Pieter Coopmans and Marc Stevens (GB Life): bringing simplicity and transparency to a complex industry
GB Life CEO Pieter Coopmans and Chief Marketing Distribution Officer Marc Stevens say intermediaries are responding very positively to the firm’s innovative approach, which challenges life insurance’s traditional business model.
How is your strategy progressing?
Pieter Coopmans (PC): Our effort to make life insurance easier has been a great success, judging by the first year following our decision to bury the old life insurance business model. Once we launched our platform, partners and clients immediately started using it and most importantly appreciating that it makes their life easier. We are seeing a shift in business from clients requesting traditional solutions to people convinced by our innovative approach. We listen to them carefully, and together we are redesigning the insurance value chain.
Marc Stevens (MS): Our partners inspired us to design new revolutionary solutions in which we select the best-performing funds on the market, whether active or passive, offering institutional and clean share classes. We make them available through our platform with selected custodians and apply a single fee for our partners, like Netflix. There are no hidden fees nor unnecessary paperwork. By adopting this approach, we drastically reduce costs while maintaining complete flexibility – our users can plug in the funds of their choice. This new approach enables us to target a much broader partner base.
“We have redesigned the insurance value chain together with our partners.”
How are your clients and partners benefiting from the platform?
MS: Intermediaries benefit from features such as our pre-sales toolbox to add more value when they advise their clients. If the client says yes, our partners can onboard them digitally. Take the example of a Belgian father who wants to make a “gift” to his children. Our technology enables all signatures to be collected with a few clicks, instead of the weeks and volume of wasted paper entailed by traditional mail. Thus, automatically engaging them in the sustainability of the environment. The digital library helps the professional intermediary to explain and to add value to their customers. Both intermediaries and individual customers enjoy using our platform because it allows them to remain in total control 24/7. That is our definition of a real partnership.
PC: Our partners know exactly what they want – we simply help them to organise their business through a single transparent platform without unnecessary effort, so they can focus on their core business: advising clients on issues such as wealth planning, tax and inheritance. By designing a solution that reflects their needs, they finish up with the exact tool that they require. More broadly we are helping them move away from the traditional life insurance business model. Through its own recent experience, GB Life is able to demonstrate the benefits of this strategy. Our users are leaders in the market and can illustrate how effectively a genuinely new approach can resolve old problems.
Which challenges could life insurance face over the next decade?
PC: Trust will remain the critical element in our industry – other aspects such as asset management and custodian services will become commodities. Added value will come down to advice, service, strategy, access to high-quality information and a sound understanding of each client and their needs. Being a good insurer won’t be enough – we will need to be increasingly proactive and forward-looking, in close collaboration with our partners.
MS: Communication and interactions will continue to evolve. If we want to remain relevant, we will need to figure out how to ensure maximum efficiency in these areas amid a fast-changing environment. We have to determine future clients’ expectations in regard to interactions with their intermediary and life insurance company. Is human interaction equal to a digital experience?