EP 119 – Russell Higginbotham – CEO Reinsurance Asia at Swiss Re – Ultimately, We Should Be Driven By How Our Customers Want To Do Business

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Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Russell Higginbotham was appointed CEO Reinsurance Asia and Regional President Asia on 8 July 2019. Before being named to his current role, Russell was CEO Reinsurance and Regional EMEA, where he successfully spearheaded its regional transformation and client delivery model after his appointment in 2018. He became a member of the Group Executive Committee in September 2018. Now based out of Singapore, Russell oversees more than 2,000 staff in 11 Asian cities. He is a lifelong Manchester City fan and enjoys listening to Led Zeppelin. A UK citizen, Russell is married with two daughters.

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The Asia InsurTech Podcast spoke with Russell Higginbotham, the CEO of Reinsurance Asia at Swiss Re about changing consumer behavior, the latest consumer trends and the new role of insurance. 

Here is the transcript of our conversation: 

Michael Waitze  

Okay, we’re on. Hi, this is Michael Waitze, and welcome back to the Asia InsurTech Podcast. This is the only podcast in Asia focused on insurance that gives entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and we’ve got a pretty amazing one today, and investors a platform to discuss how technology is reshaping the insurance industry in Asia. Today, I’m joined by Russell Higginbotham, CEO reinsurance Asia at Swiss Re. Russell, it’s great to have you on the show. How are you doing?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, Thanks for the invitation. I’m doing okay. Thank you very much. 

Michael Waitze  

Awesome. Where are you based? Because based on the background that I see, I can’t really tell.

Russell Higginbotham  

I’m based in Singapore. So I guess in the second half of 2019, I was based across Asia, because I was traveling everywhere, every week all the time. And from the beginning of 2020 til  now I’m definitely based in Singapore, because there has been no travel at all.

Michael Waitze  

So really interesting that you say this. I was sent to Tokyo from New York in February of 1990. And during the time that I lived in Tokyo and also travelled throughout Asia, this is the longest basically, in my whole life that I have not been on an airplane. It’s been almost a year and a half. And it’s weird, right?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, no, it is. I did actually manage a quick trip to Zurich last summer for a board meeting. And that was weird in itself. Because, you know, you get out of the habit. You know, my old habit was unpacking on a Friday night. And then repacking on a Sunday or a Monday, and actually, trying to remember where my kind of business case was, was a challenge. And then, you know, packing was a weird feeling, flying was a weird feeling. And I, you know, I guess going forward that it’s never going to, well, it’s going to take a long time to return to the previous world where we would have, you know, treated a flight like jumping on a bus. I’ve got a couple of flights planned, you know, over the summer, as things start to ease up. But the kind of inconvenience factor of flying now makes you think, you know, long and hard about, “Do I really need to go?” The pre-testing, the testing on arrival, the testing before you come back, the testing on arrival, you know, it’s A it’s expensive. And B it’s inconvenient. And I guess, C, it’s unpleasant as well. So, you know, it does make you think about having those short trips that you might have done in the past, if you want to fly somewhere there has to be a good reason to do so these days.

Michael Waitze  

Absolutely. Look, before we jump into the main topic, what do you think is the biggest trend from your perspective in InsurTech in Asia right now?

Russell Higginbotham  

In InsurTech, well, yeah, maybe it’s a bit of an obvious reply but I think the big sort of macro trend is the acceleration of you know, “digital” across the board. You know, there’s, I guess, you know, a year and a half ago, some might have considered it as either optional, or, you know, something that it was a longer term trend or transformation project. But I think, you know, now it’s in the, I can’t say the post COVID period, but you know, as we come through the COVID period, I think that’s really highlighted weaknesses in certain models, or you might say, opportunities and other models. So, you know, the pure digital player has has done very well for you know, if you look at market valuations in this in this period, and, you know, those who are the other end of the spectrum that the, you know, the more pure face-to-face setups, they’ve faced some some challenges which they need to overcome, quite, quite quickly. 

Michael Waitze  

Yeah we have heard a lot just based on the conversations that we’ve had in the last sort of six to nine months that plans for digital transformation have accelerated from five years to like, nine months, things are moving much faster. 

Russell Higginbotham  

And you know, I don’t think this discussion is really pure digital, versus, I don’t know, what you call the other end of the spectrum, let’s call it pure analog, if you want to have a different way. I see that, you know, digital enablement is an enabler, it’s a compliment to business models, and, you know, ultimately, we should be driven by how our customers want to do business, right? So I actually think of, you know, a hybrid approach being, you know, the way forward. I think, you know, a pure face to face model, you know, that’s, that’s extremely difficult these days, you know, COVID, but also time and cost and, you know, distance as well going back to the topic on flights, but you know, equally, you know, a purely digital model has its challenges as well. Customers, generally, you know, if they’re buying something for you know, long term purchase, they want some level of human relationship, they want some level of advice. And you know that’s an age-old adage of “insurance is sold and not bought. Yep, that’s a challenge in a purely digital environment, you know, the cost of driving traffic to your site is not insignificant. So to me, you know, that sort of in that somewhere in that middle ground, you can find a complementary combination of both. And, you know, I guess what customers want is the ability to be flexible. So if they want human interaction or advice, they can get it, if they want to transact something, or change something on there, you know, their policies or their portfolio, they can do that, either in an automated way, they can do it themselves, or they can ask someone to help. And to be able to choose. Today, I want this, tomorrow I want that, and you know, the environmental condition says, I can’t do it that way at the moment. So how do I do it? So I think that, to me, that’s probably where we want to get to?

Michael Waitze  

Yeah, look, I think fundamentally, humans have visceral connections with other humans, not with machines. And we learned this, and also want to interact with humans on a regular basis. we’d learned this 15 or so years ago in the sales trading business, you know, at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and at UBS and that was, we could automate trading through algorithms and direct market access. But at the end of the day, the clients wanted to talk to a human and say, What am I supposed to do? The markets are moving. Things are changing. I need some advice. And the algos are not going to give them advice, right? Okay, I want to talk a little bit about changing consumer behavior as well in you know, in light of the elephant in the room, which is COVID-19 pandemic, and what do you think the implications are or were, excuse me for the life and health businesses from your perspective?

Russell Higginbotham  

Well, we did, you know, in terms of consumer behavior, we did a survey about a year ago, across a number of the Asian markets, and we’ve just repeated that. So the results will be published, you know, I guess, around the time this podcast is published, so I’m happy to talk about it. You know, I think what we, what we see, I mean, there are there are country by country differences, but, you know, generally, people still have price as their number one driver of purchase, okay, which is maybe not surprising, if I remember correctly, of 80% of people have price as number one, but I think what’s, you know, what’s changed a little bit, and this is in our survey a year ago and confirmed now as, as people look much more carefully at coverage, as well. So, you know, historically, if you went onto a, like an aggregator site, and you’re buying your life insurance, or you’re renewing your motor policy, you put in your details, or your if it’s a good site if it remembers the details from the last time. It says here are your, here are your top, cheap deals, and, you know, depending on the individual, some people just go for the cheapest, some people go for the cheapest brand, they recognize, others might dive into it. But I think the what we see from our survey now is that people want to know quite a lot more about the coverage, what are the maximum benefits for certain conditions, if it’s a medical insurance policy, are certain things excluded, because, you know, people will have had some experience over the last year where maybe that policy didn’t respond in the way they might have expected it to. And, you know, you see that some policies are cheap, because at the end of the day, it’s a risk based policy. So one of the key things driving a lower premium is lower benefits or more restricted coverage. So people definitely are thinking about that, which I think is a good thing for, you know, insurance to think about into the future, because people, they want good quality, they want good relationships, and they want value, you know, we should never pretend that that goes away. But they, you know, they’re coming back to that theme around, you know, digital, they want speed as well. You know, when they buy, they want to be able to buy, you know, they don’t necessarily want to fill in lots of forms. Filling in a form that is no different to paper on screen, you still have to put a lot of input. So people you know, they want to, they want to minimize that and they want decision making on the spots for you know, access. And the same goes for the claims. You know, if something happens, people want to claim settlement quickly and rapidly and they don’t necessarily want cash. I think that’s the other thing we saw in our survey last year, because in a pandemic, what do people really want, cash doesn’t help you really, it’s harder. What people want is access to service. They want access to advice they want access to, you know, even just the basic medical, you know, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s masks, whether it’s sanitizing, you know, fluids, people want, you know, that’s the thing they want tangible output from their product.

Michael Waitze  

So do you see not only do you, I’m asking you about digital transformation, but you also see insurance companies continuing this sort of trend towards being sort of, like health service partners as well. Does that make sense? In other words, not just giving you a cash pay up and saying, Wait a second, here’s access to services that we can provide to you, and whether it’s information or advice or stuff like that? Is that also being accelerated?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah. 100% You know, if you think about it, it seems to me really, really odd that we don’t have we haven’t had that historically. Yeah, I mean, because, you know, on most insurance products, you’ve got a complete alignment of interests with the customer, if you think about the life and health products, you know, you buy you buy a life insurance policy, you don’t want to die, right, you’re doing it to protect your family, your estate, if that happens. Same with a health insurance party, you don’t want to become sick, and go through major, you know, traumatic surgery, or whatever that might be. And, you know, the insurance company would think exactly the same, we’re here to protect you if, if the worst happens, right? But actually, you know, we’d rather you stay fit and healthy, and enjoy your life. So there’s a very natural alignment. So in that sense, just as you say, you know, we see people looking more for advice on health, diet, you know, well being, and when we see, you know, through our most recent survey, we see these things as becoming, you know, higher on people’s agenda. People think about much more about their mental health, they think much more about their sleep, they think about their exercise, their diet, I think, you know, home based working has brought many changes to all of us. But I think it’s, you know, one of the one of the positive changes is that these topics are much higher in people’s minds, you know, because you might think you’re working longer and harder because of the, you know, sort of more video calls. And that’s all but, you know, you’re not commuting, you know, and when I was based in the UK, I used half an hour and a half commute. So my door to door day was 14 or 15 hours. And, you know, so now, people if you’re not commuting, you have that you have more time, you know, potentially if you can organize your life, oh, you have more time on your hands to think about, about these topics. And it’s clearly from our survey, it’s on people’s minds. And, you know, there’s an opportunity, I would say, for insurers to embrace these topics and to embrace more of a lifetime relationship. Because, you know, as I said, there’s that alignment of interest. Yeah. And you know, how he does it, how he does it, you buy a policy, you go through a really, historically, potentially painful process to buy a policy, and then you get it. And then you don’t hear anything. That’s the communication stops until you change address, change bank, or maybe make a claim. That’s weird, right, if you think about it.  

Michael Waitze  

I want to get back to the evolving sort of mental health and physical needs of consumer customers, excuse me, and how insurance companies are evolving and changing in relation to that. But I want to get back to something else you mentioned as well, sort of the speed and efficiency aspect of digital transformation. And you mentioned earlier about traveling, I want to talk about driving a little bit too, because you brought that up as well, right? Motor insurance. A lot of people didn’t necessarily stop driving, but they drove a lot less, particularly as you said, if they had an hour and a half commute to work, which I don’t think is that unusual. But do you think it changes the way people will look at their motor insurance? And do you see new products? I won’t talk about new products for a little bit, right, that it’ll accelerate the adoption of pay as you go or other kinds of parametric products as well.

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, so I mean, you’re right, people definitely drove less because where? Where are you going? So you definitely saw a reduction of that because, you know, and time is reduced as a consequence. So, you know, people are out less in their cars and there’s less access. What you did see, by the way, is when the economy opened up, you saw a spike of things because people actually forgot how to drive but they were, they were less attuned to the, you know, to the day to day driving so that you also have those, those factors. But I think you know, for not just motor but I think for a lot of products, you know, the availability of. So consumer habits, so let’s start with that. So as you say, people may want to have more specific insurance periods or they will be fine tuned. And they may just look for, for different value from insurance products based on their own behavior, you know, so, so pay as you drive is a good one. I mean, that’s, that’s been around before anyway, you know, through the advent of telematics many years ago now. It was, you know, originally in certain markets telematics was there to help younger drivers who typically had much worse accident experience and you know, driving late at night, less experienced people in the car. So it was used as a way to, you know, to reduce the cost of insurance, a good driving behavior would lead to rewards and lower insurance costs, and you’re able to monitor that. Generally, it was the parents paying for the insurance, so they’re quite attuned to trying to have a better experience from their children and driving anyway. So I think this is, you know, as one accelerating the trend around longer term relationship building and management through added value advice and services. You know, I think it takes us back to the sort of digital topics that the advent of new forms of data give us lots of opportunities, as well. So, you know, historically, when you buy, let’s say, life insurance, you provide a whole bunch of information about yourself, your health, your family history, and it gets kind of sent away and processed. And, you know, some weeks later, if you’re lucky, you get an acceptance of the price you are quoted, if you’re, you know, less lucky, you get more medical evidence requirements, or a price that’s not aligned to the one that you saw. So, you know, it was not a great consumer experience. I think now, you know, the electronic underwriting tools that are that are around, make application of insurance, you know, should be a more instantaneous process for the majority of people, and we have tools that do that, and we, you know, our clients use those tools, and, you know, they’re developing all the time as well. So, you know, moving from a paper based system to making that system digital is the first step, and then making it more intuitive and the rules as a next step, and then actually bringing in wider sources of data, actually, is where we are now. You know, so the lifestyle underwriting underwriting here, you see this in the states for many years, you know, factors like driving status, and that the electronic systems are that, that’s easy checks on the medications that the people on and so, so, um, you know, financial checks of around credit worthiness, and so on. So a lot of these things can come in, and now make the whole process of application much more straightforward, because at the end of the day, if you can buy whatever insurance policy it is without having to do any anything or underwriting Yeah that’s I mean, that’s, that’s sort of the utopia that when we look at that look to get to, but I think that’s a tough challenge. But I think as we move along that path, you know, it’s a better customer journey that you can, the time and the intrusiveness of, that you take to buy an insurance policy, if you can, if you can reduce those, that’s that’s a better outcome.

Michael Waitze  

Yeah, look, I’m not sure we want to spend a lot of time talking about the use of distributed ledger technology and self sovereign data ownership. But at some point, it’s gonna have to become easier for someone like I am to just say, I want to have an insurance policy, all of my data already exists somewhere. Which part of that data do you want? And how can I get that to you in the most frictionless way? Is that fair? 

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, so yeah, however, it’s available and controlled. These are important topics, you know, I think for insurance companies, and the insurance sector in general, and you can take it to a broader level, we’re talking about insurance today. The challenge with the advent of data is that the way we should conduct ourselves is to use data to do good, right? So you can use new forms of data to make insurance cheaper for those that are already healthy and don’t pay a lot for insurance. But what do we gain through that saving, you know, what, one or two bucks here and there, actually, you know, to me, it’s about making insurance more easily and readily available to people who don’t buy it now, or for people who find it extremely expensive and because the underwriting categories, puts them in a certain certain box, and you know, through data upfront. But also through, you know, go back to that relationship by providing data as you go through and how you manage your lifestyle, your risk factors, you know, those are things that are much more positive messages and directions that the insurance industry can take. And I think if we, if we can show that we can do that. So, you know, we especially, we talk a lot about the protection gap in Asia, for the lack of insurance or the under insurance of individuals, families, businesses, if we can show that we can make progress in closing that by bringing more people in to insurance making it more affordable to people, moving people from high risk categories to medium risk, because of their good behavior, that that type of thing, I think that that becomes a social good. And I think it takes us into a positive territory, if we just do it, to reduce prices. If we do it, you know, for our own gains on profitability, you know, that that’s, you know, going going to the topic we don’t really want to spend much time on, but that’s when the regulator’s are going to take a strong, negative interest and look to make more have more controls around it. So I think, you know, to a reasonable extent, you know, a lot of this is in our own hands. And, you know, we can be masters of our own destiny in this future, which I think has to be a good has to be a good thing.

Michael Waitze  

It doesn’t look, I think you’re pointing towards these towards financial inclusion, right. And most people talk about financial inclusion in relation to you know, stocks and bonds and investing and ETFs and stuff like that. But I think you’re right. And I guess if you, if you, if people understand that GDP per capita is a significant driver of insurance penetration, and also a financial inclusion in general, do you think that the pandemic has made people more aware of the necessity to be insured? Right, not just in the health space, but across the board?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, well, I think, you know, when I said at the beginning, that sort of insurance is sold and not bought. So you know, that that’s what you normally see. So. So in a sort of recessionary environment, which, you know, we wait to see how that goes. But you know, the pandemic has clearly led to big reductions in GDP and put growth on hold, what you normally see in that sort of environment is lapsation of insurance policies, because people have in their, in their own minds, and that sort of hierarchy of what’s what’s important. So if my income starts to reduce, what are the things that are top of the list to go? Right? And, you know, historically, when we’ve looked at this, insurance isn’t top of that list? It’s but it’s somewhere, it’s somewhere in the middle, you know, so what are you going to cut back on, you’re going to cut back on your holidays, and so on. And normally, the things that people are going to hold on to the very end these days are that their smartphone and their Netflix subscription, but what you what you see with within this in this period, with with insurance is because it’s the sort of recessionary impact or impact of reduced income, reduce growth, it’s driven by pandemic, right, so so what that raises awareness, and, so people are much less likely, as our survey shows this, they’re much less likely to lapse their policy because they understand the benefits of the cover they have. And the other interesting thing from the survey, this this, this latest one, you know, we see some of the heightened concerns that from last year, in certain places, we seem sort of relaxing a little bit. So China, Australia, New Zealand. So, you know, maybe not, you know, maybe maybe not as a shock, but in the countries where the COVID situation has, you know, to a large extent in their minds, at least been gone. You know, so China’s back more or less to normal ways of operating, you look at sports games in Australia, New Zealand, the crowds are there, you know, so it’s so that they’ve been very successful in keeping, you know, COVID out of their territories. And you see that in people’s attitudes and some of the concerns we’ve seen in some markets around financial well being around mental health, you see it less less in those areas, which is good in many ways. But you know, but I think, you know, speaking to the insurance sector, and you know, this sort of sold or not bought, the moment that we have at the moment trying to think about positives is that insurance is high on people’s agenda. Maybe for the first time you know, the other great saying and insurance, nobody wakes up in the morning thinking about buying insurance, or is actually, you know, at the moment in a number of places because, always, they definitely think about not lapsing their policy. So, but it’s not that I don’t think that’s going to be a permanent impact, and that’s why I mentioned that sort of more slightly more relaxed feeling that you see in those countries where COVID has had less impact or is currently, you know, less impactful. So I think that, you know, the opportunity moment is now. I’ve been in insurance and reinsurance for many, many years. And we constantly moan about nobody waking up thinking about insurance, we have to actively sell the benefits of insurance rather than people coming to us that there’s a maybe a short to medium term change, but it’s definitely that. And, you know, it is an opportunity for people to sell good quality products to customers.

Michael Waitze  

So do you have any more insights? You brought up this idea about mental health and resilience earlier, but I want to dig a little bit deeper if you have some time to do this? Do you feel like mental health as a thing has become less stigmatized during the last year where people have been isolated, and then felt themselves feeling like a little bit of, you know, mentally confused? And are there ways that the insurance industry can come in and disintermediate that and if there are, what do you think those ways are?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, so I think I mean, I think you’re right, you know, that topic around mental health, it was, say, more taboo than it is now. I mean, I, you know, I don’t want to sort of broadly or generally across different cultures, different nations of where it is fair enough, you know, if I think about our own experience, you know, so in Swiss Re, across, you know, we’ve got 2800 people across Asia, around in many different countries, and different in different environments and cultures, as I said, at one time or another, all of those people have been in a lockdown environment, home based working. And, you know, it’s, it’s brought challenges to different people in different ways. You know, this sort of concept of personal resilience, you know, some people, some people can take it, some people struggle with it, but actually, that resilience goes up and down. You know, so one day, you’re, you’re feeling great, the next day, you’re feeling not so great, you know, and so there’s no sort of hard and fast rules around how people feel. But I think we’re much more attuned to it, you know, so, on the one hand, this sort of the last year plus of living in a virtual environment, yes. Many of my colleagues I haven’t I haven’t seen since, you know, towards the end of 2019, it’s a year ago. Yeah, it was good. But on the on the other hand, you know, having conversations with them, as we’re doing now, across, across sort of video, you do get an opportunity to talk about other stuff, how’s it going for you, how’s your family, you know, and you get to know people better through that sort of, you know, or at least you see different different dimensions to, you know, to people and your relationship. So, you know, I think employees, colleagues, employers, you know, there’s an increased awareness of some of these challenges that this environment brings. But also as a sort of an increased sense of responsibilities. I think, for insurance, you know, what we saw in the survey is the vast majority of respondents are open to insurance providing access to mental health, wellbeing advice, programs, but equally around a diet, around sleep. So some people are open to it. I think they want to choose when they access it, you know, they don’t want to, they don’t have it forced on them, but they will, if they have the facility to access some of those services. I think it’s clearly an area of interest. It’s also clearly a new kind of relationship as well, because historically, people don’t have that sort of relationship with their insurer. So it’s, I don’t think it’s a switch that you can flick, and it’s just going to change, but I think it’s an area where you can build on over a period of time as you bring new customers in, whether they’re young or old. You know, you can you have a chance to sort of reset some of those relationship areas.

Michael Waitze  

I agree. I did an episode and I released an episode yesterday, actually on another one of my podcasts with Microsoft. And they put out a work trend index report that they called the next great disruption is hybrid work. And one of the things that they found there was that the relationships that you have with the people at work and the networks that you’ve built are kind of disintegrating slowly because you don’t get to see those people every day. You know, there’s no water cooler conversation? Do you feel like that’s had an impact at all on product development? And sort of internal innovation? Or do you think people are starting to get used to working remotely?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think it’s, well, you know, I guess I see, you know, relationships with, with colleagues, with friends, with clients. You have a certain, you know, depending on how well you know people, you have a sort of relationship equity with them. And, you know, I think my theory, at least, I have no idea if this is true or proven. But, you know, over time when you don’t have contact with people, that equity, you know, starts to erode to a certain extent, and, you know, video conferencing helps. But, you know, when we think of we are shifted to, to our clients, you know, so I spent video conferencing very convenient, you know, so I can have a meeting with the CEO in Australia, and then, you know, half an hour later, I can switch to China and you know, so you can be very efficient about it. But, you know, going back to the human relationships, you can have the business topic, and discuss around that. But you know, a lot of things in our business are about the personal relationship, so that, you know, when you have a coffee post, or pre the meeting, or you have lunch, or whatever. And those are the things that are hard to do. And I think the same applies to when you’re talking about new styles of innovation. So there’s the stuff that we do on a non-life side of our business, we have annual contract renewals, and actually, they’ve run pretty smoothly in this virtual environment, because their contracts that expire and need to be renewed, their risk that the insurance needs to move off their balance sheet onto the balance sheet apart. So there’s a kind of a necessity, if I was being a bit controversial, I’d say maybe they run even smoother in this sort of environment than they do when people have the chance to talk and intervene. But I think to your point, you know, in Asia, in particular, you know, we talked about growth markets, and you meant you said it before, you know, increasing GDP brings demand with the different levels and products of insurance over a period of time. And so when, you know, I guess in the modern world, you call it co creation and ideation, I call it getting together for a workshop, but you have to have those things, you know, that are historic way of doing it is to get However, many people in a room with a with a whiteboard, I wouldn’t say Blackboard, I won’t go that far back into the past. But you know, it’s an easier process to brainstorm those topics. In a virtual world it’s harder, right? Because you’re bringing the same people together, across, you know, across a virtual environment, you have a virtual whiteboard. And, you know, what I’ve seen over the last year, is a level of adaptation to that. But I don’t think we’re there in terms of, you know, replacing what we would have had historically with what we have now, so I think that that has the risk of being a detriment to growth and a new opportunity, new drivers for insurance penetration. I think we’ll improve on it over time. Because I don’t think that, as I said before, that that sort of frequent travel thing isn’t going to return. But when we do get back there, it’ll bring a high level of focus, because, you know, you know that when you have face to face interactions, if you have to fly into a certain country, that those have a high value in the future, because it’s harder to fly, it’s more expensive to fly. So yeah, the not a bad thing to say, you go into this two or three hour workshop, something has to come out of it. Right? So, because you can’t come back next week and do it again. So I think overall, it’s a period of transition for human businesses. We’ve shown our adaptability a lot over the last year, you know, of course, I’ve been some winners and you know, unfortunately, losers, but when I look at the way businesses run and how we behave as people, you know, we found ways to make it work. And that’s a great thing.

Michael Waitze  

Yeah, I think that’s the nature of humans. I’ve said a lot in the last year. This thing I wish you were in the room with me because I have a whiteboard here and we can whiteboard this thing out, it would be a lot more efficient. But you’re right. I think humans adapt to things. And the other thing I want to say before I ask my last question is, you simply can’t be old enough to remember blackboards. 

Russell Higginbotham  

I remember them well enough to remember my maths teacher hitting me on the back of the head with the Blackboard or eraser.

Michael Waitze  

That’s where the bobbing and weaving skills come from. I want to ask a little bit about engagement. And then I want to let you go, you know, you talk a lot about how insurance is sold and not bought, and that you buy a policy and then there’s no engagement until claims time. And you’re not the only person that said that to me. But do you think there’s a way now actually using technology, so you don’t have to just do face to face meetings that insurance companies can make insurance more of an interactive thing where you can have a better relationship through engagement techniques that technology will allow? That make sense?

Russell Higginbotham  

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s our opportunity, you know, we should be driven by how our customers want to engage with us and that changes over a period of time, you know, sometimes you want to see some people sometimes you don’t depends on how busy you are, you know, I guess if you’re a high worth, high net worth individual historically you would have maybe had a lunch with your, with your broker to talk about your portfolio and that was a way of sort of justifying themselves. Most people don’t have time for that anymore. Right? So you know, when you want to do a quick review of your portfolio, you have it, you can have a video conference, you want to sign some documents, you want to do it electronically. And a lot of the time you just want to have a system that you don’t want to talk to someone you can just dive in and find out the information you need to know and then maybe you’re gonna have a follow up question that you want to answer straight away. So I think the challenge, you know, for organizations is to have the systems and it’s really the ecosystem rather than that, you know, when we say systems, we start thinking about IT systems but it’s it’s the ecosystems that can that can flex to the needs of the customer, which which can be different any any day of the week or any any point in time. And I think the organization’s that can do that, not just in the sales process, but in the ongoing relationship management process, I think are the ones that are going to have long term, long term success. 

Michael Waitze  

Agreed. I think that’s a great way to end. I really want to thank you Russell Higginbotham CEO reinsurance Asia at Swiss Re for coming on and doing this today. That was awesome and really interesting. Thank you again.

Russell Higginbotham  

It’s a pleasure. I really enjoyed it and the time passed quickly. So thanks. Thanks for inviting me and thanks for the discussion.

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