This article was originally published on Paperjam. Read the article here.

75% of geographic Europe-based wealth professionals say they expect a “high” to a “very high” level of digitization over the next three years in the Unit-Linked life insurance sector, with customer service technology, cybersecurity and mobile technologies identified as key tech-enabled imperatives.

This is one of the many findings from our recent European analysis of the Wealth Assurance industry, including insights from almost 700 wealth professionals based across 12 European countries. The report also shows that digital capabilities are high on the list when it comes to those key criteria which wealth professionals use when seeking to identify a suitable Wealth Assurance provider.

Although digital appears to be a clear and obvious solution, the real question is how the wealth assurance industry should use it to stay future-fit and continue to grow sustainably. Recently, teleworking tools have enabled us to ensure business continuity, illustrating the benefits offered by digitization. And indeed, digitization is an accelerator for Luxembourg and European wealth assurance companies. But we are not start-ups. In order to be efficient, digital transformation needs to be integrated into existing operational models and architectures and adapted to a client-centric mindset.

Our Wealth Assurance Report highlights the fundamental role that technology has in enabling and ensuring better service, higher security, and a more mobile experience. Undeniably, digitization offers a better experience for all stakeholders by saving time, increasing efficiency and providing instant, secure and complete access to information and pending requests, 24/7. When wealth professionals were asked about additional services that Unit-Linked life insurance providers should offer, almost one in five (22%) identified “digital client onboarding/e-applications” as their preferred option, while “needs-based innovative solutions” came in second (18%). Digitization once again comes to the fore in their third priority, with a requirement for “digital solutions to reduce acquisition costs and increase broker productivity” (16%).

These findings clearly evidence that intermediary partners expect innovative collaboration tools to strengthen the advice and service they can provide. For example, being able to monitor the policy onboarding process and access consolidated reports reinforces their role as a distributor, in line with their regulatory constraints. A Luxembourg life insurance policy is also an investment platform, requiring a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of exposure to financial markets. Access to live information, as well as transaction tools via a digitally enabled servicing platform, enable them to strengthen their role as an asset allocator within a Unit-Linked life insurance policy.

For life insurance providers, digital onboarding offers significant improvements in operational efficiency, greater flexibility, as well as better management of flows and volumes. In France, in 2020, 64% of new policies were onboarded via our platform Connect, following a fully digital process. Electronic signature and transfer of secure information directly into insurance policy administration systems reduce risk and further improve service quality. Same with the automated analysis of risk profiles or the instant verification of information in anti-money laundering controls. Ultimately, digitization makes it possible to do more, better and faster, giving the various stakeholders more time and capacity to focus on managing needs and business relations. 

But there is still a long way to go in the sector’s digital journey. Our recent research shows that when it comes to the quality of the current digital offerings from existing Wealth Assurance providers, wealth management professionals are far from impressed. The overall satisfaction of the services available at the moment scored a modest average of 2.89 out of a 5-level rating (5 being “very satisfied”). Interestingly, the same respondents affirm that “quality of service” is by far the most important criterion when it comes to choosing a preferred provider, with “good relationships and communications”, followed by “technical expertise and knowledge” second and third respectively. These findings clearly show that, whilst hunger for digitization remains, this is certainly not the silver bullet that will future-proof our industry.

A Luxembourg life insurance policy remains a bespoke solution and digitization is an effective means for us to offer highly advanced personalisation of our solutions. As our partners’ and clients’ needs shift towards more tailor-made solutions, in an increasingly complex environment, advice is at the heart of our value proposition, including wealth structuring, estate planning, cross-border expertise, legal knowledge, market-specific compliance, etc. This is why digital is more a means to an end rather than the end itself and that only the combination of a digital experience and human expertise will enable our sector to remain relevant in the world of tomorrow.