Changing culture in the insurance industry: Challenges and rewards

Technology is only one part of the digital transformation package currently facing insurers, and probably the easier bit. To accelerate your business by embracing digital, leaders need to drive a shift in corporate culture that aligns behaviours, organisational structures and processes with technology – and understand the impact this will have on their customers.

For change to be successful, the organisation must have a clear vision, supported by values and underpinned by the behaviours that will put these values into action. This must be driven by the leadership team.

What is culture?

What is culture? Culture, as defined by Ned Morse, co-author of “Switch Points: Culture Change on the Fast Track to Business Success” is “patterns of behaviour that are encouraged or discouraged by people and systems over time.” Critically, it is also about behaviour that is tolerated by leaders, people and systems over time.

Your vision should resonate with customers and stakeholders, and should motivate, empower and inspire staff. This will ultimately determine the supporting culture.

All cultural change should support your vision and that, ultimately, is about improving the experience of your customers and stakeholders to support your business. So, ask yourself the question, “how would any cultural change you aspire to achieve be felt by your customers in their interactions with your company and your people?”

How does this relate to the insurance market?

For the insurance industry, change also means embracing the digital revolution. It is no secret that the industry lags behind other financial services when it comes to embracing digitisation. This is changing; modernisation initiatives currently underway within the insurance industry mean we can expect huge reforms over the next few years. The most notable of these initiatives is the Target Operating Model (TOM) led by the London Market Group. The objective is to make it easier to do business in the London Market through two key milestones: one-touch data entry in a global, digital format and to centralise administration.

Research from the Xchanging London Market Conference digital survey in 2016 shows that 45 percent of respondents thought their company was only partially equipped with the right management capability and skill set to implement a transformation initiative. Furthermore, just under 40 percent felt that a lack of modernisation was a factor making the London Market less competitive compared to other insurance hubs, second only to cost.

Embedding digital processes as part of your company culture will augment your ways of working, ensuring increased efficiency in completing transactions, liberating employees to do more face-to-face meetings, and building those relationships that make the London Market such a good place to do business. Changing the culture internally will reduce the mundane, time-consuming things staff do and eliminate manual processing. It will also mean a greater ability to focus more on what your clients want – to be flexible and creative – and to have the opportunity to be more innovative in offering bespoke solutions.

A company’s culture supports its business strategy and must be understood at all levels of the organisation.  Any cultural transformation should be business-led and completely aligned to what you aspire to as a company. It’s important to know what the tangible outcomes will be from embedding a new culture. How will you know when this is being achieved? What are the measures and KPIs that support this?

Cultural change starts with the leadership team. It is this group that must demonstrate the required behaviours that show things around here are changing. Embedding change is about selecting flagship projects or functions where we think people are open to change. Key to this is working with the relevant teams to develop a comprehensive plan that looks at what a change in behaviour actually means to the way they perform their daily activities. Listening very carefully to people from all levels of the organisation about what works and what might be more difficult to change and why is fundamental to the success of cultural change.

Cultural change is achieved by repetition and demonstration of new patterns of behaviour and new ways of working until it becomes an intrinsic part of the organisation.


Penny Bannister has over 20 years of global consulting and senior executive experience, across three continents: Europe, United States and Australia. She has worked in Executive line management positions and Consulting Practice Leader positions for Blue Chip Management Consultancy firms, including one of the largest Global outsourcing providers. This has been across a broad range of industries from the Financial Sector to the Public Sector. Penny joined CSC (now DXC) in London in 2015 and is currently a Practice Partner in the insurance practice focused on Digital Culture Transformation – the impact of digital technology on organization models, culture – mindsets and behavior, leadership and customers.



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