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COO Amir Nooriala on supporting SMEs through fintech www.fintechmagazine.com

APRIL 2019

A digital transformation through agile partnerships

GROWTH OF A LEADING INSURANCE GIANT

DIGITAL DISRUPTION THROUGH BI AND DATA ANALYTICS Vice President Jamie McDougall on the company’s technology transformation

Driving global e-commerce sales

TOP 10

Disruptive insurtech companies


FOREWORD

H

ello and welcome to the April

companies in our reports on

edition of FinTech Magazine!

Plymouth Rock, Finning International

Our cover star this month is Gore

and Berkshire Hathaway GUARD.

Mutual, a business truly disrupting

Not stopping at the established

the insurance space through

giants, we’ve also taken a look at

technologies such as BI and

what exciting startups are doing

data analytics. It may be

in the finance space: read

Canada’s oldest insurer,

on to find out how tech

but the company has

unicorn Collibra is

a firm commitment to

transforming data in

being agile and keeping up with the latest innovations.

Jamie McDougall, Vice President, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Gore Mutual Insurance

Elsewhere, we spoke to Amir Nooriala, COO of OakNorth. Fresh

the B2B space. We also have insight on ecommerce trends from ACI and on facial

recognition from IDNow.

from SoftBank investment and

Be sure to check out our list of the

a debut on the Martin Lewis Money

top 10 insurtech companies and take

Show, the cloud-based challenger

a look at our selection of the biggest

bank is set to transform the way

and best industry events.

SMEs gain capital in order to scale and grow. As always, we bring you insight into

Enjoy the issue! Olivia Minnock olivia.minnock@bizclikmedia.com

the digital transformation journeys of leading finance and insurance w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

03


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CONTENTS

10 GORE MUTUAL: DIGITALLY DISRUPTING THE CANADIAN INSURANCE SPACE

30 OAKNORTH: HELPING SMEs FLOURISH THROUGH FINTECH APRIL 2019

38 Collibra Safe and secure digital disruption of finance giants


48

58

ACI Universal Payments: Driving global e-commerce sales in 2019

66 80 Top 10 insurtech companies

The biggest industry Events

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3 1

2

5 4

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84 Finning International

102 WestGUARD Insurance Company

114 Plymouth Rock Assurance w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


10

DIGITALLY DISRUPTING THE CANADIAN INSURANCE SPACE WRIT TEN BY

L AUR A MULL AN PRODUCED BY

JA K E MEGE ARY

APRIL 2019


11

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GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE

Gore Mutual Insurance may be Canada’s oldest property and casualty insurance firm but thanks to its latest digital transformation it’s more agile than ever 12

F

ounded in 1839 – 28 years before the founding of modern Canada – Gore Mutual Insurance is defined by its rich

history. The insurer has borne witness to two world wars, having pledged $50,000 and $100,000 to support the Canadian war effort in WWI and WWII respectively. The Canadian insurance company has also seen the advent of automobiles, offering automobile insurance for the first time in its centennial year, and then went on to help the victims of the catastrophic Grand River Flood. Later, in 2015, when new legislation offered the chance to demutualize, the firm decided against this, harking back to its long held desire to help communities in their times of need. Rooted in a tradition of courage and cooperation, Gore Mutual may be Canada’s oldest property and casualty (P&C) insurer but it isn’t bound by its historic legacy. APRIL 2019

Gore Mutual employees on site


13

In fact, in many ways, it has always been at the forefront of innovation. With almost two decades of experience at Gore Mutual, Jamie McDougall, Vice President, Business Intelligence & Analytics, has had a lasting impact on the firm’s digital and insurance footprint. Marrying his innate knowledge of the claims and underwriting business with a zeal for technology, he affirms that digitisation is helping the company “enable our broker partners in an increasingly digital world”. “We are using the w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


Impacting Business Results For almost two decades, Earnix data scientists, financial experts, and software engineers have worked to create a comprehensive analytics software solution that solves some of the most difficult product, pricing and channel challenges faced by financial institutions. With Earnix insurers, lenders, and other financial institutions can now incorporate into their product, risk, and delivery systems the same advanced analytics that make personalization possible for the tech giants.

www.earnix.com

Follow Us:


Gore Mutual Insurance Partners with Earnix to Improve Analytic Agility and Speed Time to Market Gore Mutual, a Canadian mutual insurance company that has provided community protection to personal and business customers for over 175 years, has partnered with Earnix to provide the best service possible to their broker network and customers. As part of an initiative to better understand their end customers and improve responsiveness to a constantly changing market, Gore has partnered with Earnix to continually improve analytical processes and better operationalize the speed of rate deployment to the marketplace.

Analytical Process Improvement. Gore traditionally has done risk and demand modeling, in order to understand customer propensities and exposure and determine the appropriate costs of risk transfer. As Gore has advanced to managing this modeling process holistically, through the use of an end to end data management, analytics, and pricing platform, they have realized the ability to understand their customers at an even deeper level. Gore utilizes predictive analytics to derive insight from the information that they receive, and in turn support the effective underwriting of risk accepted. Understanding and applying risk and demand thresholds to customer segments enables a more effective insurance transaction for all stakeholders. Speed Rate Deployment. Managing the rate deployment process at organizations like Gore requires accounting for many variables. Price changes must be made, approval and governance of changes must be received, and proposed changes must then be deployed to the market. Gore knew that only an end to end system with real time rating engine capabilities, integration to touchpoints such as core and policy admin systems, and the ability to monitor rate change performance would be the best solution for them. Gore has turned to Earnix as a partner to provide an end to end pricing and personaliza-

tion platform, which takes their operationalization of analytics to the next level. Earnix will provide a real time rating engine that is connected to all of Gore’s core platforms – including policy admin systems in the back office, and customer interaction systems in the front office. The ability to develop, execute, monitor, and refine multiple pricing structures and strategies with high performance and reliability allows for improved governance and control. For Gore, the capability to deploy rates and rate changes in real time allows the pricing process to be operationalized very quickly. As Gore works to distribute these analytic and time to market improvements across the business, many other future advancements are being considered as well. Machine learning tools and capabilities are being researched, as a way to automate processes and understand their customer base even further. Being able to use the Earnix rating engine capabilities to take any analytical model developed by any tool and use it in a real time manner is also an exciting possibility. The partnership between Earnix and Gore is creating a strong foundation for future advancements, including the use of analytics and personalization in every project that Gore undertakes.


GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE

1839

Year founded

500

Approximate number of employees

16

explosive developments in digitization

the aim of making its use more

data, business intelligence (BI),

pervasive in the business, Gore Mutual

self-service analytics, machine

established BI and analytics as a sepa-

learning (ML) and artificial intelligence

rate entity and asked McDougall to

(AI) to enable a mature business

take on the role of Vice President of

transformation that is both genuine

Business Intelligence and Analytics. In

and thoughtful,” he explains.

doing so, Gore Mutual has sought to

The handling of data is nothing new

put more meaningful data, analytics,

for the insurance industry, but disrup-

insights and information at its leaders’

tive technologies are helping to

fingertips so that they can make better

uncover endless new opportunities.

decisions whilst enabling conversa-

Gore Mutual Insurance has identified

tions across the business. “Ongoing

BI and analytics as one such innova-

advances in data analytics allow us to

tion which is a “strategic priority”. With

be more agile and gather insights in

APRIL 2019


Gore Mutual employees assessing fire damage E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Jamie McDougall Jamie McDougall is responsible for advancing Gore Mutual’s business intelligence, analytics and actuarial capability, which are central to the company’s ability to continue providing leading products and solutions to its customers. His previous experience as Gore Mutual’s Vice President of Claims and Vice President of Personal Insurance are key to his current role, which also involves leadership in the implementation of major data and systems transformation across all lines of business. Prior to joining Gore Mutual, he spent several years as a Management Consultant in process improvement and performance management with a boutique consulting firm and completed his MBA with the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.

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17


TRANSFORMING THE INSURANCE WORLD

Visit our Site


FROM INFORMATION TO INSIGHT What gives Opta Information Intelligence a competitive edge in the market? What makes it unique? I believe our number one competitive edge is that our people possess an extraordinary amount of information about the Canadian market and specifically the Canadian insurance industry. In addition to this, we’ve also amassed the largest property data set in commercialized property. By utilizing the wealth of our dataset and our analytical capabilities, as well as our ability to understand the Canadian insurance market we have a unique perspective in the market. What advantages does the company’s technology offer? What outcomes can customers expect? We offer superior property information intelligence for underwriting purposes. Canada is the second largest country in the world; there are varying degrees of elevation, areas where there is floodplains or unprotected fire zones and then there are urban centres which have their own risks. We understand the Canadian geography and are the number one data provider to help organizations turn this into actionable insights. How has Opta Information Intelligence supported Gore Mutual Insurance in its latest digital transformation? Gore Mutual Insurance has been a very strong partner and believer in Opta’s solution. The company has also been a very helpful co-development partner in services that we’ve brought the Canadian market such as iClarify, which is the number one personalized property under-

writing quoting tool in the country. With Gore’s digital transformation, I believe that we were able to understand its unique position in the Canadian market place and respond with solutions in a customized fashion that help improve efficiency and drive improved underwriting results. Could you provide another example where Opta Information Intelligence has helped to enable digital transformation? When the Fort McMurray fire happened in Canada, nobody was able to really understand which properties were total loses and damaged or which ones weren’t. This was because you weren’t able to get on site for weeks after the fire. We were able to utilize advanced artificial intelligence (AI), satellite imagery and train computers to recognize which homes were lost and how much those losses would be. We hired a satellite to go over the area and within days of the fire, we were able to deliver a solution which demonstrated to a lot of insurers, the power of artificial intelligence, the potential of data and the realm of the possible. What does the future hold for Opta Information Intelligence? Are there any upcoming developments we should watch out for? We’re exploring opportunities within Fintech and Municipal markets within Canada. Our massive amount of data and professional attributes can offer new insights to different markets but ultimately our number one goal is to always be a relevant and meaningful partner to our Canadian insurance customers.


GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘GORE MUTUAL’S DISCOVERY CONCOURSE TOUR’ 20 the business,” says McDougall. “It

digital transformation efforts. “We’re

helps us improve our broker experi-

heavily focused on creating curated,

ence and the experience of our

quality data assets to build trust in the

consumers. We’re becoming more

information,” says McDougall. Forging

proactive and not just reactive. We are

a promising partnership with Informa-

driving improved claims and underwrit-

tion Builders, the Canadian business

ing operations,” he adds. “The new

has worked hard to master its data

entity is ensuring clarity of focus. It

and build quality data assets. “We

indicates to the organization that this

utilized their platform as a way to

is an enabling set of technologies and

distribute information and insights to

we recognize their value in the

the appropriate individuals so that we

insurance space.”

can make better and more informed

Good BI requires good data – and

business decisions,” he adds. “It has

this was top of the agenda for Gore

absolutely delivered concrete value to

Mutual as it embarked upon its latest

our consumers, to our brokers and to

APRIL 2019


our business.” This has allowed Gore Mutual to provide more sophisticated pricing to the market, whether offering auto insurance or even flood and earthquake insurance. Gore Mutual has also developed close ties with integrated software company Earnix, using its software to further empower the organization. In the fast-moving world of technology, close collaboration is everything. Championing this spirit, last year Gore Mutual built its

“We’re becoming more proactive and not just reactive. We are driving improved claims and underwriting operations” — Jamie McDougall, Vice President of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gore Mutual Insurance

Discovery Concourse in its campus

Gore Mutual – Innovation Lab

w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

21


“More than just another pretty dashboard...” Achieve profitable growth using trusted data and dashboards that use all of your P&C data.

Underwriting gets all history, with current and go-forward views, to manage risk

Actuaries get granular pricing and reserving data to be more accurate and faster

Claims knows where to cut leakage, tighten steps, and improve service

Information Builders can help.

We bring clear, actionable, and complete data – fast – to your executives, brokers, managers, and underwriters. With one unified, historical view of your business, you can drill down to address risk, pricing, and market segmentation. Shift from product-centric to customer-centric views of your business – giving a unique view to insured parties, brokers, policies, underwriters, assets, and claims. Just like that, your entire team can leverage all of your data to manage your book of business more effectively.

See the impact we’ve made for other P&C companies informationbuilders.com/omni-insurance


“In our business, responsiveness to the consumers’ needs is critical: we want to be there when they need us” — Jamie McDougall, Vice President of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gore Mutual Insurance

to transform with it, not only to remain commercially viable but also to protect customers. “In our business, responsiveness to the consumers’ needs is critical: we want to be there when they need us,” notes McDougall. “If we know that a dramatic storm is coming or a forest fire is burning, we can be proactive and identify the exposure, policies, and those consumers at risk. At times we have proactively called brokers, identified the consumers in their portfolio that are at risk and then proactively contacted them to ensure that they’re okay and that they didn’t

in Cambridge, Ontario. This is a spot

experience loss. This data offers

where continuous innovation seems to

transformative value that we can bring

be in the air and where the hands-on

to the business.” As well as using its

creation of insurance solutions is

own analytics, Gore Mutual has

commonplace. Featuring a high-tech

worked shoulder to shoulder with Aon

innovation lab, McDougall says this

to try and understand the “complexity

area acts as a hub where “brokers,

of catastrophic loss protection” when

insurtechs, reinsurers, technology

creating models for flood or earth-

partners and Gore Mutual employees

quake risk. The firm has also forged

from different departments can

ties with DMTI for detailed location

collaborate on solutions to solve

information, which McDougall

industry issues”.

describes as “a quality data provider”.

This proactive stance is a must in the

Another key insurance industry data

insurance world. The nature of risk is

partner, OPTA Information Intelligence,

ever-changing – and insurance needs

has enabled Gore Mutual to improve w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

23


GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE

Gore Mutual – Discovery Concourse

Model with confidence in Canada Impact Forecasting’s enhanced flood model for Canada, covering both fluvial and pluvial flood perils, enables insurers to delve into the latest scientific data to support both primary underwriting and portfolio risk management. Moreover, high resolution flood hazard and risk maps provide detailed and methodologically-consistent insights into flood risk across populated Canada. How can YOU benefit from partnering with Impact Forecasting to tackle risk assessment for this increasingly important peril? NEW! We are working on an earthquake model in collaboration with Global Earthquake Model foundation to leverage the state-of-the-art local science and data to complement our suite of products available for Canada – watch this space! If you would like to demo our catastrophe modelling solutions and risk mapping products, please contact sarka.cerna@aon.com


25 its assessment of risk through advanced information tools as well as through OPTA’s developing of advanced analytics and modelling. Gore Mutual’s openness to enhancing its abilities through quality partnerships is a credit to the insurer and a recognition that in advanced analytics there are many paths to success. As well as industry partnerships, McDougall is keen to shout about Gore Mutual’s remarkable network of brokers as well as its internal team. Attracting and retaining talent may be a challenge for some businesses, but

“Our value proposition for attracting and retaining talent is about creating a very complete and holistic value proposition for employees” — Jamie McDougall, Vice President of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gore Mutual Insurance w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


GORE MUTUAL INSURANCE

at Gore Mutual McDougall asserts that individuals seeking “breadth of scope, accountability and ownership” are easily attracted to the firm. “We’re large enough to be dynamic and creative,” he adds. “Our value proposition for attracting and retaining talent is about creating a very complete and holistic value proposition for employees.” McDougall has evidence to back up this claim: last year Gore Mutual was awarded for being a ‘Best Workplace in Canada’ and also 26

recognized as a ‘Best Workplace in Financial Services and Insurance’ by

“I’m confident that Gore Mutual will continue to evolve to become an increasingly analytic yet always human business” — Jamie McDougall, Vice President of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Gore Mutual Insurance

APRIL 2019

Gore Mutual – Cambridge Campus the Best Workplaces Award and Great Place to Work® Canada respectively. In February 2019, the business was named an ‘Employee Recommended Workplace’ for putting employees’ health, wellness and workplace experience at the forefront of its operations. McDougall is confident that 2019 will remain a banner year for the firm as there has been a “resurgence or recognition of the mutual proposition”. On the road ahead, Gore Mutual is set to keep its finger on the pulse of the


27

latest technology trends as it constant-

“We continue to grow and invest in our

ly evolves and grows into a leading

people, our business and our commu-

mid-market modern mutual insurance

nities. I’m confident that Gore Mutual

company. Yet it’s clear that despite this

will continue to evolve to become an

bright future, the firm won’t forget its

increasingly analytic yet always

historic legacy any time soon. “Gore

human business.”

Mutual will be 180 years old this year and we’re very proud of our history,” concludes McDougall. “The organization started as a district mutual fire insurance company and has become ingrained in the communities where we live and work – it’s part of our story.” “We’re a modern mutual,” he asserts. w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


Covering every angle in the digital age The Business Chief platforms offer insight on the trends influencing C and V-level executives, telling the stories that matter

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LEADERSHIP

30

HELPING SMEs FLOURISH THROUGH FINTECH Fresh from SoftBank investment and a debut on the Martin Lewis Money Show, we caught up with COO Amir Nooriala to find out what’s next for the cloud based challenger bank WRITTEN BY

APRIL 2019

OLIVIA MINNOCK


31

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LEADERSHIP

I

n the past, high street banks each had a bank manager familiar with local businesses, who could approve loans based on knowledge

of a small or medium business and its owner. Amir Nooriala, COO of

UK-based challenger bank OakNorth, says that nowadays, with local branches disappearing across the

“ACT AS IF YOU HAVE NO MONEY, EVEN IF YOU HAVE MONEY. IT WAS THAT LEANNESS THAT GOT YOU THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE”

UK and larger financial institutions concentrating on huge capital investments, SMEs have been left

Amir Nooriala, COO, OakNorth

significantly underserved. “Those 32

bank managers have gone,” he comments. “There’s now a central computer. So in a world where people have gone to technology and scale, we can actually recreate the

at Barclays Investment Bank. “I spent

bank manager using artificial

my career working across pretty

intelligence (AI) and machine

much every area of tech you can, as

learning.” Enter OakNorth, launched

well as lots of different operations

in 2015, which provides business and

departments – I’ve run lots of change

property loans worth between

programs,” he comments. Now,

£500,000 and £45mn in order to

Nooriala is in charge of operations

help businesses scale and grow.

at a fast-growing unicorn which has

Becoming COO in July 2018, Noo-

soared into pole position as the most

riala brought with him experience

valuable fintech in Europe – operat-

from software and consultancy

ing directly in the UK and across

giants Cisco and Accenture, his own

the continent via licensed platforms.

startups, as well as a significant stint

Nooriala cites the hugely under-

APRIL 2019


33

served SME market as key to the

that we’ve gone from zero to profit-

business’ rapid growth – at the end

able, to a multi-billion-dollar loan book,

of 2017, OakNorth had lent £852mn,

we actually think that’s small com-

and by the end of 2018 this had

pared to what we’re going to achieve

grown to £2.2bn.

in the next two years.” Nooriala’s faith

“Within that £2.2bn, we’ve had

in the organisation is shared by

£500mn in repayments,” Nooriala

outside investors, too, with OakNorth

comments. “So about 15% of our

having recently received $440mn in

loans have already been repaid and

investment from a funding round led

we’ve never had a default,” he adds,

by Japanese tech giant SoftBank’s

illustrating that when served correctly,

$100bn Vision Fund. The company’s

SMEs can be reliable and lucrative.

valuation had already surpassed $1bn

“As much as it sounds phenomenal

in 2017, and then reached $2.8bn. w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


LEADERSHIP

34

A LEAN, AGILE FINTECH

thing: it clouds your vision. Even

OakNorth has leveraged the latest

though we were cash flow positive

technology in order to provide a

within 11 months of founding this

bespoke service to clients which

business, it didn’t change our

cannot be offered by smaller or

behaviour. Even with several hundred

more corporate lenders. Machine

million from Softbank, that still won’t

learning deals with the unstructured

change. Every decision will be made

data provided by clients. “You need

commercially – is there a business

to be able to take that spreadsheet

case? Is there a return on that money

– SMEs aren’t sophisticated enough

within a timeline we’re happy with?”

to have a big, expensive accounts

For any growing business, Nooriala

package – and structure this

offers the same advice. “Act as if you

information.” The firm then adds

have no money, even if you have

localised market data to this

money. It was that leanness that got

information and uses AI to draw

you there in the first place.”

insights. “That’s then handed to

The company has not only

a human to do analysis on: nobody

remained lean but also humble, keep-

in our company wastes time doing

ing operations and services simple

things that do not add value. They’re

and relevant to customer needs, as

doing deep credit analysis insights

well as retaining an original ethos of

that then lead to underwriting

ensuring employees are valued and

decisions. That’s how we can scale

feel part of the business, often in

and serve these customers in

more ways than one. In fact, Nooriala

a profitable manner.”

himself has invested in the company.

And scale OakNorth has – but

“I got shares when I joined and I’ve

integral to its success has been

bought additional shares since. I

retaining a startup mindset.

believe in the company and I think

“Businesses can get bloated.

that earnest mentality our employees

Having too much funding is a bad

have is a massive advantage.”

APRIL 2019


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘AN UPDATE FROM OAKNORTH’S FOUNDERS’ 35

THE MARTIN LEWIS EFFECT

“WHEN YOU BUILD perhaps its greatest test when the YOURSELF IN THE CLOUD, business was featured on the popular Money Saving Expert’s ITV proYOU CAN SCALE UP FOR gramme, The Martin Lewis Money Show. The programme, which airs on THESE RANDOM a Monday night for viewers across EVENTS AND the UK, contacted OakNorth on a Thursday to confirm rates as it NOT CRASH” intended to feature the company the This mentality and attitude took

following week. OakNorth readied itself for the so-called Martin Lewis effect: every bank featured on the

Amir Nooriala, COO, OakNorth

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LEADERSHIP

36

show receives an overwhelming

AWS to add more infrastructure for

amount of web traffic, with many

the anticipated surge, as well as

sites crashing as a result.

bringing the launch date of its new

This was a huge opportunity

ISA product forward in time for the

OakNorth had the infrastructure to

show. A dedicated team worked

seize, and the team got to work

throughout the weekend and when

taking advantage of both a can-do

Monday arrived, at OakNorth’s TV

attitude and scalable architecture.

mention traffic on the website spiked

“We architected our current technol-

over 50 times. “Nothing crashed,

ogy to scale horizontally,” Nooriala

nothing slowed down. People started

explains. “You can bolt on more and

to deposit money, exploring the ISA

more hardware as you need, without

product. When you’re a brand new

having to change the actual code.”

bank that’s architected correctly,

The company spoke with partner

when you build yourself in the cloud,

APRIL 2019


“NOBODY IN OUR COMPANY WASTES TIME DOING THINGS THAT ARE NOT VALUE-ADD” Amir Nooriala, COO, OakNorth

or down on demand. We’re not tied to a physical location. In addition, the tools that come from providers like AWS as part and parcel of the cloud experience will allow OakNorth to experiment with new technologies. “That’s something key to tech companies: we can experiment, fail, pull out and try something different,” he adds. To fulfil Nooriala’s lofty ambitions for OakNorth over the next two years, the business will continue to grow organically, looking outside Europe toward APAC and the US to raise more awareness of its service. SoftBank’s funding will be used to

you can scale up for these random

expand capabilities to North Ameri-

events and not crash,” Nooriala

can banks so they, too, can better

comments, “and when you have

serve SMEs and the unicorn’s AI and

an agile team that’s fully motivated

machine learning capabilities will be

and bought into the company,

further strengthened to that

they’ll put in the hours to bring

OakNorth can continue in its aim to

something forward.”

help those underserved businesses grow and flourish.

A FUTURE IN THE CLOUD As OakNorth grows, Nooriala is adamant that cloud technology will drive its expansion. “We’re not tied to anything. Being on the cloud means we can change a lot quicker, scale up w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

37


D I G I TA L T R A N S F O R M AT I O N

Collibra Safe and secure digital disruption of finance giants

38

Collibra provides data governance for some of the world’s largest companies, including financial institutions. CEO Felix Van De Maele explains how the European tech unicorn helps organisations navigate the disruptive fintech landscape WRITTEN BY

APRIL 2019

OLIVIA MINNOCK


39

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D I G I TA L T R A N S F O R M AT I O N

40

I

n 2008, nobody was really talking about Big Data – but the financial crash led to more

stringent regulatory requirements for banks to manage the sensitive information they possessed.

Meanwhile, data governance firm Collibra was formed out of the University of Belgium’s research into semantic technology. CEO and co-founder Felix Van de Maele explains: “We were researching how to bring domain experts together and help figure out what data really means, because semantic technology is about how you define data in a way that it can be understood not just by people, but also by computers.” Now, financial institutions had to be even more in control of their data, knowing where it was APRIL 2019


FACTS

• Collibra raised $100mn in its latest funding round, bringing its value to over $1bn. • Collibra is backed by Google’s investment arm, Capital G

41

coming from, who was responsible for

“We were very happy that CapitalG and Google reached out to us” — Felix Van de Maele CEO and Co-Founder, Collibra

it, and that processes were in place to fix any problems that cropped up. Since this initial approach to compliance, which was defensive and reactive, data has been brought to the fore of the finance industry. Fast forward to 2019 and Chief Data Officer is a key role for companies as data management is recognised as a core strategic function. “Today, data drives the whole digital transformation,” says Van de Maele. “AI, machine learning, IoT: it’s all about data.” w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


D I G I TA L T R A N S F O R M AT I O N

“Today, it’s not just about compliance. It’s about how we can compete with those data first companies like Google, Amazon or Facebook” — Felix Van de Maele CEO and Co-Founder, Collibra

42

A COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE Nowadays, financial institutions are not just in competition with each other, but with all kinds of client-facing organisations which serve an increasingly demanding consumer with their efficiency and ease of use. “Today, it’s not just about compliance. It’s about how we can compete with those data first companies like Google, Amazon or Facebook,” Van de Maele explains. “How can we extract more value? How can we serve our customers better? How can we build better products?” Extracting value from the reams of data available nowadays and using this to disrupt the financial landscape is where Collibra comes in. “We believe data is becoming so valuable we need to treat it as a real asset and a key part of the business process. Just like you have SAP to automate and formalise your financial processes and Salesforce for your customer processes, you need a system to run and support your data processes.” Collibra’s data governance products and solutions are instrumental in helping organisations unlock the value of data, whilst remaining secure

APRIL 2019


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘COLLIBRA DATA GOVERNANCE’ 43

and compliant with regulations such

CapitalG and Google reached out to

as GDPR. “We are, so to speak, the

us because the Google engineers said:

system of record for the data team.”

‘This is a really important problem and

It’s certainly a service with high

Collibra is the company that’s solving it

demand – last year, the company

in the best way.’ I think Google is probably

celebrated a growth rate of 80% and

the most mature data company in the

today it serves around 300 customers

world – even around artificial intelligence

including some of the largest compa-

(AI) and machine learning.”

nies in the world. In January, Collibra

Tech giants are rightly taking an

raised $100mn in its Series E funding

active interest in what Van de Maele

round, led by Google’s investment arm

dubs the ‘fintech revolution’. “It’s all

Capital G. This brought the company’s

about the customer, and I think within

value to over $1bn, affording it unicorn

the financial services industry it’s hard

status. “We were very happy that

because you still have that need for w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


D I G I TA L T R A N S F O R M AT I O N

compliance,” he comments. “Some of the large established banks have legacy infrastructure which makes it harder for them to move faster.” This is where data comes in, helping to improve customer service, build new products and drive automation. Secure, compliant transformation As part of any digital transformation, security is often a concern for clients and end users, and this is only heightened when dealing with finance. “Data is going to become the differentiator, but what is going to be really 44

important is that the consumer trusts the company that handles their data,”

companies in the world,” Van de

Van de Maele explains. “I think that’s

Maele comments. “We have real

a unique opportunity for larger financial

strategic partnerships with our

institutions because they often have

customers. From a support, services

that trust – but it comes with a lot of

and sales perspective it’s really

responsibility. I think the key challenge

important to keep investing to meet

is how we leverage data to extract the

customer expectations.”

most value, while still making sure we

In addition, Collibra’s partnership

comply with regulations and keep the

with – and investment from – CapitalG

trust of our customers.”

will allow the startup to leverage AI

Building on its impressive growth,

and machine learning further than ever

Collibra will look to remain sustainable

before. “There are two ways we will

and maintain the quality of its product

leverage that: one is embedding even

as it expands and innovates. “Our

more AI and machine learning into our

product is enterprise grade because

own products, and driving automation.

we’re working with the largest

Through AI and machine learning, we

APRIL 2019


“The largest institutions are going to feel the pressure of those fintech startups” — Felix Van de Maele CEO and Co-Founder, Collibra 45 can automatically route data to the right

competition which will always breed

approval to show it’s GDPR compliant.

innovation – it’s likely that yet more

“The other way is within data science

banks will look to tech startups like

teams themselves. We’re now seeing AI

Collibra to transform safely and securely.

and machine learning become more

“The largest institutions are going to feel

mature. As a bank, you need to make

the pressure of those fintech startups,”

sure you are compliant: you need

says Van de Maele, who feels this is the

transparency, predictability and

time for banks to ask themselves

traceability… and you can enable that

serious questions. “How do we make

with AI and machine learning. That’s

the most of the unique data assets

where there’s a big opportunity to

we have to really drive innovation and

extend the platform, and to provide

serve our customers better? I think

transparency and control of data.”

they’ll feel the pressure to do that.”

As the finance space begins to grow and change – with fintechs and challenger banks providing increasing w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


M O B I L E PAY M E N T S

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Driving global e-commerce sales in 2019 EXPERTS FROM ACI WORLDWIDE TAKE A LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES SET TO IMPACT THE GLOBAL E- COMMERCE MARKET THIS YE AR WRITTEN BY

RICHARD JOLLY, PHILLIP FINNEGAN & LESLIE CHOO

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49


M O B I L E PAY M E N T S

E

very industry varies from region to region, with each location in the world having its unique challenges. However,

when it comes to e-commerce, there are some elements that all business leaders should take note of. In this article, experts from ACI Worldwide – Richard Jolly, Direct Merchant of e-commerce, EMEA, Phillip Finnegan, Vice President and General Manager, Pacific region, and Leslie Choo, Managing Director

50

in the ASEAN region – come together to share their thoughts on what’s set to disrupt the e-commerce market in the coming year. Across the world, retail e-commerce sales continue to rise: this year alone, sales are expected to grow by 21.5% compared to 2018. While it’s no surprise that merchants face different challenges depending on markets or geography, there are also many similarities. A primary requirement for retailers and merchants this year will be understanding and planning for increased physical and digital convergence as a way to serve customers in all areas of commerce. Retailers are also focused on ensuring their shopping, payment and fulfilment methods easily support the increasing demands from customers for seamless APRIL 2019


‘Payments remain one of the most vital customer touchpoints during the entire shopping experience’

51

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M O B I L E PAY M E N T S

transitions from one chanel to another.

top three payment methods in a coun-

This article discusses the global

try have increased conversion rates

trends in e-commerce across

by up to 30%, it has become crucial to

EMEA, the Pacific region and ASE-

tailor payment methods. This is par-

AN area, comparing and contrast-

ticularly significant in Europe, where

ing what is expected for 2019.

there is a vast selection of payment preferences across the region, such as

52

EMEA INSIGHTS

traditional cards (credit and assorted

As payments remain one of the most

national debit schemes), mobile wallets

vital customer touchpoints during

(e.g. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay), on-

the entire shopping experience, this

line bank transfer and invoice. Payment

year will see one main challenge for

preferences can vary significantly

merchants in EMEA: how to deliver

between markets and across various

a seamless experience that maxim-

demographic groups, particularly in

ises the chance of converting sales.

countries like Germany where there is

With research showing that

a very distinctive payments landscape.

businesses which offer the

APRIL 2019

Although this isn’t a new challenge,


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘UNIVERSAL PAYMENTS FROM ACI: TRUE ENTERPRISE PAYMENTS’ 53

it is becoming an increasingly impor-

part of this challenge for merchants

tant one for European merchants who

in the EMEA region. Addressing this

are investing more efforts in cross-

entails implementing the right tech-

border and cross-channel trade. To

nology and enlisting expert support.

give themselves the greatest chance of international success, they need

PACIFIC OVERVIEW

to offer the local payment methods

With Europe concentrating on creating

that are recognised, trusted and used

a seamless experience and how to

by the end consumer. Many payment

maximise conversion, the Pacific

methods that were previously nascent

region is more focused on how to

are now described as mainstream.

alleviate merchant fraud. Although

Cost-effectively accessing the right

EMV chip acceptance has significantly

acquirers and ensuring exact, frictionless

reduced certain types of merchant

fraud protection is also an imperative

fraud, there is undoubtedly more work w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


M O B I L E PAY M E N T S

required in the coming years. 85% of fraud in Australia is currently driven by card-not-present fraud. With online shopping traffic growth increasing to 19.2% in 2017, up from 11.5% in 2016, there is plenty of opportunity for retailers, as long as they are able to implement the appropriate fraud protection measures. In line with global trends, we can expect to see significant growth in alternative payments. Last year, Alipay and ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes such as Zip and Afterpay saw significant 54

uptake. Merchant demand has seen acquirers and larger payments players work hard to make sure these payment methods are accepted across in-store and online channels. Additionally, many domestic debit card schemes are also set to move online and drive widespread acceptance this year. For retailers in the Pacific region, the unique opportunity is to capture a greater share of the giant Asian markets. Products from Australia and New Zealand are in high demand in Asia, so the ability to effectively service cross-border trade from these markets, particularly into China, will be a critical challenge for merchants this year. APRIL 2019

‘Many payment methods that were previously nascent are now described as mainstream’


ASEAN TRENDS Although it could be argued that merchant fraud remains a global concern, the major trend in the ASEAN region for 2019 is set to be the uptake of new payment options. There has been a significant rise in payment options compared to two years ago. We’ve seen payment methods such as Alipay and WeChat Pay that are now well entrenched in China becoming an increasingly important part of the payment mix across ASEAN, as these countries also strive to capture a share of the Chinese market. Additionally, national real-time payment schemes are increasing usage of realtime payments by consumers – notably in peer-to-peer funds transfers, but increasingly in interactions between consumers and businesses. Singapore’s w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

55


M O B I L E PAY M E N T S

PayNow Corporate and Malaysia’s DuitNow both launched in 2018 and will have an impact in 2019. China has become one of the largest markets for both domestic and international transactions. This development has encouraged many of the very large merchants such as Alibaba Group and JD.com to investigate the idea of branching out

‘For retailers in the Pacific region, the unique opportunity is to capture a greater share of the giant Asian markets’

their e-commerce services to capture more ASEAN customers. This is expected to continue driving 56

the trend towards cross-border commerce in the region and it is expected that both B2C and B2B cross-border commerce will be a major growth

area for merchants in the ASEAN region this year. There will, however, be many challenges to address, such as understanding and addressing the local regulations in each country. The other big challenge that will be faced with this cross-border growth is the capacity to understand and secure against fraud in various countries and new markets. Taking advantage of global consortium data and seeking advice from global e-commerce experts will be a crucial step for merchants as they plan their growth path.

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57

COMMON THEMES ACROSS GLOBAL E-COMMERCE Even though it is intriguing to see

and adapt their fraud and security approaches over multiple jurisdictions. As the growth in IoT-connected

perspectives on payment behaviours

devices continues to rise, these shared

from around the globe, it is evident

challenges will persist as merchants

that there are many common themes

seek ways to take advantage of the

and challenges. Cross-border and

emerging opportunities. Overall,

international expansion is clearly

a clear and tailored payment and fraud

a priority shared across the global

strategy is critical in guaranteeing

merchant payments community,

a seamless and safe experience.

and could well increase the focus on fraud and compliance, especially considering PSD2 and GDPR in Europe require merchants to monitor w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


The eve increas role of facial recogni CYBERSECURITY

58

APRIL 2019


ersing f

59

WRITTEN BY

ition RUPERT SPIEGELBERG

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CYBERSECURITY

Rupert Spiegelberg, CEO at identity verification platform IDNow, discusses how facial recognition can provide both security and convenience in the world of finance as customer expectations continue to increase

60

D

igitisation is influencing the majority of industries, and it is driving an increasing consumer demand for

highly personalised, fast, convenient,

connected interactions that suit busy ‘onthe-go’ lifestyles. Our expectations of how we interact with companies have never been higher. In today’s hyper-connected global society, we are in an economy of ‘right now’. From ordering our favourite food to applying for a loan, customers want instant service. This is leading to a rise in digital identities which are becoming the new currency, as companies need an easy, compliant and trusted way to find out who their customers really are. Through the development of facial

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61

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CYBERSECURITY

“The challenge for businesses as they digitise their services is to quickly and confidently verify customer identity” 62

— Rupert Spiegelberg, CEO, IDNow

recognition software, organisations are able to achieve this and, as a result, offer more services online which may previously have been limited due to age or legal restrictions, such as online gambling, applying for a credit card or mortgage, or even renting a car. This demand for instant gratification is no different in the financial industry – consumers want quick and easy access to accounts, loans and mortgage applications, and as a result more and more transactions are moving online. Both challenger banks and traditional banks are moving towards a more digital centric approach: for challenger banks, this provides a perfect platform to gain a more aggressive market share; traditional banks are looking to modernise and adapt to cater for a more digitally driven generation. However, in a world where data breaches are becoming commonplace,

— Rupert Spiegelberg CEO, IDNow

persuading a customer to share their personal and financial details online requires two important things: trust in the institution and a positive user experience. Fail on either of these levels and the customer will likely

APRIL 2019


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘IDNOW IDENTITY-AS-A-SERVICE SOLUTION DESIGNED FOR THE NOW ECONOMY’ 63

terminate any transaction before

financial crisis, global institutions have

signing on the dotted line. In addition,

been fined US$26bn for violations

the challenge for businesses as they

relating to AML and KYC regulations.

digitise their services is to quickly and

With this in mind, it’s imperative that

confidently verify customer identity.

businesses adhere to regulations while

Online banking is governed by

still providing a fast and convenient

special regulations, such as the Know

service. This, after all, is why custom-

Your Customer (KYC) standards set

ers have chosen to sign up online in the

out in the EU’s Third Anti-Money

first place, rather than visit a traditional

Laundering (AML) Directive. This

institution.

means that handling online transaction

Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered

processes in the financial sector is

technology, with tools such as facial

considerably more challenging than it

recognition, allows organisations to

is in other sectors. Since the 2008

address these concerns. These w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


CYBERSECURITY

solutions use algorithms to read security features embedded in ID documents, such as driving licenses and ID cards, in order to detect forged identities. Facial recognition is today considered to be a preferred biometric benchmark and can enable financial institutions to accurately and securely valid customer authenticity, without pulling consumers into a timely and drawn out process. Facial recognition is already accepted as a valid method of ID in the 64

financial sector across Europe – even in the most highly regulated countries such as Austria and Germany. However, it’s not just the financial sector which is benefitting from facial recognition software. More organisations and departments are starting to roll this out as a way to help validate identity. In fact, anyone with a new Apple smartphone will already be aware of the technology. Apple recently switched out its fingerprint identity for facial recognition software, and we are seeing other sectors such as online gambling sites look to support this as valid method of ID. Other organisations are also looking APRIL

2019


“It’s imperative that businesses adhere to regulations while still providing a fast and convenient service” — Rupert Spiegelberg, CEO, IDNow

at ways to embed facial recognition as a way to improve services. Dating sites, social media platforms and PlayStation games are starting to consider ways in which facial recognition can enhance their service. Likewise, Amazon recently announced its plans to look at using facial recognition to support Alexa when it comes to making purchases. Biometric identification methods that are already established in the public sector can also be of interest to private companies, and we are likely to see more organisations deploy this. It is a fast and effective method of customer authentication, already proven within the banking industry – one of the most highly regulated industries in Europe. Facial recognition will only continue to grow and encompass more industries and sectors as we become focused on a digitally driven world.

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T O P 10

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Top 10

insurtech companies 96% of insurers think digital ecosystems are having an impact on the insurance industry, according to Accenture — and perhaps nothing demonstrates this better than the rise of disruptive insurtech enterprises. Using the Post Insurtech 100 ranking, we take a look at the top ten insurtech firms. WRITTEN BY

LAURA MULLAN

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T O P 10

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10 BIMA Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, BIMA has proved to be a leading insurtech player, reaching around 26mn customers across 14 countries. The business hopes to promote financial inclusion by offering insurance and mobile health services for low-income families. In fact, BIMA says that 75% of its customers are accessing insurance for the first time and 93% live on less than US$10 per day. Ranked 10th in the Post Insurtech 100 ranking, BIMA has raised $110mn in capital so far. Allianz’s digital-focused investment arm, Allianz X, invested $96mn in the startup in 2017.

APRIL 2019


69

09 Quantemplate Quantemplate is a London-based insurtech firm than offers machine learning, data transformation and analytics solutions for insurance professionals. Led by CEO David Lundgren, the firm has an international footprint with offices in the USA and EMEA. The insurtech business is supported by leading investors and financial and insurance companies such as Anthemis Group, Route 66 Ventures Inc., Transamerica and Allianz.

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T O P 10

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08 Slice Providing pay-per-use insurance for the on-demand economy, Slice was listed 8th on the Post Insurtech 100 ranking. Founded in 2015, the firm offers an insurance cloud service (ICS) platform that caters to the gig economy. Today, Slice has offices in New York City, Cleveland, Ottawa and London. The company has raised around $40.5mn across all its funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

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71

07 Trov ¯ Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Trōv is an on-demand insurance platform that allows consumers to insure single items for any period of time they need entirely from their mobile phone. On its company website, the firm claims to be “reinventing insurance for the mobile generation by making it simple, flexible and transparent”. Claiming the 7th spot on the ranking, Trōv is available in Australia and the UK, and began its US roll-out in 2018.

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T O P 10

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06 Neos Specialising in home insurance, Neos was founded in 2016 and now has gained the 6th spot on the Post Insurtech 100 ranking. As well as home insurance and 24/7 assistance, the UK-based firm offers smart technology such as smart sensors and indoor security cameras so that consumers can protect their home. Multinational insurer, Aviva, agreed to acquire a majority stake in the firm last year.

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05 Shift Technology Shift Technology has made a name itself by providing AI-native solutions for the global insurance industry. The Parisian firm offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that uses data science to detect networks of fraudsters in insurance. With a team of around 90 developers, data scientists and project managers, Shift Technology is headquartered in Paris, France. Its sister offices are located in Singapore, London, Madrid, Zurich and Hong Kong.

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T O P 10

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04 Lemonade Gaining the 4th spot on the Post Insurtech ranking, Lemonade claims to be the “world’s first open source insurance policy”. Headquartered in New York City, USA, Lemonade offers homeowners and renters insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioural economics. In 2016, the firm claimed to set a world record for the fastest claim handled in three seconds. Lemonade is a certified B-Corp — a for-profit business dedicated to making a positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment — and so it takes a flat fee.

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75

03 Oscar Health Aiming to be a health insurance company centred around the patient, Oscar Health has over 700 employees serving around 350,000 individual members and small businesses. The American firm offers insurance services in nine US States: New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, and Florida. Gaining the 3rd spot on the ranking, Oscar Health points out how it has “the highest mobile engagement of any insurer” with 43% of its members’ first visits to the doctor being routed through its technology and customer service teams.

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T O P 10

02 Acko General Insurance With investors including Amazon, SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Catamaran 76

Ventures, Acko General Insurance is a digital insurance firm based in India. The company raised a total of $42mn in funding and earned the 2nd spot on the Post Insurtech 100 ranking. The Mumbai-based startup was founded in 2017 by Varun Dua.

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T O P 10

01 ZhongAn Touting itself as “China’s first complete online insurance company”, ZhongAn has 78

claimed the top spot on the Post Insurtech leaderboard. The company’s CEO is Jin “Jeffrey Chen” but it was initially co-founded by some of the country’s most renowned business magnates including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance’s Mingzhe Ma. In 2017, the Chinese insurer raised $1.5bn in its IPO in what the Financial Times described as “the world’s first insurtech public offering.”

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EVENTS & A S S O C I AT I O N S

The biggest events and conferences around the EDITED BY OLIVIA MINNOCK world for fintech leaders

03–04 APRIL 2019

80

10–11 APRIL 2019

IP Expo Manchester

Dublin Tech Summit

[ MANCHESTER, UK ]

[ DUBLIN, IRELAND ]

Cybersecurity is a vital issue for fintech

Dublin Tech Summit is one of the larg-

leaders especially, and this event is the

est technology conferences in Europe,

UK’s biggest IT and cybersecurity event

promising a plethora of influential tech

outside of London. 2019 will mark the

leaders. 2019’s cohort include Werner

fifth iteration of the event which is made

Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, Douglas

up of professionals in cloud, infrastruc-

Terrier, CTO of NASA, and Mihai Alisie,

ture and cybersecurity. This year, it

co-founder of Ethereum. Attending

hopes to include more topics surround-

companies and partners at the Tech

ing data analytics, AI, software

Summit include Airbnb, Amazon,

development, IoT and Blockchain. With

Microsoft, Google, SAP and Facebook.

sponsors including Cisco and Sophos,

The event takes place at the Conven-

speakers at the event will range from

tion Centre in Dublin’s Docklands area,

Dr Nicola Millard, Head of Customer

just 20 minutes from the city’s interna-

Insights & Futures at BT, to Chris Testa-

tional airport. This event explores

O’Neill, Data Scientist at Microsoft.

technology transformation and the impact of digital disruption across many industries and as such offers valuable perspective for the fintech leader.

APRIL 2019


21–22 MAY 2019

03–05 JUNE 2019

ICT Spring Europe

Money 20/20 Europe

[ LUXEMBOURG ]

[ AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS ]

This year, ICT Spring Europe promises

Boasting over 6,000 attendees and

to focus on three key topics: digitalisa-

2,000 companies from around 82 differ-

tion, space and of course fintech. As

ent countries, over the course of the

such, attendees can expect to hear

three-day event more than 490 speakers

about AI, insurtech, venture capital,

are set to deliver around 80 hours of

IoT, telecommunications and satellites.

insightful content. Money 20/20 dubs

The two-day conference is made up of

itself as “where the payments, fintech

over 5,000 key decision makers across

and financial services industries come

various business sectors. ICT Spring is

together”. Attendees are promised origi-

held at the European Convention Cen-

nal content on both a regional and global

tre, minutes from Luxembourg airport,

scale, product launches, networking

and the event programme is packed

opportunities and access to exciting

with seminars and presentations. In

startups and innovators. 2018’s Europe

2018, notable speakers were Xavier

event featured prominent speakers

Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg;

including Ralph Hamers, CEO of

Susan Coleman, a Managing Director

ING Group; Andy Maguire, Group

at PwC; and John Thornhill, Innovation

COO of HSBC; and Steve Wozniak,

Editor at the Financial Times.

co-founder of Apple.

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EVENTS & A S S O C I AT I O N S

The biggest events and conferences around the EDITED BY OLIVIA MINNOCK world for fintech leaders

19–20 JUNE 2019

82

05–06 SEPTEMBER 2019

Blockchain Expo Europe

AI in Finance Summit

[ AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS ]

[ NEW YORK ]

Blockchain Expo is a series of confer-

Oganised by global summit creator

ences which take place in Europe and

ReWork, the AI in Finance Summit is

North America. A total of four co-located

co-located with the AI in Insurance

events throughout the year welcome

Summit and Women in AI Dinner. The

over 36,000 attendees, over 1000

previous iteration of the two-day event

speakers and over 1000 exhibitors.

included a host of practical work-

The Europe Expo takes place at

shops and informative presentations.

RAI Amsterdam with 10,000 guests

Confirmed speakers for 2019’s event

expected. Notable speakers on the

includes Joan Gelpi, SVP and Head of

agenda come from Maersk, Gucci,

Data Science at AIG; Manuela Veloso,

Volkswagen, Shell and IBM as the con-

Head of AI Research at JPMorgan

ference looks at the many uses of this

Chase & Co; and Charles Girve, Lead

disruptive technology. Topics to be

Data Scientist at Deutsche Bank. With

discussed over the two-day event

hours’ worth of networking opportuni-

include cryptofinance, blockchain for

ties, event is recommended for data

enterprise, cybersecurity and supply

scientists and engineers, financial

chain management.

regulators, C-level executives, venture capitalists and more, so there truly is set to be something for everyone.

APRIL 2019


23–25 SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER 2019

InsureTech Connect

Finovate Asia

[ MGM GRAND, LAS VEGAS ]

[ TBC ]

Billed as the world’s largest gathering

Following on from the success of 2018’s

of insurance leaders and innovators,

event in Hong Kong as part of the city-

InsureTech Connect (ITC) is highly

state’s Fintech Week, advance tickets

recommended for industry execs,

are already on sale for 2019 which

entrepreneurs and investors within,

promises 600+ attendees, 20+ firms

and impacted by, the insurance industry.

offering demonstrations and 80+ expert

This is the place to make global

speakers for a mix of speeches and

connections and understand what

panels. Finovate Asia advertises the

some of the world’s biggest players

opportunity for attendees to “meet

are doing to remain competitive in

the fintechs, platform players, financial

an increasingly digital landscape.

institutions, regulators and investors

2018 hosted a range of experienced

who are redefining the future of finan-

speakers including Dan Glaser, CEO

cial services”. Notable speakers in 2018

& President at Marsh & McLennan;

attended from Danske Bank, AXA Lab,

Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s; and Tracie

Accenture, Bank of America and Alipay.

Grella, Global Head of Cyber at AIG. With this in mind, the 2019 event is set to be a must-visit.

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FINNING INTERNATIONAL 84

A digitally–led cybersecurity transformation WRIT TEN BY

CATHERINE S TURM AN PRODUCED BY

JA K E MEGE ARY

APRIL 2019


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F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

Finning International has transformed its cybersecurity efforts, built strong partnerships and created a culture built on collaboration — Chief Information Security Officer Suzie Smibert tells us more

I

ndustry 4.0 is changing the game for the traditional industrial sector. New technologies and innovations have seen original

equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers turn towards new solutions to ensure greater efficiency, improve safety, meet compliance requirements and guarantee substantial savings. However, such advances come with additional risks that can threaten 86

the security of consumer and machine data, with breaches found to be the most costly in the United States and Canada by the Ponemon Institute. With firm routes in Canada, Finning International now amasses an impressive global footprint, spanning three geographies. Employing more than 13,000 people worldwide, the business has accrued a world class network of product support services across British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and a portion of Nunavut, as well as the United Kingdom, Ireland and South America. Its formidable reputation in industrial markets, such as mining, construction and agriculture, has enabled the company to become a key figure in working with customers to achieve the lowest equipment owning and operating costs while maximizing uptime across their operations. APRIL 2019


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F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

88

“ We’re seeing a lot more digitization, connected assets and abilities to enhance performance solutions” — Suzie Smibert, Chief Information Security Officer

However, to counteract the growing threat of cybercrime across Finning’s international footprint and remain ahead of the curve, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Suzie Smibert has looked to place security at the forefront of every employee’s mind. Demonstrating effective leadership as Finning looks towards its long-term vision and digital strategy, Smibert has been key in transforming its image of a sole reseller and service provider to that of an innovative, technology led company. “My background is primarily in information security, which knows no sector boundaries. Finning was an interesting company to me when it was presented as an employment option as it was an industry I had never been part of previously. It’s an organization with impressive reach with of the potential to transform how heavy machinery is used on a global scale,” says Smibert. “One of the things that gets me the most excited about this company is that we are not afraid of thinking outside of the box, creating technology, thinking of how can we optimize our customers’ fleets and how we can provide customers with the best equipment,” she adds. “When you are a CISO, oftentimes you

APRIL 2019


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘FINNING PERFORMANCE SOLUTIONS’ 89 have your recipe that you use in one

its operations, which will filter into

organization, move on to the next and

its long-term aim to promote digital

use the same recipe with slight modifi-

innovation and engage further with its

cations for that specific business. As

diverse customer base.

Finning represented an industry I’d never

“In information security there is a lot

worked in, I didn’t know if my recipe

of convergence happening. Currently

would work. So, it was more exciting

there are an unsustainable number of

not to just ‘rinse and repeat’, but push

products and tools on the market which

myself towards something new.”

make it difficult to manage budgets,

With damage related to cybercrime

complexity and maintain the skills to

projected to hit US$6trn annually by

manage, in some cases as many as 50

2021, it has been essential for a leading

platforms at a company. I’m also seeing

company such as Finning to take

tools that are providing the right amount

a closer look at updating its systems,

of security, but could be better utilized

remove redundancies and streamline

and leveraged, whether inside of outside w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

90 of the security portfolio, across multiple

around how data is used, whether the

stress factors,” explains Smibert.

right level of consent has been granted,

“At Finning, our customers are evolving.

and whether the correct contractual

We are seeing a lot more digitization,

agreements are in place, all to guaran-

connected assets and abilities to

tee consumer trust and transparency.

enhance performance solutions for

“Security, compliance and regulation

how our customers manage fleets and

can be a necessary evil. It can take

utilize our equipment,” she adds. “An

time to explain and demonstrate that

example of this is, instead of just having

having security controls to protect our

a driver unit, now we can optimize how

customer data, employees’ data, meet

the machine is functioning by leverag-

privacy regulations wherever we are

ing data.” The monetization of data is

operating,” she reflects.

being seen across every industry, yet

“Internally, it takes a lot of relationship

Smibert is driven, and rightly so, to ensure

building amongst teams to help them

that the business remains pedantic

realize that we’re not going to slow

APRIL 2019


them down or prevent a product from

Protection Regulation (GDPR) across

being launched. We’re going to make

its European operations has seen

sure a product is not recalled because

Finning join the UK government’s Cyber

it was secured at the engineering stage

Essentials scheme which supports

and conception stage, as opposed to

businesses in protecting themselves

when it goes live. Reassurance that our

against common cyber threats. However,

role is not a showstopper to business,

most importantly, it works to ensure that

but is a enabler and can help us win

the business adheres to what Smibert

more business by demonstrating to our

coins as “the most stringent” framework,

customers that we are serious about

where the business has mapped each

their data, their privacy, and are taking

control it needs to follow, and has

control that is above the industry

selected the hardest to achieve, applying

standard. Having these controls in

this to its operations not just in Europe,

place is an incentive for our customers

but worldwide.

to consider us as a provider rather than going elsewhere.”

“We figure that if we set the bar high and require ourselves to meet the most stringent requirements everywhere, and

ROBUST SECURITY

by transforming our behavior, thought

The establishment of the General Data

process and policies, we will be able to

E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Suzie Smibert Suzie is a security practitioner with more than 18 years of experience and is currently Finning International Chief Information Security Officer. Working with the leadership team, Suzie provides leadership, vision, strategy and experience for all things security. She and her team are responsible for managing information security risks, protecting information and technology resources globally for Finning.

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91


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“Our role is not a showstopper to business, but is an enabler and can help us win more business” — Suzie Smibert, Chief Information Security Officer

talent” predominately from Calgary, she has been leading the transformation of Finning’s security and enterprise architecture services and embedded next generation multi-tool sets, allowing the business to improve its response, detection and management capabilities. “We have security individuals assigned to squads in the DevOps team. While they don’t sit in DevOps, they do report into the management team and exist as a service provider to that group, and continue to report into my organization. “We do security as code. A lot of our tasks

tell our users the same story wherever

and requests are automated, when they

they work in the world,” states Smibert.

are deemed low risk, it goes straight

“I travel to our operating regions frequent-

into code.”

ly, and many of my coworkers are also nomads, working from every one of our

PROMOTING COLLABORATION

facilities, different regions, different

As the business continually evaluates

countries. We can’t expect them to know

emerging products and technologies

which behavior to adopt wherever they

which could drive greater value, Smibert

travel. If we tell them one set of behaviors,

explains that the business undertakes

one set of policies to meet, it makes our

whole-market evaluations in advance

job easier in the back end, and makes it

of a product’s shelf life in order to remain

much easier on our workforce.”

resilient, and looks not only to long-

By harmonizing, centralizing and

standing players in the market, but also

simplifying Finning’s digital infrastruc-

to innovative startups that can bring

ture, Smibert has looked to promote

something unique to the table. “Many big

cross-collaboration and rework in-region

companies only work with organizations

management teams. Hiring “tremendous

that are tried and tested. At Finning, we w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

93


F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

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APRIL 2019

LEARN MORE


95

take well-calculated risks and work with

the business to embed next-generation

startups, or we consider open source

antiviruses across all of its digital

products after careful evaluation so that

environments, and gain chip intelligence,

we can get the best return on invest-

security protection and detection at all

ment and efficiency in our protection

of its endpoints. Not only that, it has also

and detection capabilities,� she says.

helped Finning practice better internal

Partnering with established players,

collaboration with broader technology

as well as pioneering startups, is

teams, identify applications or software

something to which Finning remains

that are no longer used and manage

thoroughly committed, in order to drive

its license with more efficiency.

further growth across the business

“We were able to not impact the end

and strengthen its security operations.

user, give them the visibility and tools

Collaborating with cybersecurity leader

they needed, but in the back end, save

CrowdStrike, for example, has allowed

a significant amount of money not only w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

with our security portfolio, but our data science team, employee productivity services team and networking teams. It’s been quite powerful for us. CrowdStrike’s main play is security, but we’re using it outside of what it’s normally known for.”

WELCOMING DIVERSE TALENT Additionally, observing technology as an enabler and not a sole tool in the creation of a thriving collaborative culture, Smibert has worked alongside the communications team and change management group as the business continues on 96

its transformation journey, providing exceptional support to employees as well as ample opportunities for personal and professional development. “As part of our awareness program, we’ve enlisted a psychiatrist to help us define how our people learn and how they retain information. Instead of having an article on our webpage every couple of months, we have videos, face-to-face, gamification, and a variety of approaches to reach and engage our employees. Not everybody learns in the same way, so with change management and psychology, we’ve transformed our communication to craft a message in a way that is not too techy, rather it is APRIL 2019


C O M PA N Y FACT S

• Finning has accrued a world-class network of product support services across Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South America. • Embedding next generation multi-tool sets has seen the business to improve its response, detection and management capabilities. • Finning looks not only to longstanding players, but towards start-ups that can bring something unique to the table. • Collaborating with CrowdStrike has allowed Finning to gain chip intelligence, security protection and detection across its endpoints.

approachable and relatable,” she explains. At Finning, Smibert is keen to stress that its employees are its strongest assets, and so upskilling its workforce will not only benefit employees but will also protect the organization, leading the business to avoid common cultural pitfalls across its various geographies. “We are in different countries in South America, and for someone that’s not going very frequently, they might think a Chilean and an Argentinian think the same and both speak Spanish, so everything should then be the same. In reality, it’s not,” she

states. “There are subtleties, even if they both speak the same language, operate and retain data. Our communications groups were fantastic in helping us avoid addressing employees or w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

97


F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

1933

Year founded

12,000+

Approximate number of employees

98

teams in a way that would not resonate

Across each of its operating regions,

with them. When you think of aware-

the business has sought to inspire the

ness and how you can really reach

innovators of tomorrow by supporting

and influence your employees, it gives

the growth in STEM-based roles.

you massive return on investment.�

Partnering with leading STEM outreach organization, Actua in Canada, Finning

LONG-TERM OPPORTUNITIES

provides financial support, volunteering

With such a global footprint, Finning

and hands-on opportunities to those

remains committed to contributing to

interested in areas such as program-

a number of charitable causes, but one

ming and coding.

key focus has been behind the delivery

“Finning wants to see more influx of

of science, technology, engineering

inclusive and diverse talent in the field

and mathematics (STEM) education.

of STEM, so we partnered with Actua,

APRIL 2019


99

which is a camp for students and young children, hosting engagement events

and the field of STEM.” Looking at further opportunities, the

on university campuses. I volunteer to

business has also recently acquired

help students understand the world

100% of 4Refuel Canada and 4Refuel

of technology and the world of cyber

US. As a leading mobile on-site refueling

security. In the past year, we did exercis-

company supporting customers across

es involving coding machines, allowing

the construction, transportation, power

them exposure to technology,” says

generation and oil and gas sectors, it will

Smibert. “Some of my coworkers have

provide a multitude of advantages for

invited students to come into a branch

Finning, as more than 95% of 4Refuel’s

to see the heavy equipment and what

profitability is generated in Canada.

a power systems engineer might do, so

“By having 4Refuel join us to serve

that they get attracted into the culture

customers across the different geograw w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


F I N N I N G I N T E R N AT I O N A L

phies where our customers operate, we’re going to reduce their potential downtime because they will have access to fuel to keep their operation going, as opposed to having to wait for delivery, or having a site that might not have all of the fuel capacity that they need. This is definitely one element where this acquisition will help us ensure our customers are up and running as much as they want, allowing them to be more nimble and at the end of the day, profitable,” says Smibert. “Additionally, having 4Refuel will 100

allow us to expand in some of our customer fleets where we might not have a service contract, primarily non-Caterpillar equipment. This will give us visibility in terms of the other assets that are used by our customers,

and how they’re utilizing the other equipment. It is our hope that by

“I volunteer to help students understand the world of tech– nology and the world of cyber security” — Suzie Smibert, Chief Information Security Officer APRIL 2019

providing holistic service that customers will think of us as the first place to buy their next piece of equipment.” Finning’s continued drive to fully expand its product and service offerings across Canada will see the business work towards a goal of acquiring 100% connected assets to deliver further support, and allow its data science and analytics teams identify business


101

opportunities to partner with its

ourselves in uncomfortable positions

vendors and customers and create

to achieve greater good, and do better

long-term opportunities.

for our customers, is something I’ve not

“Our next aim is to connect everything

seen elsewhere. It’s an inspiring part

and create new technologies that are

of our culture and a big part of what

going to transform and empower our

keeps me engaged in working here.”

customers and their partners to build and power a better world,” adds Smibert. In many places, once you have your initial transformation things slow down. The leadership at Finning hasbeen tremendous, and the willingness to put w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


LOGO HERE

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The secret behind Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies’ growth WRIT TEN BY

L AUR A MULL AN PRODUCED BY

ANDY TURNER

APRIL 2019


103

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B E R K S H I R E H AT H A W AY G U A R D I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N I E S

Competition may be rife in the insurance sector but Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies is proving it has the right strategy for success

P

erhaps no greater question faces companies today than: ‘How do I scale my business?’ Nowadays,

business headlines are inundated with stories touting the best tips and tricks for growth but surely, more than anything, it’s better to follow in the footsteps of a company which 104

has done it before? Insurers searching for the best tried-and-tested methods to scale their business need look no further than Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies, a fast-growing trailblazer in the US insurance market.

PREPARING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR GROWTH Since its founding in 1983, GUARD companies have gone from strength to strength and today, now known as Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Companies, the business stands as a prominent subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway – underwriting through its insurance companies: WestGUARD, AmGUARD, EastGUARD, NorGUARD and AZGUARD. The group provides commercial (and, most APRIL 2019


105

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B E R K S H I R E H AT H A W AY G U A R D I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N I E S

“We’re growing every year by 20-25% which shows that this is not a steady state company” — Sy Foguel, CEO and President, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD

was Executive Vice President. “At the time the company was writing around US$200mn of Workers Compensation premium in a dozen states,” he recalls. “Our vision from day one was to use the company as a platform to become a one stop shop for the insurance needs distributed by our agents. We started to introduce additional lines of coverage and built all the infrastructure.” Later in 2012, the organization changed hands again and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of National

106

recently, personal lines) insurance

Indemnity Company, which is part of

coverage and services to businesses

the Berkshire Hathaway Group. “Today,

of all types in the US. In fact, in 2017,

we are a $1.6bn company,” Foguel

the group issued over 250,000 policies

adds.

to businesses across the country.

COO Carl Witkowski, who has been

However, this success wasn’t achieved

with the company in different roles

because of luck or ‘just good timing’:

since 1989, adds that before gaining

throughout its history Berkshire

the backing of Berkshire Hathaway,

Hathaway GUARD has worked hard to

GUARD first had to forge its own path

redefine and reshape its strategy,

in the insurance market. “We were a

aligning the organization to achieve

small regional company and there

meteoric growth.

were two key things we had to offer:

The CEO, Sy Foguel, joined the

superior service and efficiency,” he

company in 2007 when the group was

observes. “Our retail agents are a key

acquired by Clal Insurance Enterprise

part of our DNA – they’ve been our

Holdings Ltd., an international insur-

distribution force.” Like any small

ance group of which he

operation, efficiency has always been a

APRIL 2019


107 well-versed mantra at GUARD. “We

company,” Witkowski recalls. “I was

needed to be efficient to survive as a

brought in to hone its processes,

company and so our expense ratios

create efficiencies and develop a

needed to be managed,” he continues.

managerial infrastructure.” As part of

“When we were later acquired, it was a

this process, the enterprise re-plat-

great example of when preparation

formed directly onto a browser-based

meets opportunity.” Critically, as the

modern architecture and went

insurer has continued on its upward

increasingly paperless – readying itself

trajectory, it has taken care to retain

for a digitally-savvy future. “We

this same start-up philosophy and

probably had one of the first browser-

mentality.

based client systems in the United States,” adds Witkowski. “We also

SPEARHEADING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

insurance companies, with both

“In 1989 GUARD was a small two-state

accomplishments partially enabled by

became one of the first paperless

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B E R K S H I R E H AT H A W AY G U A R D I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N I E S

108 our R&D approach to technology

“Whether it’s for claims processing or

yielding over a dozen patents.” With a

policy selection and pricing, we always

wealth of experience in insurance,

manage data down to the scintilla level.

Witkowski has witnessed firsthand how

This means we can provide our

the sector is moving from the paper-

analysts and actuarial staff the data

based work of the past towards a new

they need to make good, real-time

age powered by technology and data.

decisions,” he explains.

Many businesses contend that data

Digital transformation can put a

is the ‘new oil’ and the same sentiment

strain on any business’ wallet but at

rings true at Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD, the

GUARD. With reams of data at the

enterprise has shrewdly taken a build,

insurer’s fingertips, Foguel, who is an

rather than buy, approach. “A lot of

actuary by profession, believes that

resources, time and effort are con-

this appreciation of data gives the

sumed when companies decide to

organization a significant edge.

replace their policy administration

APRIL 2019


E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Sy Foguel As Chief Executive Officer and President, Sy Foguel leads the strategic planning and positioning of the organization, helping to promote initiatives that make realization of both short- and long-term goals possible. His involvement with the company has been marked by numerous accomplishments. While at Clal Insurance of Israel, he was the individual who first recognized the potential of a small, regional monoline carrier (i.e., GUARD in 2006) and was instrumental in the acquisition of this organization in 2007, which ultimately resulted in him being named Chief Executive Officer and President of GUARD. Since 2007, the company’s annual premiums have more than tripled (despite very challenging economic times) while maintaining a combined ratio well below industry peers and diversifying into new lines of property and casualty coverage. In 2012, he then helped orchestrate the profitable sale of GUARD to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (specifically National Indemnity Company) and has continued in his role as CEO/President — rebranding the group as Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies and becoming a nationwide carrier Prior to his current tenure, Foguel had accumulated diverse international, executive-level insurance industry experience, including roles as CEO of IDI Bituch Yashir of Israel, Executive Vice President of Clal Insurance of Israel, and Senior Vice President of Arch Insurance in the United States as well as being in charge of other international insurance ventures such as a Lloyd’s Syndicate and a Romanian entity. Sy is an honors graduate of the Computer Engineering and Mathematics Faculties at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is a certified actuary in both the US and Israel, and is a member of several actuarial societies in both countries (ACAS, FILAA).

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B E R K S H I R E H AT H A W AY G U A R D I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N I E S

E X ECU T I VE P RO FI LE

Carl Witkowski

110

Chief Operating Officer Carl Witkowski joined the organization in 1996 after working for nearly a decade as a consultant. Throughout his tenure, he has spearheaded numerous initiatives such as transforming the organization to 100% paperless processing in the early 2000’s and leading the re-platforming of our proprietary systems to a browser-based environment. Similarly, Witkowski’s prior leadership experience in the health care field has enabled him to serve a key role in formulating and shaping managed care strategies that have allowed Berkshire Hathaway GUARD to excel in delivering superior claims service that provides quality care to injured workers while containing costs. As current President of GUARDCo, he ensures standards of excellence and best practices are achieved. As part of his current duties, he leads Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s information and technology group and is also “curator” of the company’s “human capital” and culture. In 2001 (the only year the company participated), GUARD was named the second Best Large Place to Work in Pennsylvania. All operational units currently fall under Witkowski’s leadership, including Claims processing, Small and Intermediate Business Unit underwriting, and Customer Service and Support functions. Witkowski has extensive past management, executive, and leadership experiences. He exited his two-decade career in behavioral health as Clinical Director of one of Pennsylvania’s most diverse behavioral health organizations. He was also engaged in private practice (providing both clinical counseling and management consulting), was a graduate faculty member of Marywood University for 12 years, and is a frequent presenter on information technology and human capital topics at national conferences.

APRIL 2019


“Our retail agents are a key part of our DNA – they’ve been our distribution force” — Carl Witkowski, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Berkshire Hathaway GUARD

111

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B E R K S H I R E H AT H A W AY G U A R D I N S U R A N C E C O M PA N I E S

system, portals, claims system, or spend their time integrating multiple third-party systems” observes

1983

Year founded

Witkowski. “It distracts the business and slows it down. Because of this, we don’t replace any systems. Instead, we evolve our systems. Therefore, we don’t waste the resources and we don’t throw away that investment. However, we still must make the system very easy for an agent to use, as we don’t work directly with consumers.” 112

LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATION: A PERFECT MIX

500+

Approximate number of employees

HQ

Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania

Technology may be a fundamental cog in any business growth strategy but

sions quickly. We’re also flexible

when it comes to true success, it’s

enough to implement them on a very

ultimately down to the people. Aban-

quick timeline.” The insurer has taken

doning hierarchies in favor of a culture

this positive work culture one step

that “rewards individual performance

further using technology: by creating a

and celebrates team accomplishment”,

robust agency portal and leading call

Foguel points out how “everyone treats

center, the firm has strived to create a

this company as though they have

close-knit culture between the

ownership in it – there’s respect for

company and its agents.

one another”. “There are never more than three or

In all aspects, it seems agility is interwoven into the company’s DNA.

four degrees of separation in the

This not only applies to technology:

company,” he notes. “Our greatest

indeed, Berkshire Hathaway GUARD

success is our ability to make deci-

has worked diligently to offer bigger

APRIL 2019


113

and better product propositions to its

avoidance system and fleet manage-

customers. “GUARD itself is not a new

ment systems (FMS) technology for its

company but in the last decade we’ve

commercial auto lines, and a project

acted like a fast growing startup,”

with Plank Re to use AI to further

enthuses Foguel. “We’re growing every

automate the workers’ compensation

year by 20-25% which shows that this

underwriting process.

is not a steady state company in any

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD is

form. We’re always innovating and we

truly a strong role model for how to

always have four or five projects on the

profitably scale quickly and steadily.

go.” In fact, just last year the firm

Businesses should keep an eye on the

announced various partnerships with

firm to see what they’ll do next.

IoT companies and AI applications, including a pilot with Safe Drive Systems (SDS), to create a collision w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


114

Digital transformation and innovation at Plymouth Rock WRIT TEN BY

OLIVIA MINNOCK PRODUCED BY

ANDY TURNER

APRIL 2019


115

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P LY M O U T H R O C K A S S U R A N C E

Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer of Plymouth Rock Assurance’s Direct Response Channel, discusses how an agile, creative approach has allowed the insurer to adapt its offering to a changing market

116

T

oday, customer service is all about choice and innovation and the increasingly competitive insurance sector is no

exception. Consumers want to communicate in the most convenient way for them, and they expect personalized service as well as products tailored to their specific needs. Across an increasingly demanding landscape, auto and home insurance carrier Plymouth Rock Assurance has stepped up to this challenge and adapted its offering to survive – and thrive. Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer of Plymouth Rock Assurance’s Direct Response Channel, has closely watched the changing industry over his 12 years at the company. He has observed key consumer habit changes and notes an important shift: consumers increasingly want the ease of doing business through a distribution channel of their choice. This is the very reason the Direct Response Channel for Plymouth Rock was born. APRIL 2019


117

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P LY M O U T H R O C K A S S U R A N C E

“That’s the key to direct distribution: how do we make it easy for the consumer to buy the product, while still feeling well informed?” — Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer, Direct Response Channel, Plymouth Rock Assurance

“In New Jersey, property and casualty insurance market share has evolved from being independent and exclusive agent dominated to more direct dominated,” Lyons explains. For example, in 2003, New Jersey was 71% dominated by independent and exclusive agents. Today those same agents make up around 47% of the market. In comparison, the Direct market share in 2003 was 29% and now stands at 53%. Plymouth Rock has had to adapt to this transformation in the industry while continuing to invest in and support its independent and

118

Prudential exclusive agent networks. Traditionally, the insurer distributed its products solely through an agency model. In order to step up and compete with the evolution of direct writers, a key element of Plymouth Rock’s transformation was to build a direct capability that complemented and strengthened its agency distribution offering. “Within our geographic footprint, you’ll see that a lot of the big, national direct writers entered our markets and began gobbling up market share from the agency channels,” Lyons comments. “To combat that, we piloted building out a direct-to-consumer APRIL 2019


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘PLYMOUTH ROCK ASSURANCE 30 SECOND TV SPOT’ 119 response channel about 10 years ago

its agency channel, as opposed to

to see if we could make the economics

a competing business. “From the initial

of growing through direct distribution

launch of the Direct Response Channel

work. We also needed to help our

through today, our focus has been

agency channels compete in a digital

helping the Plymouth Rock Enterprise

marketplace.” While initially a pilot

compete in this evolving digital land-

venture, failure was not an option.

scape. We are continually on the hunt

Plymouth Rock needed to build an

for new marketing sources, partners,

economical and scalable direct

and technology to leverage for the

business to compete in the market-

benefit of our agents,” says Lyons.

place and to fuel growth. Over the past

Since being founded in 1982,

decade, it has transformed into

Plymouth Rock has expanded signifi-

a multi-channel distribution model.

cantly across the northeast US. Initially,

Plymouth Rock’s goal is for its Direct Response Channel to be a partner to

Plymouth Rock distributed its products in Massachusetts and eventually w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


P LY M O U T H R O C K A S S U R A N C E

120

moved into New Jersey in 1992. It also

have economies of scale in terms of

has been active with independent agents

their marketing and telesales acquisition

in Connecticut and New Hampshire for

dollars,” says Lyons. “In many cases,

more than 20 years. Currently, Plymouth

they have thousands of sales reps

Rock’s Direct Response Channel is

in their sales centers and very large

actively writing in New Jersey, Pennsylva-

national advertising budgets.

nia, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

To compete with that, we have to be

The company plans to enter New York

extremely targeted and selective about

in the latter part of 2019.

where and how we spend our marketing

As the market changes and develops,

dollars and how we sell our product.”

Plymouth Rock no longer just competes

In many ways, Plymouth Rock is

with local rivals. National and global

maintaining an entrepreneurial startup

companies also have become competi-

mentality as it grows. It is careful how

tors. “Our direct national competitors

it spends its money and the relationships

APRIL 2019


it forms, and it is adept at listening to

or tablet and buy the product online or

each colleague within the fast growing

over the telephone. However, they still

organization.

seek the comfort and confidence of

A significant advantage for Plymouth

knowing that there’s a licensed agent

Rock is its deep understanding of the

ensuring they make the right decisions.

market and how consumer needs and

That’s the key to direct distribution.

expectations continue to evolve. Lyons

How do we make it easy for the

is keenly aware of the shift to self-serve

consumer to buy the product, while still

in the market and what this means for

feeling well served and well informed?”

his organization. “Back in the old days

In order to provide the best possible

of insurance, it was routine for customers

experience for customers in a changing

to go to their local agent to buy insurance

landscape, Plymouth Rock has worked

products, face to face. Nowadays,

with innovative startups that might

many customers want to be able

otherwise be seen as disruptive

to transact right from their smartphone

competition. “We’ve worked with a lot

E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Tom Lyons Tom Lyons is the Chief Operations Officer of the Direct Response Channel for the Plymouth Rock Management Company of New Jersey. He is responsible for all aspects of Plymouth Rock Assurance’s auto direct‐to‐consumer marketing and sales efforts, marketing analytics activities, and inbound and outbound Sales Center operations. He also oversees all aspects of Teachers’ Insurance Plan of NJ. Tom joined Plymouth Rock in 2007 as a Marketing Representative in the Prudential Agency Management Division. The following year, he became the first Supervisor of Plymouth Rock’s Direct Sales Center, eventually being promoted to the Director position. In this capacity, he built out and oversaw the growth of the inbound, outbound and telemarketing sales operations. tlyons@plymouthrock.com

w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

121


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“What sets Plymouth Rock apart from our competitors is that we try to form really strategic partnerships with these companies: it’s not just one size fits all” — Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer, Direct Response Channel, Plymouth Rock Assurance

Lyons emphasizes. There’s a fine line to those arrangements, but several have worked out well for Plymouth Rock and its partners. “Transparency and collaboration is at the forefront of how we form these strategic partnerships to ensure win-win relationships,” says Lyons. As well as startups, Plymouth Rock maintains relationships with more established tech partners in order to leverage the latest technology for a truly superior customer experience. Working with Salesforce.com, a customer relationship management

of insurtech companies both from a

(CRM) system, gives the company a

technology and a distribution perspective,”

unified 360-degree view of both

says Lyons. “What sets Plymouth Rock

current and prospective customers.

apart from our competitors is that we

“We monitor the customer journey all

try to form tailored strategic partnerships

the way throughout their lifecycle with

with these companies. It’s not just one

us through every touch point,” Lyons

size fits all.” For example, the insurer

explains. “We understand if they like

has partnered with other alternative

to communicate with us via email, chat,

distribution partners, which it calls

text or phone, so we can tailor the

Super Agents, throughout the country.

customer experience specific to those

The company has integrated with these

individuals. In addition, partnerships

partners through LeadCloud, a leading

with IBM and Acxiom are instrumental

data integration partner. “Regional

for data management. We are pursuing

direct writers need to be scrappy

multichannel marketing, where we

and agile in how we form partnerships

execute a variety of different marketing

and how we integrate with them,”

channels to fit customers’ needs. w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

123


P LY M O U T H R O C K A S S U R A N C E

Some consumers would prefer we market to them through email and display advertising, whereas others prefer direct mail or social media advertising. It’s about tailoring our messaging and approach to fit the needs of the customer.” Another interesting area of partnership Plymouth Rock is beginning to explore is with financial institutions. “This is an area of expansion and growth,” says Lyons. “We’re finding that these financial institutions are able to round out their client base 124

by offering a Property and Casualty insurance product with us, and in doing so, improve their customer retention. The strategic partnerships we form are key to what Plymouth Rock does. Our partnerships are not about ‘you do this and we do that’ – they are creative and agile. Plymouth Rock is currently working with many financial institutions in this regard and is actively seeking out new partnerships to advance our respective businesses.” Internally, Plymouth Rock’s research and development team is always on the lookout for emerging technologies. Its agile, flexible approach allows new ventures and solutions to be piloted APRIL 2019

“Regional direct writers need to be scrappy and agile in how we form partnerships” — Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer, Direct Response Channel, Plymouth Rock Assurance


quickly before successful initiatives are rolled out across the organization. Every innovation implemented is measured in relation to its impact on customer experience, which is closely monitored. “We do customer surveys and focus groups to understand what customers like and don’t like about being insured with us, and we often make changes based on that. Keeping our finger on the pulse of consumers and being responsive to their needs helps keep us competitive and at the cutting edge of innovation,” Lyons says. Another key element to finding the best solutions for its business and customers is Plymouth Rock’s culture of collaboration. It is not only external, but permeates the internal organization as well. “We have a culture where everybody in the organization, regardless of rank, feels empowered to give recommendations or suggestions,” Lyons says. For example, the popular Get Home Safe® benefit that’s unique to Plymouth Rock allows the company’s customers access to a free taxi ride home as a safer alternative to driving when necessary. This innovative service was suggested to the CEO by an employee in the lunchroom many w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com

125


P LY M O U T H R O C K A S S U R A N C E

1982

Year founded

1,800+

Approximate number of employees

HQ

Woodbridge New Jersey 126

years ago. It has now been rolled out across the enterprise. “We have a culture of collaboration and transparency across our various business units,” Lyons says “These units empower an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative approach to all of our business initiatives. And there is always collaboration to ensure the best practices of the various groups across Plymouth Rock.” Through this entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to collaboration, the Plymouth Rock Direct Response APRIL 2019

“Plymouth Rock was founded on the principle of putting service first. That is still part of our DNA.” — Tom Lyons, Chief Operations Officer, Direct Response Channel, Plymouth Rock Assurance


127

Channel has grown significantly.

principle that a higher standard of

“We plan to grow our business quite

customer service would make us stand

rapidly over the next several years

out in an already-crowded industry.

and feel our multi-channel approach

Treating our customers with courtesy,

to distribution should fuel growth in

valuing their time, and understanding

these new states for both our direct

and empathizing with their issues has

and independent agent channels,”

been crucial to our success. That is

Lyons explains. Throughout this

still part of our DNA. We respect the

journey, he is confident the organiza-

brand equity that Plymouth Rock

tion will not lose the unique touch that

has built since day one and honor our

led to this success in the first place,

cultural values.”

with customer service being at the forefront of everything it does. “Plymouth Rock was founded on the w w w.f i nte c hma ga z i n e. com


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