By FMI (a Division of Bidvest Life Ltd)
A virtual roundtable discussion with some key leaders at FMI – Steve Piper, Chief Distribution Officer; Jane Fehsenfeld, Distribution Marketing Manager; Jessica Beattie, Head of Brand and Customer Marketing; Gareth Quin, Chief Technology Officer; and Leza Wells, Chief Product Actuary.
“Agile” and “steadfast” are two contradictory traits, but both are equally important in business – the ability to not only adapt in times of crises but to also remain focused on the end game and not to allow uncertainty to drive us into a reactive mode.
In March 2020, on the eve of the first lockdown, FMI were able to adapt, literally overnight, by gearing up our systems and internal processes to allow for networked teams like claims, client care and underwriting to all have the capacity to work efficiently and effectively from home.
Our adviser events for the year were all held online, the success of which can also be attributed to a pre-emptive shift to digital prior to the pandemic. As Fehsenfeld, says: ‘By embracing the digital evolution already identified, we had planned digitising our campaigns through webinars, podcasts and virtual launches before lockdown. In 2021, we will continue to focus on highlighting sales opportunities and delivering technologies to support our business partners and of course, enhance the customer experience.’
‘2020 also saw us redefine how we meet the needs of a growing market by expanding the range of occupations we’re able to insure. As such, our evolved product offering makes FMI relevant to a changing workforce, thereby placing us in a position to embrace change and the growing need for income protection, no matter what an individual does for a living or how they earn their income,’ says Beattie. The ability to cover more occupations than ever before has never been more relevant in the uncertain world we currently live in, but it was instigated through improved methods of risk assessment even before the pandemic, to cater for a growing market, increasingly defined by a range of business owners, independent contractors and those with multiple income streams.
Piper says the decision to expand FMI’s range of occupations eligible for cover, to include occupations which other insurers aren’t always able to protect, is in line with FMI’s core belief that everyone should be able to protect their income against the risk of injury, illness or death – the “Income First” approach, as we at FMI call it. This is why we exist and will therefore continue to be the driving force behind everything we do, in 2021 and beyond.
‘Insurance companies exist to protect customers during times of crises. Therefore, there needs to be ongoing developments in risk assessment processes and product development, to ensure we remain relevant and continue to offer the most appropriate protection for our current and future customer,’ reinforces Wells.
FMI has also made major advancements in technology to support service delivery. Quin says that amidst the uncertainty and change of 2020, FMI managed to maintain focus and improve every single business process to streamline turnaround times and make doing business with FMI easier.
Tech advancement has been accelerated due to the pandemic and this will continue to be a key focus at FMI in 2021. Particularly in the area of new business processes and the launch of a new client application – a fully digital process that “intelligently” delivers applicants the questions relevant to their profile and assesses how they answered the question before. This forms part of FMI’s move
away from paper applications where we can start to provide immediate answers to applicants and elegantly guide them through the underwriting process in a much more efficient, pain-free way.
Quin says that digitisation of new policy applications and servicing processes doesn’t just improve the customer experience by making underwriting and servicing faster and easier, but it also creates a more robust operating base able to function under any circumstances.
FMI’s innovation in insurance products and new business processes has not only geared us up to support advisers and policyholders in the backdrop of the Covid-pandemic, but with a longer-term view into the future as we continue to embrace a virtual world, remain steadfast in our plans, but agile in times of uncertainty.