Isabelle has more than 20 years’ experience in the European insurance markets. Prior to joining Xceedance, she was Head of Client and Broker Engagement at AIG Europe. Before this, she held leadership positions at General Global Corporate & Commercial, Zurich Insurance, and Deutsche Post DHL Group.
1. Can you give us a brief of your career before Xceedance?
Servicing and developing relationships with large corporates have always been key drivers for me throughout my career. Before joining Xceedance, I spent nearly 25 years in Corporate Insurance working with large global insurers in various operations related, relationship management, distribution management, and leadership roles in Paris, London, and Milan.
2. How did you get your start in the field of Finance?
I was initially keen to work in the insurance and risk management field, which led me to my first role working for a large insurer in Paris, and things just happened from then. Insurance is a great industry opening so many opportunities around the world. Corporate insurance allowed me to interact with clients in very diverse industries around the world.
3. Could you tell us more about Xceedance and your role as VP, Client Executive – Southern Europe at the company?
Xceedance is a great success story, and this is one of the reasons I was attracted to the company. Xceedance was created almost 10 years ago by a small team of entrepreneurs and forward-thinking individuals including our CEO, Arun Balakrishnan. The company provides strategic operations support, technology, and data services to drive efficiencies for insurance organizations worldwide. We work with insurers, reinsurers, agents, brokers, and program administrators to boost operational efficiency. There is deep insurance expertise within the company as insurance is our only vertical. We leverage our vast insurance and technology expertise to facilitate, automate, and optimize insurance lifecycle functions, including exposure management, actuarial requirements, underwriting, policy management, claims handling, and finance.
My focus is to make the Xceedance brand known to the insurance ecosystem across the region and to partner with re/insurers, brokers, MGAs, and other industry players to support their growth, facilitate their digital transformation, help them work through their pain points, and improve operational efficiency. It is extremely varied.
4. What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?
As mentioned before, the variety of industries, countries/regions, and people I have had the chance to meet is something I am very grateful for. This is still happening today as I work across more market segments.
5. You have many offerings. Can you break out your technological solutions for our audience?
This could be a very long answer, but I will try to keep it short! Our technology services span across the entire insurance value chain to help businesses digitize and reinforce end-to-end processes, future-proofing their core operations. We help insurance organizations move up the digital maturity curve leveraging proven technology frameworks, proprietary tools, leading commercial-off-the-shelf platforms, and expert services. Our technology services include architecture services, automation services, custom application development, data management and insights, infrastructure services, system integration, testing COE. We also develop digital tools such as chatbot, workflow management, data extraction tools and many more!
6. What makes Xceedance unique? How does it stand out from its competitors?
To me, there are 3 key elements that make Xceedance unique. The first one is that insurance is what we know and all we do, every day. The insurance ecosystem is the only one we serve. The second one is that our approach combines people, technology, and data. This was the vision of our founders and they have been very successful at it. And finally, we support our clients throughout the entire value chain. I think there are very few companies that do it the way we do at Xceedance.
7. How is global inflation driving the need to cut costs and digitalize- which has been accelerated during the pandemic?
The level of inflation we are experiencing (around 9% in the Eurozone) is something that most people in the insurance market have never experienced in their working lives. This makes it difficult for any of us to predict what will happen and how companies will react. This challenging economic environment is not the time for insurers and reinsurers to cut digital investments. It is even more critical to focus on efficiency in terms of processes and capital deployment to achieve their targeted combined ratios, hit underwriting profit targets, and reduce expenses. Inflation can be considered an accelerator of the digitization of insurance. What insurers and reinsurers have done to date to enhance the digital experience for their clients is certainly very positive, however, to limit the impact of inflation on their own bottom lines, they need to pay more attention internally to what they are doing, and how. There still appear to be too many inefficiencies for many market players who use multiple systems which require manual inputs. We need to address the imbalance between the digitization of marketing and distribution, and the internal processes such as policy management, pricing, underwriting, and claims, which are at an earlier stage on the digital journey.
8. Xceedance is powering insurance transformation. Why according to you do so many tech transformations fail?
There seem to be a few common pitfalls and challenges when it comes to tech transformation. Time is one of them. Some of these projects take years, some over a decade. Think about how the world has changed in 10 years. I think it’s fair to question how adequate some transformation projects that started 10 years really are now.
Technology is moving so fast that any project that is not digitally nimble enough is unlikely to be successful.
Also, a tech transformation cannot be a standalone project. It needs to be driven by business needs and looking at technology must come once the underlying process is optimized for it to succeed.
Finally, picking the right tech transformation partner is key: a partner that will be there for the long-term, that has deep industry expertise, and speaks the same language to truly understand industry issues.
9. Can you shed some light on the severe shortage of actuaries? What’s driving it and what can carriers do to overcome it?
First of all, the insurance industry as a whole is facing a talent crisis – and it got worse during the pandemic when many people reassessed their careers and left the industry. This already challenging environment is combined with an increase in complex regulatory-driven and compliance-related projects. And a growing demand to generate better insights for the business.
To the actuarial question specifically – much of it is simply a question of perception. Many young professionals that would traditionally have gone down the actuarial career path are now moving towards data science and computer science. Consequently, there are not enough people young people being trained on the basics of actuarial services.
Overcoming this growing challenge is two-fold: outsourcing some of the actuarial work and automation. Outsourcing to experienced partners is becoming increasingly attractive to carriers. A hybrid model is attractive – we are seeing more of this with our clients as they partner with us to do the heavy lifting on the actuarial work, then pass their analysis on to the client’s in-house actuary team.
Actuarial automation should also be considered as it provides an opportunity to keep up with demand, reduce costs and properly leverage the actuarial resource carriers already have.
Choosing to partner with a company like Xceedance on both aspects highly benefits companies as they enable their actuaries to contribute to higher-value, commercially-focused work that directly benefits the company’s strategy and decision-making.
10. Could you give a sneak peek into the recent developments at Xceedance?
Well, there have been many. For one, we have been growing our actuarial and analytics team and offerings, which as you can anticipate is valued by our clients in light of the actuarial shortage we just discussed. We are also continuing to enhance our production of digital services such as the Xceedance Virtual Assistant and the Xceedance Digital Workflow Management solution. On the claims side of the industry, our digital-first claims third-party administrator (TPA) service provides full-service claims operations services to insurance companies worldwide, with a focus on advanced and intelligent automation to close claims faster and improve visibility into claim handling and status.
11. What are Xceedance’s plans for expansion and growth? Where do you see it in the coming years?
Our roadmap is to continue product development to enhance the company’s overall value proposition and expand our portfolio in service of our global client base. We are also focused on expanding our vast data services so our clients can better plan and execute their goals when working with us. We are also expanding our geographical footprint in new regions, such as Continental Europe.
12. Where do your passions lie? What do you think defines you as a person?
I am passionate about travel, discovering new places and new people. This means that I am always on the go. As to what defines me as a person, I would like to think kindness, listening skills, and the ability to enjoy what life brings, big or small.
13. What is the most significant piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
There may be different ways of driving transformation, so pause and challenge the status quo…. That and kindness of course!