EP 02 – Scott Hawkins – MD and Head of Insurance Research at Conning – A Lot of Minnows and a Few Whales


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Scott leads Conning’s Insurance Research unit. Over his 17-year career at Conning he has been the principal analyst for retirement and annuities. Scott is frequently a keynote speaker at major industry and client conferences. Before joining Conning, Scott spent 16 years with Skandia Group in the U.S. and Sweden providing strategic research on the retirement market and business innovation.

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InsurTech Amplified welcomed ⁠Scott Hawkins⁠, MD and Head of Insurance Research at ⁠Conning⁠ to the show. Our dialogue covered several thought-provoking areas, shedding light on the evolving landscape of the insurance industry.

We kicked off our conversation by delving into the value of security systems and sensors in buildings. Scott shared an intriguing anecdote from his time in Japan, where simply having a sticker and installing sensors on his house added substantial value to his property. We further explored the significance of water damage and its frequency compared to fire damage, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to mitigate this pervasive risk.

Our discussion then transitioned to the changing dynamics between InsurTech startups and traditional insurance companies. Initially driven by the disruptive innovation narrative, startups aimed to replace traditional processes and agents with virtual platforms. However, as funding decreased, their focus shifted towards becoming enablers and supporters, showcasing sustainable business models and revenue generation.

The conversation took an exciting turn as we explored the management of assets and investments within insurance companies. Recognizing the massive balance sheets that insurance companies operate, we delved into the need for innovative approaches to optimize investment strategies. I highlighted the potential for technology-driven solutions to enhance efficiency and success in this crucial aspect of insurance operations.

Our dialogue later centered on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the insurance industry. I found it intriguing that technology professionals working on AI implementation expressed concerns about the potential transformation and elimination of jobs within their organizations. We also touched upon the vital issue of hidden biases in AI algorithms, prompting a discussion about the emerging field of auditing firms that specialize in evaluating and managing these biases.

Towards the end, we briefly touched upon the growing popularity of chat AI and its implications for the insurance sector. I found our conversation to be highly enlightening, expanding my understanding of the evolving relationship between InsurTech startups and traditional insurers, the significance of asset management, and the ethical challenges arising from AI integration in insurance.

Overall, out discussion with Scott Hawkins provided invaluable insights into the multifaceted intersections between insurance and technology. It reinforced the importance of proactive risk management, the evolving roles of InsurTech startups, the optimization of asset management strategies, and the need for ethical considerations in the implementation of AI.

Some of the topics that Scott covered:

  • Where research topics emanate and some of the biggest tech trends of the past three decades
  • Product and value chain innovation
  • Enabling underwriters to focus on high-risk/high-value scenarios
  • The importance of risk and investment management to insurers
  • How AI changes the processes and the people that are hired to do those processes

Some other titles we considered for this episode:

  1. Our Staff Has to Keep Evolving
  2. Instead of Being Disruptors, They Want to Be Enablers
  3. How Do You Speed Up That Claims Process?
  4. I’m Putting On My Innovation Hat
  5. The Stone Dropping Into a Still Lake

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