Financial industry innovation – change the game!


Here’s something to think about: we are going to see $12 to $18 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer in the next 12 years in North America. (US GDP is $12 trillion). By 2053, $130 trillion will have moved from one generation to the next, in rolling waves of wealth transfer. All this will involve monies moving to new customers who are far more independent, financially savvy, and technically sophisticated.

In other words, tomorrow’s customer is going to be completely unlike the customer of today. That’s why innovating — keeping up with the future – is critical!

Tomorrow I keynote a group of professionals in the life insurance industry. Next Monday, I keynote a national Association of Actuaries; the following week, an international accounting and professional services powerhouse. Last week, a major bank and a number of wealth management firms. The heavy duty theme this month is the world of finance!

Here’s the thing about anyone doing business in financial services: you can drown in all the noise and short term hype and hysteria that involve markets and economies in rapid change.

Or, on the other hand, you can manage through that, and think about the innovations that are set to occur through the next five years. Focus on those, and there’s your future strategy.

Here’s what’s certain in the insurance industry: someone will do one or more of these things, in a big way, that will cause significant and long lasting market disruption and transformation.

  • they will redefine the business model (particularly in insurance): for example, health care costs worldwide are set to explode, and the system will implode. Someone will ride this obvious trend and do something transformative that forever changes the industry. It’s not about managing health costs; it’s about redefining the concept of health care. Think bio-connectivity, and health care rearchitecture.
  • they will transform how business is done in the industry.Today, it’s still an industry that is still about brokers and distribution. Insurance is sold, not bought, based on fear of the future. That’s set to change. Tomorrow, smart widgets on top of a legacy insurance platform? The concept of “disintermediation” has been around for a long time, but here’s a certainty: tomorrow’s 50 year old is a very different animal from today’s 50 year old! Gen-Connect expects much more!
  • they will redefine the product. Today, we buy life insurance and health care insurance and other “products.” Someone will figure out that people don’t want products: they want their own unique, self-defined, self-managed solutions, that likely include multiple solutions from multiple sources. Think “iPhone meets the life policy!”
  • they’ll change the brand perception: fast movers will transform the product and services that are offered, by offering faster-paced, more relevant brands to consumers who aggressively self-manage every aspect of their daily life. Think Geico.
  • they’ll constantly change the target customer. Today, insurance is sold to groups of employees, directly to individuals, and to affinity groups. Tomorrow, it will be sold to rapidly evolving, temporary fast-moving customer targets. Think portability: if the typical person will have 30 different careers and 50 different jobs in their lifetime, they’re no longer a captive customer!

Is that a bunch of babble? Not really. Five, ten, twenty years out, the insurance industry will look unlike anything that we know if it today. Market transformation is everywhere, and its’ going to sweep this industry faster than fast.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.