The Swiss branch of AIG Europe specializes in insurances for businesses and specific groups of professionals. Although being a multinational corporation AIG has decided to partner up with SFS to support the Swiss fintech and startup environment. Today we want to talk to Oliver Delvos to learn more about their intentions, mission and vision.
AIG is not only a corporation it is a major and multinational corporation. Why have you decided to commit for the Swiss fintech and startup environment?
Switzerland is one of the most sophisticated financial markets worldwide. Some of the largest and most influential banks and insurance companies have been founded here. At the same time, Switzerland – and Zurich in particular – has managed to create an environment that encourages and supports new thinking, embraces technology while attracting attention from all established, global players. Some of the well-known, local Financial Institutions are already our customers and we already engaged with them in the area of Cyber-Security, for example. Therefore, being engaged in Fintech is a logical consequence and a good fit in our global strategy. Furthermore, the Swiss FinTech scene is very well organized, because of the mentioned local companies that support this development as well as SFS which brings all players together. When you see Germany in comparison, the startups scene in Fintech is much more split between various cities, making it more difficult to engage in a focused way.
Are startups mainly potential customers for AIG or can they be potential business partners? And how?
Both. For us, Fintech startups will be new customers with a new risk profile. However, Fintech does already influence how established banks, insurers and asset managers will do business today. Therefore, we as AIG must ensure that we understand the changing and developing needs in the future. For example, traditionally Crime and BBB insurance coverages have had risk such as cheque fraud and stealing from the cash tellers in mind when they were developed. Is this still the main risk for banks or is a sophisticated computer crime and cyber policy more relevant?
Coming back to the first argument, we think that FinTechs will create a completely new customer segment for us, once they have left the early stages of their business. Especially in the area such as crowdfunding and asset management (“roboadvisory”), we think that new products need to be developed to fit the risk profile of those new business models since many of the traditional products won’t fit.
Is insurtech a topic for AIG? Where is the insurance market heading?
Insurance companies are complex. There are many ways in which technology can help, such as the placing of risks in the market itself, the actual analysis of individual risks in underwriting stage, or the effective management of claims. Within operations, there is still a huge need to simplify policy administration and the management of global insurance programs.
Within the various segments, InsureTech will play a different role though. For AIG, InsureTech is an important topic. In the USA, for example, our “Global Innovation Team” is sponsoring and supporting various accelerators across the country. We constantly liaise with start-ups from California on the west coast to New York on the east coast. The same applies to Universities were we work with the leading institutions in the USA. Once we identify a promising company, we can offer trial runs for start-ups to see whether their concept would fit in real life, allowing them to develop their first proof of concept.
it-finanzmagazin has recently cited a study stating that about 85% of insurtech companies so far are targeting consumers. Why are there so few B2B insurtechs, is there no demand for innovative technology on the insurers’ end?
Indeed, this is surprising. As mentioned above, commercial insurance, especially international placements are very complex and have many moving parts. Unlike in the consumer market, it is difficult to achieve scale by standardizing product, distribution and internal processes. However, we start seeing some impact in the SME space.
Larger commercial insurance and reinsurance contracts still have a high level of bespoke language and contract endorsements. Still, technology could – and should –play a more important role in the placement of risks, its analysis, and the management of complex coverage structures and the maintenance of contracts. Ideas could be the digitalization of the quoting process; the digitalization of risk reviews on cloud-based shared service platforms, the sharing of underwriting and claims management in global, virtual teams to manage workloads better. Those ideas can then also be extended to reinsurance. Surprisingly, many process flows are the same across the globe but every country and every market still stick to their traditional ways in doing business.
AIG is active in so many markets. What makes the Swiss market special, and what chances and risks do you see?
Swiss companies thoroughly insure their risks so there is little chance to grow these days. AIG has been writing insurance in Switzerland for many years so we have a strong client base. Like all financial institutions, we need to develop, be creative and innovate to stay ahead of the curve. Within the Swiss market, one can stay very close to brokers and customers to see how their insurance needs develop. Despite fierce competition it is a very personal and collaborative market. For example two weeks ago, we hosted the latest Swiss Cyber Think Tank event together with PartnerRe. All insurers from the local market attended and we had interesting conversations as to how Cyber risks affect Swiss companies and how the insurance market can and should respond to these.
6) The fintech and startup scene here in Switzerland is clearly different from Berlin or London. Where do you think lie the greatest chances for Switzerland to become a global fintech hub?
Like London, Switzerland has an outstanding network of young finance professionals. It is also one of the most important and sophisticated insurance markets in the world. There is a strong mix of established insurers, an already existing FinTech scene and access to world class universities. This could make InsureTech especially a true success story in the future. As mentioned above, the B2B sector in InsureTech has not seen as lot of focus. With Brexit on the horizon, Switzerland does have a unique chance not only to win business from the UK but also to bring it straight away into the digital sphere.
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