This week’s edition of Kurtosys Spotlight features Allianz’ Thorsten Heymann, the 2019 World InsurTech Report, our interview with Kames’ Mark Savage, Libra coin updates, and fund manager speed dating.

Digital Leader Spotlight: Thorsten Heymann, Global Head of Strategy at Allianz Global Investors

Thorsten HeymannThorsten Heymann has spent the best part of 11 years at Allianz Global Investors, where he has held a range of positions. Starting as the Head of Strategic Sales Planning and Steering, his role has evolved into the Global Head of Strategy, which he has held for two and a half years.

This umbrella term means that Thorsten is responsible for products, corporate strategy, and corporate branding and marketing as well as technological transformation. This places Thorsten as a leader in the digital marketing space; he regularly shares Allianz GI’s video content, event photos, and thought leadership pieces from LinkedIn, which highlight the company’s digital strategies worldwide.

One area which Allianz GI is committed to is Artificial Intelligence. Late last year, the company hosted its first ever London Hackathon. Looking to find an AI company to invest in and develop optimisation approaches, the company is determined to disrupt the investment decisions process through technological means. Thorsten acted as the host of the event, and has been featured in articles by such publications as Finextra as one of Allianz GI’s top digital spokespeople. 

Thorsten is part of our Most Influential Digital Leaders in Asset Management gallery, which we have recently updated. Check it out!

Featured Report: World InsurTech Report 2019

As promised in our last edition, it’s become that time of year to check out full roundups of what 2019 had to offer different segments of the financial world: what went well, or what went wrong, and what we can expect to see in the future. This report section will be full to the brim with hindsight and futurism musings for the next few weeks and months to come.

One of the leading research firms that constantly delivers with detailed and thorough content is Capgemini who, in collaboration with EFMA, compile an annual looking into the world of insurance technology, and 2019 is no different. And, in keeping, with their usual format, the companies aren’t just committed with the one handy document.

As you can see on this rather lengthy landing page, it functions very much like its own website to present chunks of the whole report in more digestible form. With a handy top toolbar, they give a rundown of what’s expected from this year’s document: various new players in the insurance market, the future of insurance through a shift from traditional roles, further forays into digital, collaborations between incumbents and insurtech businesses and specialised roles that will feature more in decades to come.

Besides the ability to download the report in full, there’s a more concise infographic which presents the main findings; most notably the want for a new insurance ecosystem from insurers and insurtech companies (and who is more keen), the level of digital maturity in traditional companies, and definitions of these new specialised roles we discussed briefly above: Supplier, Aggregator, and Orchestrator.

Elsewhere, these findings have also been repurposed in the form of a colourful video filled with quantitative and qualitative data and animated graphics for those more inclined to viewing explanatory videos. Here it is below:

There’s also plenty of related articles included on the page discussing digital disruption, adhering to the digital experience wants and needs of Gen Z and streamlined processes. As always, a swathe of information to sink your teeth into, but expertly purposed into many formats to suit personal preference and giving a full-on rundown of this year’s insurance market and how it has fared in the constant introduction of technology.

Industry Perspectives: Mark Savage, Kames Capital

Mark-Savage-headshotIn the latest of our interviews with industry professionals giving us their views on ever-changing business roles, Sam Shaw caught up with Mark Savage, Kames Capital’s Head of Distribution – UK & Ireland.

As an insurer-owned asset manager, Mark discusses how this influences their role as having a lower-risk management style, as well as the heritage of the Kames brand and how the distribution market has shifted in the past 20 years, From here, Mark discusses how the role has evolved into becoming more ‘professional’ rather than ‘glamorous’ – think about the popularity of lavish events, conferences, and offsites in exotic places; Mark instead believes that younger generations want their personal contact to be through different digital means, and aren’t as lucky to pursue personal connections in such places due to its more damaging reputation of the industry.

Delving more deeply into the technology side of things, Mark discusses the many perks of different mobile apps, such as Salesforce and the ability to track client behaviour on websites straight from your fingertips. He does, however, see that robos will not simply take over that human connection that should still very much exist in the fund distribution space.

As well as this, Mark talks about which parts of the process he sees as completely outdated and in need of an overhaul, and the one question that he wishes clients asked, but don’t.

You can read the complete review over on the Kurtosys blog.

Video in Focus: Speed Dating

Rather similar to Sam’s excellent interviewing above, but in a (slightly) different format is this video below, courtesy of FundCalibre, an independent online fund research agency free to investors.

Whilst speed dating in its intended format often throws up stories of cringeworthy moments, with hapless singletons spewing out short-and-sharp bursts of their life stories to completely new faces (I don’t envy you), instead this event thrown by the company is an annual thing whereby seven journalists spend seven minutes with fund managers to ask whatever they like.

Among the fund managers who participated in the event were representatives from funds including the AXA Sterling Credit Short Duration Bond Fund, Liontrust UK Micro-Cap Fund and Waverton European Capital Growth Fund.

Amongst the questions fired at the five include their favourite and worst jobs in their career history (including ironing, courier and even a band frontman), greatest achievement outside of work to date, and dream dinner party guests (dead or alive, we’ve all thought the answer to this question, too).

A lot of fun, and an informative and entertaining take on the life in and outside of work for heads in the fund management world.

Fintech News: Libra Problems

For fans of astrology and star signs etc, we’re (apparently) in the date zone of Libra, and fitting we see the return of Facebook’s attempted foray into cryptocurrency.

Remember that? The Libra coin was unveiled by Facebook back in June, along with its digital wallet Calibra. There was hefty coverage courtesy of such publications as the FT who reported the development of Libra being ongoing for the past 2 years or so, with a crack team assembled by ex-PayPal president David Marcus.

And in an assessment of where it’s headed now, well, it doesn’t seem to be going that well. BBC News has noted that PayPal itself, which was part of a collection of companies looking to launch the cryptocurrency (along with Visa, Uber and major venture capital firms), has already dropped out of this alliance.

Not that this is to do with their lack of belief or motivation about the project, but more to do with focusing their efforts on their own ambitions, albeit the Libra Association notes that the financial system of the project will have to be reassessed in PayPal’s absence. And given PayPal’s relatively trustworthy services, and the lack of trust for Facebook following the privacy scandal, people are certainly expressing concerns about how money and data will be protected.

And still there are regulatory hurdles that the cryptocurrency has to get over before it can proceed too, whilst the Libra Association’s first meeting of its governing body is due on 14 October. It’s all going on in camp Libra, so watch this space as to how it progresses.

Social Spotlight: TED Talks

Albeit we’ve already touched on the upcoming parodic DEADx events of the lang cat, this week’s social spotlight looks instead to its inspiration: the much-admired TED Talk, as outlined by finserv influencer Chris Gledhill below:

Blockchain has been a theme not explored for a while here, so we’re straight back with three informative talks about exactly that topic. Starting out with data scientist and consultant Neha Narula, who discusses the pros and cons of digital assets besides some introductory information you may be familiar with, next up is investor Mike Schwartz who discusses real-life uses of blockchain in bringing people together, and finally Bettina Warburg who focuses on the role of the blockchain as a secure storage tool.

Whilst companies are still getting to grips with use cases of blockchain for financial services, luckily there are currently some great blockchain experts and evangelists on hand to provide some excellent source material, as included in the Tweet above.

If you’d like to have news, people, a new website or articles featured here, please get in touch via Twitter or email us at marketing@kurtosys.com

Elliot Burr

Content Marketing Editor at Kurtosys
Fervently chatting about the future of funds and fintech.