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An Interview with Mathews George, Head of IT, MetLife Australia

Tala Jahangiri, Journalist, FST Media, 02 Feb 2011
Jahangiri: How close is the insurance sector to automating end-to-end claims online, i.e. from submission, to facilitating tracking and payout?


George: Making the claims process simple and transparent to the customer is paramount to comforting them when they need it the most. I believe the insurance sector is just a step away from end-to-end automation of claims. In fact MetLife launched online claims in the fourth quarter of 2010.


To protect the interests of the customer there is usually a manual check before delivering the decision and commencing the payment process. I believe that there’s a paradigm shift that the Underwriting department has been through and that the Claims area is now working on.


Jahangiri:  What is the next generation of customer channels in the insurance industry?


George: The ubiquitous access to services through portable devices that banks have offered for a while has just started permeating through to the insurance industry. Although this is not ‘next generation’ in its true sense, we will start to see these technologies be in the insurance spotlight in the near future. Social networks is the other channel that is gaining recognition as customers are giving weight to peer group recommendations apart from their own research for competitive products.


Jahangiri: How is MetLife responding to the increasing customer demand of real-time interaction with insurers?

George: Needless to say that with the advent of social media instant gratification has become the norm. If it's not real time, it's not worth the time. At MetLife we had online submission and tracking ofapplications and claims for some time now. And we also deliver real-time decisions through our online applications. We've recently launched online claims with a manual review of the assessment. Once we accumulate adequate statistical evidence to give us comfort that the system is making the right decision for the customer, we will be providing an online decision for some of our claims. Over the course of this year, we would enable self-service portals aimed at both our business partners and their customers.


Jahangiri: From an IT perspective, what’s the next ‘big thing’ we can expect to see in the wider insurance landscape?


George: I can see a couple of things on the horizon. Unfortunately with Paul the ‘octupus’ not around, I haven’t been able to pick the next big thing to put my bets on. I think commoditisation of insurance products will be something to look out for. By that I mean simply the insurance products & process of purchasing it so that the customer can refer to a standardised table to compare products across providers.


Jahangiri: What are your top IT development priorities for the year ahead?


George: At MetLife we believe in ‘One Team One Focus’, so our IT development priority is very much aligned to this motto. The top three priorities are –


a)    Enable our suite of technology offerings for our business partners and their customers.
b)    To improve customer intimacy, we are also investing in an insurance industry data model to leverage and reuse what already exists rather than starting from scratch.
c)    Self-service portals aimed at both our business partners and their customers.


Jahangiri: From a technology perspective, what are some of the challenges preventing the insurance sector from achieving a single-customer-view?


George: I think the main challenge preventing a single-customer-view for an insurance company is where they fit in the value chain. In a group risk scenario the insurer may not have access to the customer details, except for cases beyond the authority of the administrator that were referred to them. Even though the insurance company may have the platform product provider. Meaning that by the end everyone has a piece of the puzzle, but not the full picture.


From a technology perspective I think the challenges are twofold.


First, over time insurance companies would have built or acquired an assortment of systems that have their own definitions and structures making it a sizeable task to bring the information together to provide this view.


Secondly, justifying the benefits of such a project to the company’s earnings is usually more difficult than let’s say an online application that taps into a new channel or reduction in maintenance cost through means like virtualisation.


Jahangiri: What are your thoughts on cloud computing; and what do you see as the key security challenges for organisations embracing a cloud infrastructure?



George: Cloud computing is an option that should be considered while making any IT investment decision. But the security, risk and governance considerations that would generally apply for any other outsourcing arrangements should be given reasonable thought before making a decision. The challenges for an organisation will be specific to the nature of their business and policies around IT security, risk and governance. However, we should be aware that certain policies may be implemented differently, such as through an application control rather than a physical control. So keep an open mind.


Jahangiri: How closely aligned is MetLife’s local technology roadmap with that of the global group and how have you tailored it to the Australian market?


George: The IT roadmap for the country is based on the local requirements. However, the regional / international group through investment governance ensures that there is leverage and reuse across the countries thereby creating a broader technology roadmap. For this reason our local technology is tailored for the Australian market and at the same time closely aligns with our regional/international roadmap.


Jahangiri: How is technology changing your customer’s insurance consumption habits?


George: Customers are spending more time online, accessing the services they need at their own convenient time and place. We in turn have to constantly monitor these trends and ensure that we are ready to support and enhance the customer experience through the channels that they prefer to use.


Jahangiri:  Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?


George: Think big! Thinking big brings in visibility, fosters collaboration and helps to concentrate effort when and where it matters the most. It also gives a greater sense of pride and satisfaction when the broader goal is achieved.

An Interview with Mathews George

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Financial services movers and shakers: Asia monthly wrap
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Financial services movers and shakers: New Zealand monthly wrap
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Financial services tech predictions 2013: Asia
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Financial services tech predictions 2013: Australia & New Zealand
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Banks under threat from Google, Apple
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

OCBC taps youth psyche with game ‘world first’
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Harte, Lark redefining channel strategy for banking
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Financial services movers and shakers: Australia monthly wrap
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Banking CIOs: adapt or vanish
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Citi accelerates regional securities presence
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Financial services movers and shakers: Asia monthly wrap
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Financial services movers and shakers: NZ monthly wrap
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

ANZ tech consolidation no threat to NZ IT jobs
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Quality trumps speed in bank customer service
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Technology the lifeline for insurance in Asia Pacific: Ovum
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Standard Chartered launches ‘world-first’ dual-purpose credit card
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

NFC necessary but challenging for Hong Kong banks: Analyst
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Budgets hinder bank tech innovation in 2013: Ovum
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Pressure mounting on technology for Asia Pacific clearing: Citi
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Banks targeting the unbanked face telco threat
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Mandatory online privacy breach reporting to increase banks’ cost, risk
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Customer education the key battleground for financial security in Singapore
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Banking CIOs responsible for video marketing
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

EXCLUSIVE: Technology trumps people in safe banking – Rogue Trader
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

OCBC partners with PlayMoolah to address child financial literacy
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Payments chiefs prepare for RBA challenge
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

DBS branches to showcase student technology innovation
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Mobile applications and data analytics shape the future for banking
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Legislation driving technology innovation in Super
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Movers and shakers at ANZ
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Online and mobile shaping the future for Super funds
Byline: Jessica Fell, FST Media

Making finance fun: Gamification, the new frontier of customer engagement
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Artificial Intelligence leading the way for financial services technology innovation
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Banking chiefs identify game-changers in financial services
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

IT cadet program providing dividends for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Technology and reputation key to navigating through market volatility: NAB
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

The future of the banking branch: nimble, customer-focused and stylish
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Westpac launches new tablet app
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Analysts positive on CBA’s bold hardware play
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

CBA becomes a technology vendor
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Online insurance first to feel the bite of commoditisation
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Innovation without focus on customer experience a ‘pointless’ exercise
Byline: Matthew Sainsbury, FST Media

Facilitating the Social Media Conversation
Byline: By Alyson Mitchell, Journalist, FS ...

Zurich appoints new Executive General Manager of SME
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury, Senior Journ ...

Technology places CBA into top 100 global brands
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury, Senior Journ ...

Business Intelligence key to beating competition from Google, Paypal
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury, Senior Journ ...

Myanmar: Asia Pacific’s new financial market?
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury, Senior Journ ...

Technology core to Narev’s Bank of the Future
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury and Alyson Mi ...

Demystifying the Big Data hype
Byline: By Matthew Sainsbury, Senior Journ ...

Visa drops card processor after breach
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

CBA makes it easier for businesses over Easter
Source: East & Partners

Mobility, BI top priorities for ANZ CIOs: Gartner
Source: Hamish Barwick, CIO Australia

Change makes Teachers largest mutual bank
Source: Eric Johnston, The Sydney Morning Herald

MLC MasterKey Business Super upgrades clearing house
Source: Rachel Davis, Financial Standard

DBS to test Indonesian openness with $7.2 bln takeover
Source: Saeed Azhar and Neil Chatterjee, Reuters

CIMB agrees to buy certain RBS businesses in Asia-Pacific
Source: Anette Jonsson, FinanceAsia

HKEx to invest HK$3b on platform upgrade
Source: Oswald Chen, China Daily

HSBC Singapore axes over 100 jobs
Source: The Jakarta Post

Asia-Pacific corporates boost utilization of HSBCnet mobile service
Source: Mridula Sudharsan, The Asset

Maybank Singapore launches Manchester United Platinum Visa cards
Source: Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah, Bernama

OCBC launches “Pay Any Card” service
Source: Thomas Zink, Banking & Payments Asia

Bank Negara Indonesia taps voice biometrics for password resets
Source: Finextra

Metrobank Card implements FICO solution to combat fraud
Source: Meghna Mukerjee, Banking & Payments Asia

AMP spends $87m more on IT
Source: Liz Tay, itnews

Security breach risk for Kiwi cardholders
Source: Lois Cairns, stuff.co.nz

Paymark, phone firms introduce mobile pay
Source: Tom Pullar-Strecker, stuff.co.nz

The little bank that could
Source: Rob Stock, Dominion Post

ATM scam at $1m and rising
Source: Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald

Money transactions to become quicker
Source: Tom Pullar-Strecker, stuff.co.nz

Visa drops ‘Global Payments’ credit card processor
Source: Time

Five things you need to know about Near-Field Communications
Source: Lauren Brousell, CIO NZ

7 habits of innovative IT leaders
Source: Rob Preston, InformationWeek

Asia-Pacific corporates boost utilisation of of HSBCnet mobile service
Source: Mridula Sudharsan, The Asset

NAB creating best practices for vetting Cloud providers
Source: John Adams, Information Management

ANZ sets its sights on Burma
Source: Asian Banking & Finance

Sutton ditches CBA in favour of BoQ
Source: Russell Quinn, PerthNow

Ignore Big Data at your peril: Deloitte
Source: Diana Nguyen, Computerworld Australia

Cybercrime a growing risk for FS firms – PwC survey
Source: Finextra

Banking via mobile phone to become the norm
Source: George Liondis, Australian Financial Review

Pay your credit card bills with OCBCs pay any card service
Source: Singapore Business Review

J.P. Morgan Asia chief exits
Source: Alison Tudor, The Wall Street Journal

JPM expands reach of mobile banking platform
Source: The Asset

Citi Private Bank names Sameer Kaul as India boss
Source: Rupert Walker, Finance Asia

Citibank Singapore launches instant online installment loans
Source: Melissa Aw, Yahoo!Finance Singapore

BNP Paribas launches Cortex FX electronic trading platform
Source: Oliver Jones, The Asset

The best iPad banking apps
Source: Olivia LaBarre & Bryan Yurcan, Bank Systems & Technology

HSBC staying in Kingdom
Source: Seetalavajit Sabayjai, The Nation

ATM scam escalates
Source: Sarah Harvey, stuff.co.nz

ASB brings back three ex-staffers as executives; one as CFO, and two to newly created positions
Source: Gareth Vaughan, interest.co.nz

Rabobank appoints new chairman, director
Source: Roeland Van Den Bergh, stuff.co.nz

Westpac tech chief comes out swinging
Source: Paul Smith, The Australian Financial Review

Checking a bank balance on your phone, no log-in needed
Source: Ann Carrns, The New York Times

NZ ready for mobile and NFC payments, says MasterCard
Source: CIO New Zealand

Mobile banking pays small merchants
Source: Source: Jessica Gardner, The Australian Financial Review

Banks’ payments ‘pay day’ under threat: report
Source: Australian Banking & Finance

The CIO transformation challenge
Source: Kevin Noonan, Technology Spectator

Harnessing enterprise social networks
Source: Rebecca Merrett, CIO Australia

Exclusive video interview with Standard Chartereds Global Head of Channels Technology
Source: FST Media

NAB bolsters payments systems
Source: Liz Tay, itnews

Customer engagement ranks as top challenge for insurers
Byline: By FST Media

Tech chiefs to convene, share insights on trends and challenges
Byline: By FST Media

Social media key to super reinvention
Byline: By Michael Pollack, FST Media

Further Westpac job cuts likely
Byline: By Michael Pollack, FST Media

New thinking required for BYO device security
Byline: By Michael Pollack, FST Media

Leading IT executives share insights on emerging trends: Hong Kong’s Technology and Innovation – The Future of Financial Services
Byline: Michael Pollack, FST Media

Pioneer takes the plunge into social media
Byline: By Michael Pollack, FST Media

New CIO at Westpac announced: restructure a sign of the times?
Byline: By Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Socialising banking: unravelling the complexities of engagement
Byline: By Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

CBA throws down the payments gauntlet
Byline: By Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Innovating from within: the power of employee engagement over technology
Byline: By Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Disconnect between IT and management revealed
Byline: By Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Industry standards must keep pace with Cloud adoption
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Internal cultural shift critical to cloud success: ANZ Wealth and Westpac
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Tighter risk control needed for banks, says rogue trader
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Achieving multi-channel delivery systems ranked number one in NZ
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

CIO shake-up at BT Financial and IAG
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media

Our peers had outperformed us: NAB
Byline: Melanie Timbrell, FST Media




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