LSBF Great Minds: tech innovations driving a dramatic change in client interaction, says former CEO JLT Employee Benefits

Former CEO of JLT Employee Benefits Mark Wood has said that the development of innovation and technology has completely transformed the insurance sector over the last ten years.

Taking part in London School of Business and Finance’s (LSBF) Great Minds Series, Mr Wood said: “It sounds like an oxymoron, but innovation is a constant in almost every sector. You look at the way in which we use technology today, relative to just a decade ago. For example, we have a million people who use their iPhones to access their pension records. [Technology] is an astonishing thing.”

“We give people the ability to model what their pension will be in ten or 20 years, just by using the screen on their iPad; compare that with just a few years ago when communicating with an insurance company would have required a form to be filled out. It’s driving a dramatic change in the way we interface with clients.”

JLT Employee Benefits is part of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group, one of the world's leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits. The group has offices in 39  territories with over 10,000 employees.

Mr Wood also spoke about big data and explained how JLT benefits from using it. “We now have the technology to sift through that data and derive information from it. In insurance, you’re often insuring people against the consequences of dying at an inconvenient time. We try to predict mortality by the characteristics of an individual. We collect data, analyse it so that it becomes information, and use it as the basis for pricing an individual’s life insurance contract.”

Mr Wood went on to discuss the importance of education and, more specifically, professional qualifications. “What I was told by my teachers as I left my school and went to university was that I would learn how to think,” he said.

“In a sense, the core of education really is how we use our minds, how we resolve problems having amassed a certain amount of knowledge and then, as we embark on our career, we accumulate experience which is the practical application of that knowledge.”

“Professional education - achievement of a standard - is really a hygiene factor,” Mr Wood added. “Individuals differentiate themselves in the way that they apply their qualifications, so professional qualifications are fundamental in order to get to the launch point for a career.”

Mr Wood also took the time to offer advice to those studying at LSBF. “When you think about your career and how you choose your career – I’ve been to the office ten thousand times – that is a huge amount of time. Think very carefully about what it is that inspires you, what drives you, what motivates you, because you’re going to do this for a long time. Make sure you’re doing something that you really get.”


LSBF Great Minds Series 

As well as offering programmes dedicated to fostering leadership skills, LSBF also endeavours to provide students with insight and inspiration through a number of innovative resources. One of these initiatives is the LSBF Great Minds Series: a collection of video interviews with leading business and political leaders promoting debate on education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy.

The video series started in 2011 with a conversation with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, followed by an interview with former Education Secretary Lord Kenneth Baker. In 2012, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group said that universities worldwide should become hubs to boost entrepreneurship and inspire self-starters to develop their own businesses. In 2014, LSBF spoke to Will Butler-Adams from Brompton Bicycle, Guy Hayward-Cole from Nomura Bank International, with former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, entrepreneur and investor Deborah Meaden, Google UK sales director Kevin Mathers and BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie.

Kicking off 2015, LSBF hosted interviews with Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian Media Group; Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK; Kevin Costello, CEO of Haymarket Group; Amy McPherson, CEO of Marriott Hotels Europe; veteran BAFTA-winning broadcaster Jon Snow; and, most recently, live chats with Kevin Ellis, Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Claudine Collins, Managing Director of MediaCom UK, and Robert West, Partner at Baker & McKenzie.

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