So, we are all getting used to working in a post GDPR world. Legislation that, at outset was predicted to be “light touch”; and we were assured, not aimed at our already well-regulated and managed UK market, in the end has turned out to cause far more upheaval than anyone could have predicted.
One of the consequences of the legislation is that brokers and consultants may feel the most sensible approach is to shy away from having anything to do with data. We simply recommend an insurer and then after that we can sit back and take the commission or charge a fee for any administration services.
In the world of corporate employee benefits, data remains the best way to understand not only the benefits but also to inform on the changing dynamics of the employers workforce. Data will help the adviser inform the employer of changes in any particular benefit, as well as better understand the
issues that the employer is currently facing, or is likely to face in the future.
In terms of the specific benefit issues, the insurer uses client data to interpret and price risk. The adviser can interpret and analyse this data to better inform the client on what is going on as well as helping
explain the insurer position or negotiate on terms based on the data insight.
At the scheme specific level, increasingly employers are looking for insight into trends and a better understanding of what is driving scheme performance. Leading advisers should not rely on the insurer to provide this insight, but to be able to perform the task themselves they will, by definition, need access to detailed scheme data.
But the data the company provides can say far more about the company than simply what the insurance costs will be. The membership data is a barometer of the health and wellbeing of the company as well as the workforce. Having access to good quality data is imperative.
Leading advisers will increasingly invest in tools and services driven by data analysis. Advisers will look at collecting data from multiple sources – not just insurance products, but health screens, wearables, EAP’s, and a whole host of other sources including payroll and absence management – which will in turn lead to the necessity to interpreting across these multiple lines of data.
Good advisers will be, and in some cases already are, investing heavily in building platforms that can collect data securely and in a compliant manner. To be able to interpret these multiple lines of data will require a combination of analytical tools and algorithms as well as the use of specialist expertise – both in the field of data analysis, and also actuarial skills.
The advisers that thrive will be those that move from a transactional and broking service to a consulting model where the advice and guidance to employers will be driven by what the data is saying.
As such brokers will be expected to invest heavily in secure data portals and analytical systems. The increased pace of technology will further involve automation of data collection, and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to manage data from multiple sources.
The increasing demands to have access to specialist resources, analytical skills and secure portals will potentially lead to further consolidation within the adviser community. In addition we will see the growth of an adviser outsource service where the adviser licences platforms and analytical tools from a specialist third party provider.
In a world where employers want to make sure that they get maximum value from their benefit programmes, having the data to evidence what is working well, and alternatively what is not working well will be imperative for brokers and consultants.
While the initial reaction to the legislation is one of avoid data, the best opportunity to develop client relationships will lie in the ability to understand more data and to be able to undertake deeper data management.
GDPR creates challenges for us all. While we may want to step back from the potential concerns that holding even more employee data may raise, there is no doubt that better management of data will give rise to better employer outcomes. Investing in tools and technology to make sure appropriately robust data management exists in a GDPR compliant manner will become a necessity.