Innovation nation?

I can’t remember a time when there have been so many new initiatives launched in such a short space of time

Innovation nation?

Kevin Paterson is managing director of Source Insurance

I am often asked what innovation really means when it comes to the financial services industry, and in particular to those of us involved in the property market. Can we ever claim to be innovative when compared to tech companies like Google? In fact many look at the apparent leaps in technology many of these high tech firms seem to make on an almost daily basis and ask themselves, whats the point.

My answer is that it is impossible to compare apples and mangoes – innovation in one sector is likely to be very different to that in another. For some in our industry for example, innovation could simply represent moving manual processes online and building a mobile responsive website so that customers can access their products and/or information whenever they want, wherever they want and from whatever device they want. For others, innovation could be automating the way in which they deliver advice to their customers.

What’s important is that we share the same ethos behind innovation that the likes of Google display – the desire to constantly review and improve. And to the naysayers out there I would say that it’s been a long time coming but change has finally come to the financial services industry.

Take the insurance world for example. Aviva recently announced that it is making a smart connected water leak detector – LeakBot – available to its customers, why? Well escape of water accounts for almost two thirds of household claims so Aviva figure that if they can help reduce this they can get their premiums down. Meanwhile, Allianz and AXA have teamed up with Google to work in partnership on its Nest technology, we have all seen the adverts, “now you can control your home from your phone”, that can be used as a smart thermostat and smoke detector.

Hiscox has partnered with a company called Neos to provide its customers with a 24/7 monitoring service with motion sensors, smoke detectors and HD cameras controlled via an app. All are great examples of how established players can work with third parties to test new ideas and prove concepts to launch new solutions that should resonate with existing customers and the younger generation alike and more importantly help to bring down home insurance premiums.

I can’t remember a time when there have been so many new initiatives launched in such a short space of time. Some will succeed and others will undoubtedly fail. The impact of some of the innovation that we have seen introduced over the last few months of 2016 may take a while to trickle through to intermediaries and their customers and some of it may be completely irrelevant. The important thing is that the established industry is working alongside start-ups and other specialists to ensure that we continue to drive forward with the much needed change our customers demand and deserve.

I for one can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!