'Don't be afraid to partner'

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Friday, November 24, 2017

In today's financial services industry, collaboration seems to be the key word.

As is widely accepted, consumers are evolving. They don't want to wait in line or sign documents. They want to conduct their financial affairs at any time and from any location.

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Players within the sector are recognizing the strategic benefits of partnering with other market participants to help sharpen their competitive edge in this changing world.

These players include suppliers.

Jason Sahota, CEO of insurance technology solutions firm Charles Taylor InsureTech, told BNamericas that the industry has changed.

"Don't be afraid to partner - not only with other suppliers but also with your clients," Sahota said.

He added: "The market has moved beyond the old model of clients trying to solve problems and the supplier being paid to do it. Successful implementation of solutions is all about effective collaboration.

"I'm also a firm believer that technology suppliers and consultancies have a role to play in terms of innovation and creativity to help solve these various challenges in the market."

Collaboration is also the key word when discussing the relationship between traditional insurers and new tech players entering the fray. Incumbents have the human capital, the infrastructure, the customers and the operating licences, while the new firms bring innovation, unique products and agility to the table.

Sahota said that tech companies, which tend to focus on a specific service or area, often need to partner with established insurers and that firms such as Charles Taylor Insuretech - part of London-based professional services group Charles Taylor - can facilitate and manage this union.

"Smaller and more agile companies coming into the marketplace is great news, but just having technology expertise isn't enough," Sahota said.

Latin America is a key market for Charles Taylor InsureTech, which maintains a regional base in Mexico City from where it provides support and consulting services. The company has recently introduced a cloud-based core insurance platform - the world's first - designed to help insurers launch targeted offerings for niche markets quickly.

BANKING

The banking industry appears to be further advanced in terms of collaboration. There are also many more fintechs than insurtechs.

Sandro Araya, director of digital channels and products at ​Scotiabank Chile, said at a conference this year: "The key is in not being afraid of fintechs."

Banks, he said, need to change their technological architecture to make it more flexible and to facilitate integration of new platforms.

Spanish banking giant BBVA has also taken strides forward in terms of opening up its platforms onto which new apps can be bolted.

"Consumers are beginning to demand the freedom to interact with their banks in the way they are most comfortable, not constrained by the traditional ways banks prefer to do business," Troy Fields of Florida-based global financial technology solutions provider FIS told BNamericas in an interview. "But, banks are often unable to keep up with the very latest technology or the most popular consumer app. By opening their platforms in a secure way, banks can focus on the business of banking, letting more agile players develop the new innovative apps that best meet individual consumer needs."

Improving the customer experience rather than just the product is a key goal of collaboration.

Fields said: "The challenge with this model for banks, of course, is that they risk losing touch with their customer. Successful banks have opened their platforms, but have included these external applications under their own brand of services, positioning themselves as the consumer's relationship manager, and offering one place for all their financial and related services. So, instead of going to the bank for a mortgage, the bank provides a house buying experience, providing links to the real estate agent, the appraiser, the inspector, the title company, etc., putting the bank at the center of the total experience, even though they may not own all the ancillary services."