Today’s profile comes from Keith Stonell from Guidewire. Let’s find out more about him and Guidewire.
Our questions are in bold.
1. Who are you and what’s your background?
I am 30 years young in FinTech. Started in consulting and then tech sales. Insurance is relatively new for me though, as I only joined Guidewire two years ago. The main draw of the industry for me is the idea of bringing general insurance, which is sometimes seen as old fashioned, into the 21st century. It’s a big challenge, but an exciting one!
2. What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
As managing director, I spend at least half of my time in front of customers. Because our software is all about making life easier for our customers and their customers, their needs are at the centre of what we do.
3. Can you give us an overview of your business?
In essence, we provide software to the General insurance industry. Our main product is Guidewire InsuranceSuite, which provides the core systems (policy administration, billing, and claims management) insurers need to conduct their most critical operations. We also have products which provide support for data management, business intelligence, anytime/anywhere access, and guidance and monitoring. So, all in all, quite a range! The idea behind it is that the software is both flexible and scalable to allow customers to make the most of it and to transact business how they want to. We’re particularly proud to be both specialist and global, aiming to localise all our software to respond to a wide variety of international regulatory, language, and currency environments. That we have a successful implementation track record doesn’t hurt either!
4. Tell us how you are funded.
We’re publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol GWRE since early 2012.
5. Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
With the growth of technology came the growth of customer expectation, and the insurance industry was beginning to suffer because of outdated, inflexible legacy systems. Guidewire was founded to help solve these problems by improving an insurer’s ability to provide high quality customer service, increase market share, and lower operating costs. Technology has evolved, but the problem remains, as there are still many legacy systems in operation today. These solutions hamper an insurer’s ability to respond and transform their business to meet ever-changing customer demands. The solutions that Guidewire brings to the market play a fundamental role in supporting insurers as they strive to satisfy those demands.
6. Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Our clients commonly include General insurance organisations of all sizes and in all lines of business – more than 180 of them globally at last count. In Europe we have over 30 customers across eight countries. We operate via a software licensing model and are very customer-focused.
7. If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
Attitudes. Insurance in Europe is perceived as lagging behind the rest of the financial services industry. I’d like to see companies become more innovative. I look forward to seeing a transformation of the insurance IT market by CIOs to better meet the expectation of the consumer. It’s time for a serious game of catch-up, and we should all be ready to play.
8. What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
One word – omnichannel. Everyone is looking for a seamless digital experience and omnichannel is absolutely crucial to this. Even the biggest players in the finance industry struggle to provide consistency of process across all channels for every customer transaction – a joined-up service that is available how and when the customer wants to use it.
9. What phone are you carrying and why?
I have an iPhone 5 – for me the ease of use makes it the best option out there.
10. Where do you get your industry news from?
Insurance Times and Post are essential reading for me. Unfortunately I don’t usually have a lot of time to pore over the print version, but I do pay close attention to their daily alerts, which summarise the top news in one email.
11. Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
For insurance news, Callum Brodie, News editor of Post (@PostCallum).
For cutting edge tech, Tim Bradshaw, senior technology reporter at the FT (@tim).
And for general insurance insight, you can’t really beat Lloyds (@LloydsOfLondon).
12. What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
I’m watching the developments in mobile banking with great interest; for example, fingerprint technology to access your bank account. This is revolutionising how we use banks and it’s great to see how the traditional names are adapting. We should be seeing more innovation like this in the insurance sector too.
13. Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Firstly, I think self-service is going to keep on growing, as it is becoming easier and easier to have everything automated over digital channels. I also think there will be more opportunities for the insurance market to get to know their customer more intimately. This will open so many doors for insurers to attract them further and earn their loyalty. Finally, the demands of the millennial generation will become even louder. A WhatsApp-type chat service to provide a more instant dialogue between the insurer and customer is not such a far-fetched notion these days. And I think those digital attitudes aren’t confined to the millennials only. We need to wake up to how all kinds and ages of consumers are rapidly raising their expectations on service quality and responsiveness.
If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s more information on this page.