Rick Huckstep on Digital Transformations

To give a short personal impression: let us know what are your top 3 books everyone today needs to read and top 3 tech gadgets one needs to have?

I’m a prolific reader and my current top 3 books are;

Four by Scott Galloway (available in Germanyin the USin the UKin Francein Italy and in Spain), an insightful perspective on Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. It’s a great read and challenges your view of these tech giants and the power they have amassed.

Next is, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (available in Germanyin the USin the UKin Francein Italy, and in Spain), which is the history of us humans over the last 70,000 years. Fascinating!

Finally, I have to include Tiger Woods in my top 3 (available in Germanyin the USin the UKin Francein Italy, and in Spain), the biography by Jeff Benedict.

 I’m still a massive fan of Tiger as a golfer and I hadn’t fully appreciated how prolific he has been as a golfer. Sadly, he is also a human being with his flaws and faults. I couldn’t put this one down!

You are one of the most known influencers on InsurTech. What makes you so successful and what kind of secret tips are you able to share?

I never set out to build a social media following of over 100K. In fact, I never set out to build a following at all, it just happened! It all started when I decided to embrace social media about 6 years ago. Up until, then I’d been a Luddite, but this was a self-inflicted blinker that was stopping me fully understanding the benefit and rewards of fully embracing social media.

I started engaging with LinkedIn; posting stories, leaving comments and making connections. One of my first connections was Bernard Lunn from Daily Fintech Advisors. He asked me if I wanted to write a blog about insurance for him as nobody back in 2015 was talking about insurance in Fintech. I was already an angel investor and mentor to tech startups and this gave me access to some of the early entrepreneurs in this space.

Since then, I’ve interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs, many of them before they became “famous”, and written over a 100 articles. As for a secret, I’d say that you have to put the effort in when it comes to social media. The more you put in, the more you get out.

Please tell us more about The Digital Insurer. Why did you build it and how has the community been doing?

The Digital Insurer is an online community that works together to accelerate the digital transformation of insurance. It was started by Hugh Terry, a lifelong insurance professional based out in Singapore. His vision was, and still is, to create the world’s most informed community built on the largest knowledge base for digital insurance. The number 1 go-to place for anyone who wants information and insight about our industry.

Hugh asked me to join the team in 2016 as their Chairman. Since then, the team has continued to grow, we’re now reporting on digital insurance from around the world and last November, The Digital Insurer hosted Livefest 2018, the world’s largest virtual conference on digital insurance.

We ran the event over 5 Friday’s in November 2018 providing 24 hours of live coverage, time-zoned for a global audience. We had over 11,000 registrations from 136 countries and featured live discussions, InsurTech and Insurance Innovation Awards and many examples of digital insurance in action. We’re already working on an even bigger event for Livefest 2019!

What is your analysis for the digital insurance ecosystem? What kind of trends and new use cases do you see?

I’ve said for the last 3 years that the insurance industry is going through a rapid evolution when it comes to embracing digital. It’s not disruptive in the way that Amazon or Uber impacted on their industries. And what we’re seeing is that InsurTech is going mainstream, just as Fintech has become part of the vernacular for financial services.

This was long overdue and it just needs a tech catalyst to break the inertia. InsurTech has provided enough of a prod that the agenda has shifted away from a heavily internalized focus and onto the customer and their needs and requirements. There is still some way to go but you are already seeing a shift in the incumbents away from the legacy mentality of massive aircraft carrier systems that take forever to implement and cost a small fortune. We are now seeing that (internal) IT is becoming less likely to be on the critical path when it comes to time to market or customer service.

What was the last insurtech or fintech that excited you and why?

I continue to be excited by Lemonade. I’ve got to know Daniel Schreiber, the CEO, well over the past couple of years and I genuinely rate him and the team they’ve built. Any investor in start-ups will tell you how important it is that the new business has the right leader and the right team. It’s probably more important than the solution they’re building. On the day that Lemonade launched in 2016, I posted an article I had already prepared with Daniel entitled “Lemonade are live: insurance will never be the same again!”. I still believe that.

A lot of traditional companies are struggling to adapt to the rapid changes we witness today. In your opinion, what do you think are the biggest chances for traditional companies to use digital transformation as a chance? What are the biggest hurdles and how should corporates overcome them?

This is a massive subject that is hard to condense into a few sentences, but simply, we are going to see some Blockbusters and Kodaks among the insurance incumbents. Those analogue insurers that fail to adapt and transform to a 21st-century digital world will simply disappear. You can see today that there is a separation in the marketplace between the old-world insurers who are still doing what they’ve always done and those who are turning their businesses inside out as they embrace a totally digital way of working.

IMHO, the biggest hurdle is culture. It is the attitude of the board that matters the most. Because they are going to have to manage expectations of shareholders and explain why they are investing in new operations at the expense of old, why they are cannibalizing safe high margin business, and why they are going to deliver a lower financial performance in the short term. It’s a matter of survival and not for the faint-hearted.

What would you recommend to young people that start their career today?

Picture yourself in 5 to 10 years time. What can you see in the picture? Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Are you happy? When you know what the picture looks like, make career choices that get you there. It is too easy to be distracted by the appeal of something immediate.

Stick to your vision of the future and make it happen. (That’s what I’ve told my kids, anyway!)

These days Rick Huckstep spend his time most in Southern Spain, on the border with Portugal.

“It’s a beautiful part of the world; friendly people with colorful culture, great weather, fantastic beaches and plenty of challenging golf courses”

“I’m a fierce Remainer and proud European and it makes me both sad and angry when I look at how the UK is tearing itself apart over Brexit.”

From all of us here in – a huge thanks to Rick!

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