After the blockchain last week, today we’re diving in the Insurtech industry. Matthias de Ferrières, founder and CEO of the Stark group tell sus how he started his companies and what it means for him to be an entrepreneur.
Matthias, tell us more about yourself?
I founded my first company when I was 16. It was a community of Lego fans and we were organizing events on weekends. It was really fun and I learned a lot! But I sold it after a year to go back to my studies.
After that I worked for Arthur Andersen for about a year and then I wanted to learn english so I decided to move to Australia. I did several jobs there and I finally got a lawyer degree.
I then moved to Singapore to work for Axa. I started as a intern, and I ended-up as their CMO when I left.
What are you doing now?
So in 2013, digital was starting to boom and we had a product to acquire customers online. I decided to take it and built a company around it, this is how Stark Group started. Today the group has 3 businesses:
It is a marketing platform for insurance intermediaries
What does it mean for you to be an entrepreneur?
The challenge is that the insurance business is not interesting or sexy for anybody. To me this is a great opportunity as an entrepreneur.
I’m convinced that you need experience anyways, whatever the business you’re in. Entrepreneurship is really about knowing your industry inside out and understanding its needs and risks. Today my company works because I spent 15 years working like crazy in a company in this domain. You need 3 things:
What are you objectives in the coming months?
Today I’m very focused on MyInsurer. I have always bootstrapped my businesses and Stark Group has invested SGD400K in MyInsurer, but now is the time for us to raise more funds and hire different types of profiles.
I am very pragmatic: I know I am very good at knowing which products to build and how to sell them, but I need the right profiles to help use on other aspects. Our plan is to raise funds in September to be ready to deploy later in the year.
Agents and technology:Teamwork makes the dream work.
By Amir Sadiq | 17 Apr 2019
The debate on whether agents will be rendered obsolete by technology has dragged on for years. While it is easy to view it as a slugfest between the old guard and young upstart, both forces in fact share the same goal: Giving customers the assurance and protection that they pay for.
Speaking at the Asia InsurTech Summit 2019, IFPAS president Leong Sow Hoe said that consumers do not really care about fancy new technology or the interactive experiences if they cannot get the assurances that insurance products and services are supposed to deliver.
The human element
Mr Leong believes that agents still have a critical part to play in the insurance value chain as they can provide policyholders the assurances only a human touch can bring, by being present in times of crisis.
“At the end of the day a promise made is a promise kept. And when we deliver their cheques, when we deliver payments on hospital bills, we are there,” he said. “Even if there is death, disability or critical illness, we are there.”
Singapore Insurance Institute president and Chubb Asia Pacific regional head of agency development and incentives Jeanette Lim said that different types of products require varying levels of customer engagement.
She compared buying travel insurance and retirement plans to illustrate her point. Buying travel insurance online for a short holiday, bypassing the agent altogether, has become relatively common because of how quick and simple it is.
In contrast, purchasing something bulkier like a retirement plan involves navigating complex intricacies and weighing up the pros and cons of all available policies. Ms Lim said that this process would be far better served with an agent around to give advice.
Ms Lim was part of a panel at the summit alongside Stark Group CEO Matthias de Ferrieres and Huntington Partners partner digital Cristiano Pizzocheri that discussed opportunities and collaborations between AI and agents.
Empowering agents through technology
“We should think ‘human and digital’. Not ‘human or digital’ as that will do us no good,” said Mr Leong. “’Human and digital’ – where technology and online resources can complement the advice of a professional.”
The panel also unanimously agreed that technology should be used to empower agents.
“I think one way for us to really help our agents or partners is to make sure they are well versed in terms of technology,” said Ms Lim. “I think the education to make sure the agents adopt, embrace and adapt to technology is a critical mind-set change.”
“Many tools exist to help the agents organise themselves,” said Mr Pizzocheri. “What we have to do is to bring it all together and consolidate them to help the agents get their job done.”
He brought up AI chatbots that have been used by many online services in recent years. The chatbots can address simple questions customers might have, following which the query can be transferred to an agent should the conversation become more complex.
Mr de Ferrieres said that the most important thing for agents to have is data. He said that technology can be used to gather data for agents to generate leads and the meet the right people.
Matthias de Ferrieres to speak at the 20th Asia Conference on Bancassurance and Alternative Distribution Channels in Thailand
Stark Group and its disruptive solutions will be represented at the 20th Asia Conference on Bancassurance in Bangkok. Matthias de Ferrieres is invited to share his views on the Bancassurance has changed in the past years and how it embraced the Tech economy and the digital demand.
Innovation through new technologies is a key driver of change in the financial sector and this has led to immeasurable efficiency gains, even though these changes can initially be accompanied by uncertainty and doubt. The Bancassurance sector is no exception to such developments, with possibilities of new methods of service provision as well as greater opportunities for data collection, new product & services deployment.
Yet we dont observe much for the past years. What are the reasons ? Risk adverse governance, strict compliance, disorganisation, fear for innovation?