Life insurers know that technology is one of their biggest challenges to capitalizing on the enormous market appetite for life insurance and annuities. And they don’t feel ready to meet that challenge. New survey data from LIMRA and Boston Consulting Group revealed that insurance executives are falling short of their own goals from a technology standpoint.

Bryan Hodgens is corporate vice president, distribution and annuities, member benefits, for LIMRA and LOMA. He shared the survey data during a session at the recent LIMRA Distribution Conference in Fernandina Beach, Fla. Insurers are no doubt feeling overwhelmed by the rapid growth and changes with technology, Hodgens told InsuranceNewsNet this week. Artificial intelligence is one area of massive potential that many insurers are tapping into, he added.

“You think about chatbots, voice automation, voice recognition. This is all AI technology that’s been around for a few years,” Hodgens explained. “Some companies have made investments in it and others are still making investments in it. So I think that’s where you see some of these executives saying they still have that challenge.”

So much growth, so little time

LIMRA sales projections show no letup in sales, at least on the annuity side. That means insurers not only need to get their technology right, but also need a strong talent base to grab a piece of the pie. “Talent management” ranked just behind technology as a top challenge listed by insurance executives in the LIMRA-BCG survey. “Growth” ranked as the top overall challenge as executives ponder how to capitalize on opportunities.

“There is obviously a lot of growth opportunity with all this automation,” Hodgens explained. “So they see that as an opportunity and challenge at the same time. The investments that they’ve made to this point. That’s a challenge in trying to see is that yielding more growth? Are they starting to see the return on those investments that they’ve been making?”

Insurers face a twofold problem in turning over talent in the industry. For starters, the perception of an insurance career isn’t great in comparison to other industries. In “desirability,” a career in insurance ranked ninth on a scale where a 10 is least desirable, the LIMRA-BCG survey found.

Secondly, the need to drive technology change and growth means different skill sets are needed. Insurers needed digital-focused people with creativity and critical thinking skills. In other words, the kind of skills most other industries are seeking.

“We’ve got to do a better job as an industry to help attract this next generation of talent,” Hodgens said. “Finding new talent through reassessing the hiring process and the job requirements and developing programs to rescale and upskill talent, maybe that’s existing in your firm, that’s really important going forward.”

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