Article | July 15, 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.
Core Insurance, Risk Management
Article | August 4, 2022
Americans consider boosting the economy a top policy priority over dealing with COVID-19 as the coronavirus outbreak enters its third year.
The decrease in the percentage mentioning the pandemic has been particularly sharp: from 78% last year to 60% this year, dealing with the coronavirus is now seen as a top policy priority. This comes at a time when Americans see various issues as lower priorities than they did a year ago.
Republicans and Democrats disagree on the significance of the majority of policy priorities, but for 11 of the 18 issues covered by the survey, the partisan divide has grown significantly. This includes double-digit increases in partisan differences on addressing issues like immigration, the political system, improving the job market, and the criminal justice system.
Changing Public Priorities: The Economy, Coronavirus, Jobs
The percentage of Americans, particularly Democrats, who see the economy as a significant policy issue has decreased, despite the fact that it still ranks first on the public's list of priorities. From 75% a year ago to 63% now, the percentage of Democrats and independents leaning toward the Democratic Party who believe that improving the economy should be a key priority has decreased.
Republicans and GOP learners, meanwhile, have seen almost no change in their opinions (85%top priority then, 82%today).
Democrats are also less inclined than they were in January of last year, before President Joe Biden's inauguration, to rank addressing the employment situation as their top priority. 71% of Democrats said jobs should be a primary priority a year ago; today, only around 50%of Democrats agree (49%). The Republicans' slide has been more subdued (from 63% to 55%).
As a matter of policy, solving the issues of the poor has lost priority. Democrats continue to prioritise this policy area significantly more than Republicans, although Republicans are now less likely than Democrats to see dealing with the issues low-income families confront as a key concern (25%now vs. 35%then; 58%now vs. 68%then).
Additionally, there has been a reduction in the public's opinion that strengthening the political system ought to be a major priority for policy, mostly due to Republican efforts. The proportions of voters in each party who said that reforming the political system should be a high priority were essentially the same as they were the previous year (64%of Democrats and 60%of Republicans). Now, only 40% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats believe that this should be a high priority.
Article | July 15, 2022
Automated claims processing, price comparison platforms, mobile bill paying—these are just some of the digital services that insurance customers expect and insurers want to provide. As the demand for digital skyrockets, so does the need for insurers to invest in IT. In the past seven years, the share of IT in total operating costs of property-and-casualty (P&C) insurers increased 22 percent. The rise of digital means technology is no longer a cost center. Rather, it is an asset that, if managed well, can increase growth and profitability.
But do these IT investments pay off? As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates already increasing cost pressures, insurers’ IT budgets are under scrutiny; they want to see the business impact of their IT investments.
Insurers with targeted IT investments achieve better growth and performance
Data from McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking survey provide strong evidence of the positive business impact of targeted IT investments. In fact, insurers that invest more in technology outpace competitors that don’t pursue targeted investments in business measures such as gross written premium (GWP) growth, return to shareholders, and expense and loss ratio (exhibit).
As an example, in life insurance, companies that invested more in IT saw a greater reduction in expense ratios (by 2.0 percentage points) and higher returns on technical reserves2 (1.7 percentage points) when compared with insurers with lower IT investments. Insurers achieved these outcomes within three to five years of making their investments.
For P&C insurers, those with high IT investments achieved approximately twice the top-line GWP growth of low IT investors. High IT investments also produced a greater reduction in combined ratios when compared with those with low IT investment.
Four areas for targeted IT investment
So what kinds of technology investments can help insurers achieve growth and improve productivity and performance? Investments in four areas are critical:
Marketing and sales: Marketing technology solutions can increase sales and processing efficiency, improve the quality of core customer-facing processes such as policy inquiries and policy applications, and improve customers’ overall experiences. McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking data show that tech investments in this category can facilitate top-line growth for P&C insurers by up to 20–40 percent; for life insurers, that growth could be 10–25 percent over a three- to five-year period.
Underwriting and pricing: Automated underwriting fraud detection can improve the likelihood that insurers correctly identify fraud and set accurate prices. A pricing tool kit that analyzes pricing across competitors and enables a flexible, more segmented market versus technical pricing further improves profit margins. Insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 10–15 percent in P&C insurance and 3–5 percent in life insurance.
Policy servicing: Workflow automation, artificial intelligence–based decision support, and user experience technologies in policy servicing and within IT can improve the customer self-service experience and automate back-office processes, thus reducing IT and operations expenses. And state-of-the-art self-servicing options will reduce processing times and even improve customer experience. An analysis of programs for large-scale insurance IT modernization finds that insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 5–10 percent in P&C insurance and 10–15 percent in life insurance.
Claims: P&C insurers can use automated case processing—machine-learning technology trained to process basic claims cases—to segment more complex cases and significantly improve claims accuracy. Combined with better partner integration and steering technologies embedded in a transformation of the claims operating model, such technologies can help P&C insurers improve profit margins by 25–40 percent, according to McKinsey analysis of large-scale IT modernization programs.
To realize the full value of IT investments, insurers must strategically allocate their resources and view tech as an asset, not a tool.
Core Insurance, Risk Management
Article | August 4, 2022
Insurtech is advancing, and the significance of an effective policy management system cannot be underrated. Policy management professionals understand the payoff it offers to an organization. On the other hand, a policy management system that just isn’t a good fit can prove to be a lot more expensive than previously budgeted.
So what is it actually costing you? Is your policy management software updated, or are you still using an old version? Do you know how much it is hampering your financial productivity? Even then, often, an outdated system may not be affecting your process significantly but damaging it in other intangible ways that are just as crucial to business success. Analyze your current system for the following:
Financial Implications of the Current System
Manual processes for policy creation and management make up the costliest part of running a policy management system. Paper-based solutions incur high costs that can be easily avoided by using digital systems that use automation extensively. With thousands of policies and compliance procedures for your team to manage, costs can add up quickly, especially with printing and distribution costs.
In addition to these expenses, manual processes are also responsible for policies being misplaced or lost. It may also result in a large fine for noncompliance if some policies are accessible to unauthorized employees.
Organized policy management procedures are critical for high operational efficiencies. Policy management systems that require manual supervision can prove to be expensive over the long run as they require employees to monitor them constantly. However, automated policy management systems enable policy teams to optimize their resources better and direct team members to speed up other more crucial processes.
Furthermore, modern policy management systems don’t need constant monitoring and require only a one time set-up. This enables teams to allocate resources where they are urgently needed.
If you have an outdated policy management system, chances are it takes a lot more micro-managing than it needs to. Businesses must be able to optimize their resources better but with old and outdated systems, it ends up cutting into the productivity and performance on an everyday basis.
In addition, it puts undue stress on employees to keep up with compliance norms and changing regulations and policies. Policy management often requires various employees to pitch in with their inputs, and using an old system that doesn’t offer the option to collaborate can take away a huge chunk of productivity daily.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Automated policy management systems can undoubtedly save you a lot of time and resources. If you’re facing sky-high costs just to maintain your policy management system, it might be time for a rethink. From automating the lifecycle of policies and procedures to streamlining the management of policies by your agents, consolidating a policy management process with software is one of the best insurtech trends to look out for in 2023. It is probably what your organization needs to move the needle.