In Profile

A Conversation With Denise Garth


by Carolyn Ellis

Ms. Ellis is Features Editor for Advisor Magazine. Connect with her by e-mail:

Majesco is a global provider of core insurance software and consulting services, delivering core insurance system products and data and digital services.

In its own words, it is a company ‘focused on transformation as a path to renaissance’, from developing ways to assess customer experience to the development of digital-readiness. We talked with Denise Garth, SVP of Strategic Marketing, about the renaissance she sees for the industry and the growing pains that will come with this rebirth.

L&HA: As fundamental and essential as your products and services are, some readers may need an introduction to Majesco.
DG: We serve the life, annuity and group insurance markets, as well as the P&C side. We provide core systems, data and digital solutions including policy and underwriting, billing, claims, digital, data and distribution management solutions, with distribution management and digital functions near and dear to agents and brokers. We have over 150 clients worldwide, but our heaviest footprint is in North America, primarily in the U.S.

L&HA: You’ve been blogging about the renaissance of insurance, noting that while we associate the original Renaissance with great strides in art, music, and science, it was, in fact, a time of intense change. What are the correlations for the insurance industry?
DG: In a six-part series that started last July, I have blogged that this is a unique time for the insurance industry. In research we completed and published this year, we discovered three factors that are driving a new set of expectations, innovations, and competition.

The first factor is characterized around people, the changing market demographic, with changing risk profiles and customer needs and shifting customer expectations.

The second is around technology and emerging technologies, like IoT, wearables, cognitive computing, and drones and the explosion of new data.

The third factor is around market boundaries with a set of new competitors, shifting and expanding channels and market boundaries between industries.

In the past, where insurers may have been in a silo-perspective as an industry, insurance may be considered part of the purchase in other industries … like automotive where some companies are including insurance within the purchase of a car.

L&HA: Is this part of the industry transformation you foresee?
DG: Historically we’ve been product-driven. Today, we need to be customer-driven. What does the customer really want in a product?

It isn’t about whether or not agents, financial planners, or brokerage houses are going to be around, it’s about a multi-channel environment. People will want to leverage different channels, so they may be working with a financial planner to understand what all their needs are and make the initial purchase of insurance, but they may want to use a mobile app or portal off the insurer website to pay their bills or service their needs.

In the past it was all about the product: creating a product, underwriting it, servicing it, and eventually providing the client’s payout. Opportunities for service interaction were generally limited to a change in address, beneficiary, or premium.
Today it’s also about preventive measures that offer tremendous customer engagement and service options. How do you lead a healthy life that extends your lifespan? That’s where wearables come in.

As an example, John Hancock rolled out the Vitality products that reward customers with savings and discounts on premiums and rewards for healthy living. This approach creates a different engagement with customers and with agents and brokers.

L&HA: As longevity increases, insurers are meeting the needs of multiple generations.
DG: Our recent research laid out five key demographics: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation-X, and Generation-Z. Our products and systems have been primarily built for the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers, the aging generations, and to some extent the Millennials.

Recently we saw the launch of Haven Life. It’s a startup offering term insurance, done online in a quick period of time. The policy can be fully underwritten for a large amount

We now have to think about how our systems are going to support Millennials and future buyers of insurance represented in the Gen X and Gen Z. This need is emerging rather quickly.

L&HA: Is there a specific example we could tie to this concept?
DG: I can give you an example from some research we will preview at our conference, the Renaissance of Insurance, in Atlanta this month. It’s around customer expectations and demographics. In the consumer-based research, we asked people how easy it is to research, buy and get service from a number of different entities.

At the top of the list of being “easy to do business with” is online retailers, like an Amazon. No. 2 is national retail stores, like Walmart. No. 3 is local retail stores that you interact with, and No. 4 is mobile phone providers. Banks are next, then streaming TV, video, and music service.

These are followed by cable TV providers and then credit card rewards and frequent flyer programs. The bottom two? The very last one is insurance for life and annuity. Next to last is auto, home and renters insurance. The perception of customers is that insurance is not an easy place to research, buy, or get service as compared to their experiences with other types of companies. This likely has tremendous impact on whether they will do business altogether.

L&HA: Do you think advisors will find these changes exciting or intimidating?
DG: Either reaction is possible. Changing customer expectations and needs create an opportunity. Personal service will still be very important, but it may not always be face-to-face.

To succeed financial planners will need the ability to interact with customers in a multi-channel environment, but there has to be a sense of consistent customer experience. Nobody can stand on their own. It’s a different environment, where the customer is in control.

L&HA: You also blog about new entities that the insurance industry will need to succeed.
DG: Today there are new entities emerging quickly, aggregators and compare sites. Other new companies are combining distribution with some pricing and maybe some underwriting… an MGA or MGU type of organization. It’s really the deconstruction of the value chain.

Recently we saw the launch of Haven Life. It’s a startup offering term insurance, done online in a quick period of time. The policy can be fully underwritten for a large amount, and they’ve integrated external data searches to do underwriting in real time. Haven Life’s simplified product is targeted to the Gen X’s, Gen Z’s, and the younger Millennials. They communicate to their niche market, and they make it fun.

L&HA: For retail distribution, we’ll see individuals with new skill sets succeed.
DG: Yes, we’ll see technology-savvy financial professionals who can interact via a portal, website, or mobile phone, texting, messaging, and social media. There’s a different kind of interaction and expectation with the newer generations that will be the purchasers of insurance, and also the sellers of insurance.

L&HA: You predict we’ll see sales go in a positive direction?
DG: For the life and annuity industry, statistics have shown a steady decline in the purchase of insurance since the 1970s and ‘80s.

Millennials and Gen’s-X and Z know their parents have insurance. But that stuff is so complicated. What do I really need? Do I really need coverage for 20 years?

Today insurance isn’t easy to research and acquire, and life insurance takes forever to get underwritten. When we can simplify that so it seems as easy as an Amazon experience, you’ll likely see an increase in insurance sales. With these changes, factors and disruptors converging, we expect a rebirth in a new playing field and a new paradigm. There’s a huge opportunity ahead. ◊