Wishes for 2009 From a European Insurance CIO

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5 January 2009
Nicolas Michellod
Celent has the chance to be continuously in the heart of insurers' preoccupations. Knowing how difficult it is to make optimal decisions in order to thrive--especially in today's environment--keeps us informed about the hurdles to overcome. Today we are proud to share with you the wishes of a European insurance CIO, Guy Malherbe from Les Retraites Populaires. Thank you Guy for your contribution.
In 2008, life insurers were deeply impacted by the financial crisis, especially within their wealth management divisions. Nevertheless, some insurers were very successful in generating new premiums thanks to their financial stability and low exposure to risks (e.g., sub-prime, hedge funds, etc.). That was one of the paradoxes of this crisis. Collateral effects for these "lucky losers" have been moderate, even for the IT divisions. But Operational Expense and Capital Expense IT budgets for 2009 have been reduced due to the bad economic climate, which I believe will last at least one more year. So, technology executives in insurance will have to face the dilemma of "doing more with less." As I am one of these, my goals for 2009 are:
  • Ensuring business continuity. IT services are part of the core business of life insurance. They have to be reliable and powerful to support day to day business, even in the worst cases like this economical crisis.
  • Focusing on short-term customer needs but maintaining a long-term perspective. Customers are anxious about their investments and need to be reassured. They are looking for stability and low-risk financial products. Life insurance could be the right answer if we invest in building trust-based and lasting relationships with our customers that help to restore confidence in financial products.
  • Keeping faith in the future and welcoming the “Internet generation” by implementing innovative life e-insurance services and advice. The Internet generation is getting older and will soon be interested in life insurance products. Insurers must be prepared to fulfil their needs by offering new ways of managing "virtual" relationships with this promising segment of "e-customers."
I am sure that 2009 will be a challenging year for life insurance CIOs, but it will also bring with it a lot of great business opportunities.

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