25. February 2021

“When it comes to digitalization, Switzerland’s insurance sector has some catching up to do”

Zeichenfläche 1

Insurance // Yves Krismer, Head of Consumer Goods and Services at the broker Kessler, sees the digital transformation as an opportunity for the company. Even though new players are disrupting the sector, trust and local roots remain key for corporate customers.

ti&m: Kessler has been around for more than 100 years.
How is the digital transformation affecting you? 

Yves Krismer: The role of a broker is increas­ingly moving from transaction-specific to consulting-based. Together with the digital transformation, this means that we have to be constantly reviewing our services. The central question is: where is the added value for our customers? The recent developments associ­a­ted with Covid-19 have clearly demonstrated the need for professional risk consulting in an increasingly complex environment.

What do you see as the biggest challenges when it comes to the digitalization of the sector? 
There are so many exciting technologies, like AI for example. But we don’t want to jump straight on board with every trend. We want to remain focused. Especially in this turbulent environment, our customers are looking for a reliable partnership. 

What role do you see brokers having in an increasingly digitalized and automated insurance sector? 
We see this change generally as an opportunity to optimize our various processes. There is definitely some catching up to do, especially in terms of communications with the insurers. Our business is based on trust, and per­sonal contact with our customers will remain as important as ever. 

What objectives do you want to achieve with your digital transformation long-term? 
We envisage that the new IT opportunities will simplify our standard processes, such as processing minor losses, and that this will enable us to provide value for our customers more effectively. 

How is Kessler using the opportunities of the digital transformation
to drive its own business forward? 

We have successfully implemented a number of projects. We have been completely paperless for more than three years now and are using electronic signatures in communications with our partners. We do not simply want to make our existing processes digital, but rather make our procedures more efficient and generate
additional value for our customers. 

What role do collaborations with integration platforms such as
“IGB2B for Insurers and Brokers” and Sobrado play for you? 

Both collaborations are very important to us. We have been very active within them for years for this reason, and try to share our experience as a leading risk, insurance and pension consultant. These developments are helping the Swiss insurance industry and our profession to become more efficient in how we work with the insurers — behind the scenes, so to speak. 

What opportunities does the digital transformation offer in terms of
your involvement with Marsh’s global network? 

We have been carrying out joint projects with our network partner Marsh for many years. Many projects such as blockchain-based cer­tificates are very promising and exciting. We can both benefit and learn from them. 

Less complex insurance products can increasingly be purchased directly online.
How much of a risk do such offers pose to you and how do you react to them? 

Many customers want comprehensive advice on risk and insurance matters. This kind of service requires extensive market expertise. With our target customers, medium to larger corporate customers, we therefore see less potential for purchasing via online platforms. In standard business, for example in individual motor insur­ance (B2C), policy purchases are considerably simpler, even if processing complex claims still requires manpower. 

How strong is the pressure to digitalize in the Swiss insurance sector, in your opinion? 
It depends on what we are comparing the Swiss insurance sector to. In contrast to other sectors such as the manufacturing industry or even in comparison to other countries, we do have some catching up to do. However, there is successful development happening in Switzerland. All of the big insurance companies and brokers see an opportunity in digitalization and are introducing the processes required to take advantage of it. 

How will InsurTechs and FinTechs and big data companies like Google, Amazon etc.
shape the market long term? 

This a question we are constantly asking ourselves, but these companies all have very different strategies. In terms of big data, the Swiss market is too small. The “GAFAs” of the world are already heavily shaping the market, particularly in the B2C area. But other large firms, like Tesla for example, are trying to break into new market segments. Things are going more slowly than expected, and likely hoped, for all of the companies. Which is why we are watching the scene very closely. 

How should companies with strong local roots react to these new challenges? 
We have local roots, but we compete world-wide. We follow the trends very closely with our network partner Marsh and the umbrella group MMC. We benefit from successful projects abroad and don’t have to strive to lead the way internationally ourselves. 

With regard to the digital transformation, what mindset do you need to be successful long-term?
You need to be willing to be constantly learning and to relish new challenges. With a positive attitude, you can see the digital transformation as an opportunity.

Yves Krismer

Yves Krismer has worked at Kessler for more than 20 years.  He is a member of the management board and is the company’s executive board member in charge of digitalization.