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It’s time to free the underwriters!

Wealth Management: Industry Trends, New Priorities, and Major Shifts

Insurance is slowly coming to terms with technology and that’s good news for underwriters seeking to do less administration and more underwriting. Salesforce is here to help.

Not so long ago, a rather weary underwriter from a leading multinational insurer told me that he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the admin that he had to do each day. “It’s taking up half of my time!” he said. “I didn’t become an underwriter to do admin. I became one to assess risks and determine if they’re insurable,” he explained. I felt his pain, and I was able to reassure him: change is coming. In fact, in many insurance firms, it’s already accelerating.

The insurance business as a whole has, historically, been focused on the expertise of its practitioners. Their experience, insights, skills, and focus on achieving the right balance between risks and financial success is what firms need to thrive. That’s always been true. The success of a firm was based on human skills; technologies were an afterthought; systems were a secondary consideration.

That focus on human expertise – necessary as it was (and continues to be) – meant that many traditional players in the sector could not see much advantage in investing in digital technologies. Making the case for tech was hard to do. That could be blamed on a certain amount of complacency within the industry. Long-term profitability, for many years, seemed assured. You just had to keep on doing what you were doing and, yes, a few class-specific, tactical solutions could help, but nothing too drastic.

The result, as that underwriter’s frustration confirms, was that insurance professionals spent far too much time on admin and far too little on doing what they were trained to do: underwrite and develop the business. The insurance sector changed around those firms as technology enabled a new breed of competitors which, in turn, attracted existing and new talent to go and work for them.

Technology that frees people to do their best work

In my experience, the facts tell the story. The right tools enable talent to thrive. They actually give underwriters the ability to trade, determine risk and set the right prices, which is ultimately what they really want to do. Better systems and applications, underpinned by existing and emerging technologies (such as generative AI) can free underwriters – as well as the entire business – from the mundane, routine tasks which hinder agility and affect competitiveness. Though, of course, underwriters are, by nature, cautious. They need to be. So that inherent caution has led to some initial resistance to the adoption of innovative technologies. That’s changing because the new breed of tech has been engineered to be easy to use and intuitive. It’s being designed with the ultimate user in mind. That’s good news for underwriters!

That means that the right tech achieves beneficial outcomes faster, i.e., higher productivity and lowers costs. It can also be used to improve controls and, most importantly, serve clients and brokers with greater alacrity. And it doesn’t matter which branch of insurance you’re in, from medical to travel, to motor, to commercial property and speciality the principles are the same and the benefits are too.

At Salesforce, we’ve been working with a wide range of insurers for years. I’ve found that underwriting workbenches deliver tangible benefits in terms of improved workflows and higher productivity. That also includes better (clearer, more precise) analytics as well as enhanced collaboration and decision-making. It also, importantly, reduces what most underwriters dread, the duplication of tasks. Tech can also drastically reduce repetitive (often mundane) actions which a machine can do better and more accurately than any human. Again, freeing up underwriters to do what they’re best at.

Workbench enhances all kinds of work

Just a few months ago Salesforce was cited as a Leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide P&C Intelligent Underwriting Workbench Applications 2023 Vendor Assessment. We beat niche industry providers who are, by definition, specialists in Workbench because we’ve integrated the tool seamlessly into our offerings. Insurance is, of course, an intensely data driven business. That means there’s a lot of data and myriad of records, all of which have to be aligned, linked, stored, retrieved, and analysed. And always at speed.

Using Workbench in Salesforce gives you enhanced control and efficiency in data and metadata management. All in ONE central location. It also improves the overall experience of Salesforce and delivers enhanced outcomes. But when I talk to insurers, they’re still unsure about the broader benefits of working with us. That’s something I’m working on changing, and this blog is part of that effort.

Combined with our CRM offerings, Workbench helps run separate solutions to integrate quality data and overcome any issues that clients might have with their experience of your services. Because Salesforce is ONE platform, you can achieve integration that, ultimately, satisfies underwriters and delivers a joined-up client experience.

A broad range of capabilities

When I explained all that to my underwriter friend, he was excited. The point is that Salesforce is able to deliver the benefits of our Insurance Underwriting Workbench quickly and cost-effectively so that underwriters can feel the effects faster. That increases the surfacing of portfolio management data together with underwriting information.

Of course, the sector is already using workbenches. Many of the large multinationals have invested in them and are continuing to do so as they develop in terms of power and capabilities. They’re using them to measure and drive underwriting productivity across a range of classes and geographies.

And Salesforce is right there in the middle of that change. One reason IDC classed us leader in the field. Our Insurance Underwriting Workbench is powered by our Financial Services Cloud (used across the sector by banks, wealth and asset management companies, as well as insurers), and it’s geared to offer insurance specific applications from other Customer 360 capabilities. It’s such a comprehensive offering that, when you look at each of the axes on the tech industry’s best known vendor assessment tool, MarketScape, you’ll find the name of Salesforce in all the best places!

How to approach your Workbench journey

Making the most of our Insurance Underwriting Workbench depends on a clear understanding of your specific needs and objectives. For instance, do you want to use it as a prospect to bind tool or a submission to quote tool? Are you looking to use it for decision support or workplace enhancement? Or both? And, simply, its ability to cut duplication and automate tasks so that underwriters can focus on what really matters, is key to the deal.

Once you’re clear on what you want to use it for, then you need to prepare your data model and the underlying architecture. And don’t forget to involve your underwriters from the start. I think it’s vital that they’re included in the design phase. That will help buy-in and, as in the case of my underwriter friend, engender a certain amount of passion and excitement about the potential of the technology. And, of course, make sure that you can deliver what you promise.

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