Article | July 13, 2022
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have increasingly entered the mainstream of investment discussions, both through routine incorporation into traditional investment processes and through distinct sustainable or impact investing styles. Recent and current global conditions, such as extreme weather events, the inequitable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising distrust of government institutions, and geopolitical challenges to a rules-based world order, have accelerated this trend, emphasizing the direct relevance of ESG and sustainability to understanding long-term market risks and opportunities.
Until recently, equity investors were more concerned with ESG and sustainability than their fixed-income counterparts. That is, however, beginning to change, and at a rapid pace. ESG and sustainability have gained significant traction among bond investors, particularly since the implementation of COVID-19, and are now widely regarded as essential components of fixed income investing. For example, global sustainable debt issuance reached a new high of over US$1.6 trillion in 2021 and is expected to rise further in the coming years. Notably, we believe that ESG integration and sustainable fixed-income investing require a very deliberate, thoughtful approach — one that varies significantly from one fixed-income sector to the next.
ESG and sustainability:
At a high level, researchers believe that increased awareness of ESG and sustainability benefits global markets in two ways:
1. ESG integration allows market participants to think more holistically about the types of financially material risks and opportunities — such as physical, reputational, and (geo)political — that should ideally be reflected in asset valuations and taken into account during the routine portfolio construction and management process.
2. Furthermore, the conversation about sustainable investing is encouraging more market participants to look beyond narrow, issuer-specific investment thesis to consider how market participants' behaviors affect the broader systems and structures (e.g., climate stability, institutional strength) whose long-term viability is critical for the long-term health of economies and markets.
We, like many others, believe that a stable global climate, clean air and water for all, adherence to the rule of law, strong institutions with broad public legitimacy, and broad-based access to economic opportunity are valuable public goods from which market participants would benefit collectively over time. As a result, a central goal of sustainable investing is to assist markets in evolving toward rewarding participants for exercising responsible stewardship of these public goods, which are critical to pursuing favorable long-term outcomes for the real people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of markets. This framing of sustainability highlights why fixed income is so important in moving global markets and economies in a more sustainable direction.
Article | July 19, 2022
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are learning to live with it and mitigate its risks. While older adults have suffered disproportionately from the health impacts of COVID, they have also suffered from the effects of efforts to control its spread.
Infection rates rose in recent months, and many long-term care facilities again closed their doors to visitors. This left many families separated from elderly and disabled loved ones during the holiday period.
Core Insurance, Risk Management
Article | August 4, 2022
The blockchain has penetrated the mainstream. We predicted this in our 2019 article “Blockchain-as-a-Service: the Accelerator for Blockchain Adoption” where we talked about the technology's ease of integration. Companies can seamlessly adopt blockchain technologies by referring to existing use cases like smart contracts, data authentication, and asset management. They can also take advantage of open-source materials.
With the blockchain's accessibility on top of its formidable qualities, it’s no surprise that the digital ledger system is being integrated into every industry–from banking and healthcare to gaming and cybersecurity. As a cornerstone of the rise of financial technology or fintech, another industry it’s now serving is auto insurance. Here’s how the blockchain is revolutionizing the auto insurance industry:
Benefits of the blockchain in auto insurance
Multiple back-and-forths can slow down the manual processing of both insurance contracts and filed claims. Blockchain-based tools can speed this up by accessing necessary information through the data network. Insurers can easily access and verify the personally-identifiable information (PII) required for insurance contracts via the blockchain, as well. This means no lengthy coordination with other parties, shorter queuing time, and less paperwork.
Moreover, the blockchain helps those who buy auto insurance worry less about their PII being used by malicious individuals and organizations. Monash University asserts blockchain security effectiveness by pointing out how its design can alert any network of even the most minor changes to the data it contains. This is because blocks containing data are marked with hashes–input strings of computation characters–that become invalid when information is modified. When hashes become invalid, the network is notified. With such a prompt and responsive alert system, insurance agencies can easily detect hacking activities to protect sensitive data.
Blockchain applications in auto insurance
The most significant benefit of the blockchain’s application in auto insurance arguably lies in optimizing property and casualty (P&C) insurance verification processes. Sound Dollar defines property and casualty insurance as coverage for any damage the possessions stipulated in your contract incurs. Blockchain-based tools, like smart contracts, can immediately gather relevant information from an insurer's network to verify damaged possessions. It can also identify which ones are covered by your insurance contract. This streamlined verification process saves insurers billions of dollars in operational costs and makes filing a claim much easier for the client.
The blockchain can also be used to minimize and prevent fraud. Some of the best blockchain-based tools can identify whether an individual claims payouts from multiple insurers. These tools cross-check PII and non-PII with salient information from claims filed elsewhere to check for similarities. Moreover, the Insurance Innovation Reporter found that advancements in anti-fraud blockchain technology can detect third-party helpers, such as garages and brokers. This enables insurers to expand their data on fraudulent networks and prevent future cases of fraud.
Challenges to full implementation of the blockchain in auto insurance
Before full-on integration, developers and businesses have to address data integrity. While blockchain data cannot be edited, it does not ascertain that encoded information is true. This means data has to be verified before it's encoded on the blockchain. Blockchain-based technology is also expected to become more expensive in the coming years. As it becomes mainstream, demand for the technology and relevant development research will further drive operation and maintenance costs upwards.
There is still much work to be done if the auto insurance industry wishes to fully integrate the blockchain into its workflows. But with the long-term benefits it brings, insurers and clients alike will undoubtedly look to blockchain-based technology for improved services and a better overall experience.
Article | July 7, 2022
Despite ongoing concerns about COVID-19 variants, most insurers anticipate a faster economic recovery and increased investments in digital technology in 2022. One-third of those polled expect revenues to be "significantly higher" next year. The global demand for insurance is expected to rise further.
Insurers face a variety of challenges, including economic hurdles such as the possibility of sustained inflation; sustainability concerns such as climate risk, diversity, and financial inclusion; and rapidly changing consumer product and purchase preferences.
Attracting (and Retaining) Talent Will Be Critical in a Hybrid Work Environment
Future of work considerations have also grown in importance as carriers strive to develop flexible return-to-office strategies while also struggling to retain and recruit high-level talent in a highly competitive job market, particularly for those with advanced technology and data analytics skills.
Insurers Must Find a Way to Balance Technological Adoption with the Preservation of the Human Touch
Insurers are becoming more reliant on emerging technologies and data sources to increase efficiency, improve cybersecurity, and expand capabilities across the organization. Most, however, should focus on improving the customer experience by streamlining processes with automation and providing customized service where needed and preferred.
Opportunities to Increase Stakeholder Trust Have Arisen as a Result of the Pandemic
On a more fundamental level, many carriers should consider taking steps to increase stakeholder trust in order to increase retention and profitability. This could be accomplished in part by increasing transparency in how insurers collect and use personal data. They can also become more proactive in seeking comprehensive solutions to large-scale societal issues, such as reducing the financial impact of future pandemics and closing coverage gaps for natural disasters.