Rana Biswas, Vice-President Equisoft is building its APAC business from ground-up in about twenty countries. With experience of over 25 years in the industry, he has contributed in the growth and development of the businesses he has been associated with and is building Equisoft’s business now. We engaged into a conversation with him and explored the Equisoft’s business, the market and future plans of the company. Read on to know more:
1. What are the solutions that Equisoft offers that are different from its market competitors?
Equisoft digital solutions and services for insurance and investment professionals are unlike any other. Our strategic digital transformation products and services create solutions that solve the biggest, most complex problems facing the insurance and investment industries
Our end-to-end solutions for the insurance industry offer integrated or modular, frontand back-end systems for insurers, distributors, bancassurers and advisors. Our investment value chain solutions include investment applications & tools for all stakeholders, from fund manufacturers and broker/dealers to advisors.
We are unrivalled when it comes to implementation services and support for Oracle Insurance Policy Administration system (OIPA). Equisoft is the world’s leading integrator of OIPA with 100% success.
Equisoft solutions are globally used and locally supported, with the most clients in production. Our 750+ industry experts have worked with 100+ global financial institutions. We have 35+ insurance clients across the globe that use our end-to-end digital transformation solutions.
A particular point of difference is that Equisoft has unique, best in class, data migration capabilities (over 200 migrations completed) so companies seeking to modernize don’t have to engage a third vendor to implement complex data migration projects.
2. What are the technologies that Equisoft leverages in its solutions?
Equisoft funds “Equisoft Labs” which is a set of initiatives that do not necessarily have a clear business case, but that allow employees to use technologies in creative ways. This creates great opportunities for skills development and growth and is a win-win because Equisoft could eventually benefit from some successful ideas. For example, last year some our engineers have worked using Gurobi, a powerful mathematical optimizer. This type of technology is typically used by large enterprise to optimize shipping routes for example, so we wondered whether it could be used to optimize retirement planning.
In addition to this, we also use cutting edge technology in our mainstream development. Several of our teams use Kotlin and Micronaut for their application development, others use .Net Core. We try to leverage cloud PaaS components whenever possible and serverless, whether that is AWS Lambda or Azure functions. And most of our teams have migrated to Azure Dev Ops a fantastic suite of services to collaborate and deploy software projects faster.
3. Have your tools made insurance and wealth management easy in days of pandemic? How?
Many Equisoft solutions have made insurance and wealth management organizations’ response to the pandemic more effective.
Our digital, integrated solutions make remote work possible and more effective.
Advisors who could no longer meet with clients face-to-face were able to continue to serve customers and find new prospects with the use of Equisoft/connect, a CRM specifically designed for advisors. Equisoft/Connect enables them to see all client data from a variety of carriers in one location, at a glance. That data can be used to fill forms and discovery documents automatically, and then shared with the client from a distance.
The sales process is enhanced with the use of Equisoft/plan which integrates with the CRM to provide a powerful needs analysis and financial planning tool. The sharing of data and secure communications has helped advisors reduce the number of meetings traditionally required to make a sale – and to be able to conduct them more effectively in an online setting.
Digital sales became a lifeline for companies during the pandemic. We saw accelerated adoption of solutions like Equisoft/illustrate, Equisoft/apply, and our Agent and Client Service Portal solution. These tools enable clients and agents to see the particulars of a proposed insurance solution, create and submit an e-Application or make changes to an existing policy or client record online and
allow carriers to more easily respond to changes in the market or customer situations. Product changes and new product builds are quicker and easier with modern, rules-based PAS like Equisoft/manage.
Equisoft/manage integrates with internal and third party systems necessary to support policy administration even when employees are not at the office.
For some carriers, it made a big difference in enabling them to give outstanding service to their client base. One carrier opted to give hard-hit clients a premium holiday during the early days of COVID. Equisoft/manage made it easier to fulfil that business goal. And the initiative was rolled out in a week or two, versus the much longer time required if code-changes had to be made in the policy admin system.
4. How do technological solutions fit in the pandemic wealth management?
Equisoft/analyse for wholesalers and Equisoft/analyze for advisors enable all stakeholders to react more effectively to changing investment market conditions.
These comprehensive portfolio analysis solutions enable mutual fund wholesalers and investment advisors to easily analyze the performance of a client’s portfolio and recommend investment solutions that would be more effective given the current market.
5. Has the reliance of Insurers on digital solutions increased because of the pandemic?
Yes. We have seen a definite acceleration of existing plans for digital transformation. Insurers have long recognized the need to modernize and in most cases were preparing to do so over the next five plus years. But the demands of the pandemic forced them to find new ways to work at a distance.
New digital solutions were needed that would enable them to continue to sell to and serve customers even when it wasn’t possible to have in-person meetings. They sought to eliminate old paper-based and largely manual processes with streamlined, automated digital workflows.
As a result, we saw an increased implementation of front-end tools like quoting & illustration, e-appplication and portal solutions. And in some cases, carriers took the opportunity to begin the modernization of their legacy policy administration systems in order to be able to take advantage of their flexibility in product development and their ability to handle APIs that connect them to the new front-end tools
6. What is the biggest challenge in the digitization of these sectors?
We have seen a number of challenges to digital transformation:
The shift to digital sales has not been without it’s issues. Many companies are grappling with how to find the best solution to Direct-to-Consumer sales (D2C). Many report that most customers drop out of the sales process on a portal before completing an application. There is a renewed interest in hybrid solutions that overcome this issue by making agents available to help prospects through the process.
Connected to that there is an increased emphasis on agent and client digital experience. Today’s customer has heightened expectations for the quality of their interactions with any company. Those digital expectations have only grown since the pandemic began and so much activity moved online.
Insurers and wealth management companies are challenged to find ways to educate, build trust, rapport and empathy in online environments—especially since clients are being asked to share information about their most sensitive issues; their health and finances.
In addition, our research over the past two years has revealed a number of possible obstacles to effective modernization.
Many companies struggle to building a revenue positive business case for core system modernization. At some point many companies, knowing they need to modernize, will take a ‘leap of faith’ and began their modernization in the absence of provable ROI.
This can make it difficult to obtain executive approval and budget for some digital transformation initiatives.
Related to that is the larger issues of organization culture and the need for change management as companies evolve from traditional ways of doing business into today’s data-driven enterprises.
Underneath all of these challenges lies the issue of data. For all that it promises from AI to predictive analytics, many companies still struggle to access all of the vast volumes of their data. Much of it is trapped in legacy silos. And even when it’s available, executives report that they can’t trust it. There are too many sources of truth that just don’t agree with each other.
Converting and migrating data into formats and platforms where it is readily accessible in real-time and 100% accurate is a foundational initiative for all embarking on their digital transformation.
7. What is your vision for the company? Any specific future plans?
Equisoft is focused on continuing its global expansion as a digital solutions provider for the insurance and investment industries. The recent acquisition of UK investment and pension management solutions provider, Altus, provides us with new complementary offerings in the insurance and wealth space in Europe. Our partnerships with global companies like Broadridge and Refinitiv continue to expand our ability to help companies solve the biggest challenges in the industry.
At Equisoft, we believe that transformation is not an event but a journey. We envision a future where advisors, team members and all stakeholders are no longer held back by manual low-value tasks, but empowered and enabled to work at the highest level of their capability. And that’s why we work with our partners and industry stakeholders to push the development of innovative solutions to our clients.
We aspire to be the most preferred technology partner for insurers and financial institutions in APAC across their digital value chain. With our proven global track-record, we aim to partner with the life insurers and wealth management companies to make their digital transformation journeys more robust, scalable and customer-centric.