2020 Industry Outlook – Marriage of Tech and ‘Human Touch’


Finding the right balance between the human touch and digital efficiency is one of the key messages stemming from a newly-released analysis of life insurance industry trends in the Asia-Pacific region.

Global consulting powerhouse, EY Advisory, advocates in its 2020 Asia-Pacific Insurance Outlook Report that ‘…digitising the sales force’ can create growth opportunities for life companies.

In qualifying what it refers to as ‘digitising the sales force’, the consulting firm’s message is that the Asia Pacific life insurance sector needs to deliver to the consumer the optimal combination of human advice and digital experience solutions. Referring specifically to the Australian life insurance market, the report notes Australian advisers are now tending to embrace the efficiencies and opportunities that can be delivered by incorporating more digital services into their advice proposition:

…Until recently, agents viewed digital channels as major threats to their profession

“But things are changing quickly, especially in mature markets such as Australia. There has been a shift in how digital is viewed by the sales force. Until recently, agents viewed digital channels as major threats to their profession. Now, they realize digitization increases efficiency and helps with recruitment by making the industry look more innovative.

While advocating for the optimisation of human advice and digital service and process solutions is one of the key messages in the 2020 Report, other key messages for the Asia Pacific life insurance sector include:

  1. Manage the persistent regulatory focus:
    • A coordinated and cost-effective approach is required
  2. Win the war for talent and skills:
    • The right talent is critical for successful transformation
  3. Achieve cost efficiency:
    • Cost optimisation strategies must account for investments in the future
  4. Digitise the sales force:
    • More effective distribution can create growth opportunities and address regulatory challenges
  5. Drive growth through direct-to-consumer:
    • Direct channels and ecosystems drive the shift from selling policies to engaging customers

While the EY report generally delivers an up-beat assessment around the opportunities in 2020 and beyond for those insurers who find the right balance in their service and process endeavours, the report’s trend analysis delivers a sobering perspective around life insurance take-up rates within the Australian market, which the report implies is a mature market that has struggled as its population ages and as its consumer expectations shift:

Comparison of Australian life insurance penetration rates (left column) compared with three key Asia Pacific nations (source: EY 2020 Asia-Pacific Insurance Outlook December 2019)

Advisers can click here to access EY’s 2020 Asia-Pacific Insurance Outlook Report.


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