Lex Sokolin, futurist and fintech entrepreneur, shared his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in insurance today. Key takeaways? Think digital-first, look for innovation in adjacent industries—and figure out how to capture human attention.

In a few weeks we’ll be launching the first season of the Accenture Insurance Influencers podcast. The podcast will feature interviews with some of the industry’s most profound thinkers, including Lex Sokolin, futurist and fintech entrepreneur.

In the three full episodes with Lex, he shares his experiences as a fintech entrepreneur. What are common mistakes that financial institutions make in trying to understand disruption, and how can new technologies transform the insurance value chain? How will artificial intelligence (AI) affect insurers—and consumers?

Check back in a few weeks for those episodes. In the meantime, here’s how Lex answered the four quickfire questions that we pose to all our guests.

What’s the biggest challenge facing insurance today?

I think it’s actually not the technology or the economics. It’s believing that change is possible. It’s believing that the disruption that’s happening in crypto and artificial intelligence and insurtech is going to have an impact over the long term.

I personally think it’s absolutely inevitable. And so as soon as the teams managing these businesses are able to own that and take actions to drive themselves in that direction, I think you’re going to have a spectacular transformation in the industry. But that is the minds and the hearts of the people running the industry, and that’s the biggest challenge today.

And on the flip side, what’s the biggest opportunity facing insurers today?

The flip side is exactly aligned with changing your mind. So if you change your mind, if you see what the future is based on, whether it’s Asian companies or what the Feds are building or how Facebook is teaching us to use the Internet––once you see what that future is, I think you see the opportunity of being digital-first, and as an incumbent, of being digital-first at scale.

I would point people most aggressively to look at the cash cows that they’re sitting on, like the asset management part of the premium portfolios today, and to find ways to take that and turn it into a digital-first business.

What trends should be on insurers’ radars?

For all different parts of the financial industry, whether you’re in insurance or in banking, I think the trend you should look for is not the one that everyone talks about. Instead, you should look at the other, adjacent industries, next to what you’re doing. If you’re focused on insurance sales agents, look at bank branches, look at robo-advisors. If you’re focused on underwriting models and trying to apply artificial intelligence, look at what happened in digital lenders and with credit underwriting in different geographies.

So there are lessons that we can learn, whether they come from payments and KYC AML, whether they come from regulation technology, and bring that back to your own industry and to your own company. And I think that type of surprise is how you create the most value.

What technology will have the greatest effect on the industry over the next 10 to 15 years?

The biggest shift that is happening across finance is that we’re being turned from a product manufacturing industry into a sales and distribution and customer journey industry. And that is completely counter to how most people grew up building companies over the last 30 years. The technology that has the greatest effect on the industry isn’t AI, not crypto, not automation. It’s simply the technology that captures human attention.

So if you’re figuring out where people spend their time, how they do it, how people are able to engage inside of platforms that provide for them—everything from toilet paper to movies to bank accounts. Capturing that human attention and finding ways to do that at scale, rather than just pushing products into the street, that’s really the key to figuring out the next 15 years.

Stay tuned for season one of the Insurance Influencers, where we’ll talk with Lex about disruption, innovation and navigating change. We’ll also dive deep into AI and what happens when machine learning meets human bias.

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