Strategy& : Japan’s Insurance Sector post-COVID Where to From Here?
Executive summary :
As of May 2020, Japanese insurers have mobilised rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden decrease in global interest rates and significant restrictions on people’s movement are necessitating changes to product portfolios, distribution models, and business operations.
However, business continuity and crisis management are only half the story; while there is a pressing need to react quickly to fast-moving events, insurers must also reassess their long-term strategy. The need for establishing customer trust and supporting them through a time of need has rarely been greater.
We expect the market to be significantly different over the longer term and here is what insurers should focus on:
- Evolve product portfolios to reflect lower interest rates and changes to underlying risks— this extends to optimising underlying investments (to achieve the desired yield) as well as extending into adjacencies to capture new revenue streams;
- Become digitally enabled across customer interactions, distribution (including agents/banca partners), core operations, and back-end processing to support new ways of working and evolved risk profiles;
- Integrate more tightly with suppliers to support their customer promise—in the short run, this means working with them to creatively support their businesses.
- Rethink the operating model—beyond organisation structures and processes, successful insurers will critically rethink their workforce strategies, cost structures, physical presence, and organisational culture to build resilience and adaptability.
The successful insurer of the Post-COVID era will be the ones that take a holistic approach to rethinking their business (beyond just reacting to market dynamics).
Insurers can move in this direction by calibrating their mid- and long-term strategies around six key areas: strategy & brand, distribution, finance & liquidity, workforce, operations & supply chain, and being proactive about the regulatory agenda. In short, insurers must watch the immediate situation, but with a firm focus on the emerging future to deliver on customer promises and stakeholder expectations.
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