Learning from the best: 2 leading businesses in insurance and financial services

Over the past few years, there has been a huge amount of disruption in the world of insurance, as well as more broadly across the whole financial services sector. This is largely due to external factors such as changing customer expectations, new technology and new regulations – and it’s become clear that if insurance firms, of any shape or size, fail to react, they’re risking their very existence.

But which way to turn?

To help find some answers, we’ve asked two experts to take a look at two companies that are embracing this disruption and winning. Here, they take a brief look at what these businesses are doing – and what smaller insurance firms can learn from them.

Veygo by Admiral

Chosen by Austyn Tusler, former Head of Group Strategy at underwriters Barbican Insurance

Veygo was launched in 2017 by Admiral and offers flexible, on-demand, short-term car insurance for people who are car-sharing, renting or learning. There are two reasons why it’s worth examining what they’re doing.

The first is that they’re recognising the changing behaviours and lifestyles of younger people and the evolving economy – particularly in the ‘Generation Z’ market that Veygo’s products are aimed at. These people act differently – for example, they may not own cars in the traditional way, but might instead regularly hire a Zipcar or share with a friend.

What’s more, now that so many things are 24/7, actually having the ability to get cover instantly is important for this target market. That’s what they expect: to go online, find out how to do it, and get it now, rather than pre-planning a week or two ahead, or deciding to do it at the weekend and finding your broker is shut until Monday – all the things that we’re used to bumping into.

It’s clear therefore that Admiral have recognised that there’s a potentially lucrative new market out there and have put the customers right at the centre by showing a deep understanding of their behaviour and how to cater for their needs.

The second point to note is that some of these larger insurance companies are activating initiatives like this outside of their core infrastructure. Veygo was launched by Admiral, but as a separate operation with separate branding and a ‘start-up’ mentality. This allows them to experiment and act as a kind of ‘internal disruptor’. It is, perhaps, the only way to do something very different and flourish, away from the constraints that might exist within the normal business.

The two key lessons here for any other company are simple: first, understand your customers’ changing behaviour and be ready to adapt your business to match this; and second, if that’s too great a leap to make with your existing workforce, be ready to create a separate team that’s able to shake things up. Failing to do this means you run the risk of becoming irrelevant to a large potential market.


Chosen by James Lawrence, Managing Director of marketing consultancy Top Dog Communications

Barclays’ CEO Jes Staley doesn’t mince his words. “A bank today is a technology company with a balance sheet and with regulators,” he’s said. And it’s easy to see the same is largely true for almost all financial services organisations.

Nonetheless, the retail and business banking arms of Barclays have been smart enough to embrace the fact that competitive advantage is rarely about the IT itself – as, let’s face it, most companies have access to pretty much the same technology. Instead, they’ve realised, it’s about what that technology can do for its customers.

At the same time, Barclays – like other incumbent banks – have faced a strong challenge from a host of FinTech start-ups, coupled with the launch of Open Banking (which requires FS providers to share customer information with other FS providers if their customers give consent). Responding to these twin threats, Barclays has been using technology to enhance one of its key resources: its people.

Whereas smaller start-ups, powered by automated technology and limited by a lack of scale, often struggle to allow their customers to speak to a real person when they want to, Barclays has literally thousands of employees paid to build and manage relationships with its 24 million UK customers. So the 327-year-old bank decided to dial up the human factor.

A great example of this is how it has empowered its business relationship managers – the people whose job it is to support small and medium-sized companies – to make decisions based on their own knowledge of the customer and the local environment, rather than everything being centralised and decided by an algorithm. In a way, it feels like going back to the old days of the local bank manager and the personal relationships he or she would have with the local community.

But the really clever part is how Barclays has been able to do this kind of personalisation at scale – and that’s where the technology has come in. Supporting every one of those relationship managers is Salesforce’s Customer Success Platform – a suite of cloud-based software solutions that include sales/CRM, marketing and service functions, as well as several others. That allows every relationship manager to have quick and easy access to information about every customer they’re dealing with – which enables them to offer a human, helpful and personalised service where they can make quick decisions and offer good advice tailored to each individual’s circumstances.

In a world where customer experience trumps everything, making each customer feel valued in this way is the most powerful marketing you can get.

And that’s the lesson I think smaller businesses, such as insurance brokers, need to take on board: if you only think about one thing, consider how you can make each one of your clients, or potential clients, feel like a valued individual every time you connect with them.

Learn more

If you’d like to find out more about how to apply some of these lessons to your own business, we’d love to have a chat about how Cognition24 can support you. Please give us a call or email us.

Or if you want to read more about how insurance firms can make the right decisions to stay ahead of the game, take a look at these articles: