growth and an obligation to address the problem of uninsured risks, he added. In 2014, economic losses totalled $1.7 trillion, Mr Duperreault said, with $1.3 trillion uninsured.

Packed room: Delegates listen to the discussions at the EY Reinsurance Conference, held at the Hamilton Princess yesterday

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Published December 18, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 21, 2015 at 4:20 pm)

Duperreault: insurers must adapt to survive

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