It is too easy to become depressed when reading current market news dominated by the legalities of Goldman Sachs operation and the convulsions in the euro-zone caused by the Trojan Horse that is the Greek economy, but when one looks beyond that there are some western economies that are showing that all is not lost for the next few years in the West.
Canada in particular is showing strong growth and extremely positive consumer sentiment. A good result for inflation in March, falling back from 1.6% to 1.4% has shown that the Canadian economy is staying one of the strongest in the G20. This is holding up investment confidence well above the levels seen across most of the western G20 nations. Business confidence is at the highest it has been since 2007; with 61% of executive chartered accountants responding that they were optimistic about the economy over the next twelve months according to the CICA/RBC (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants / Royal Bank of Canada) quarterly business monitor. This is way above the levels of similar surveys carried out in the major EU countries.
On the back of this positive sentiment, the insurance market remains confident. Europeans can only look with envy at the Canadian life and pension providers planning to increase their sales compared to ‘Old Europe’s’ problems in maintaining profitability during a severe downturn.
However, even a rising market can bring problems and one of the most significant for players in the Canadian Life and Pension markets remains the perennial question; how can you get new products into the marketplace quickly?
The answer lies in the correct alignment of people, processes and supporting technology. Without all of these factors optimised, the release of new products will be a slow cumbersome prospect.
People must be motivated to have a ‘make it happen’ attitude; seeing opportunities in the market and overcoming problems as fast as they arise. Processes need to be reviewed to make them streamlined and efficient; does there really need to be that many sign-offs and reviews for every proposal that emanates from marketing? Is there a budget for small trial runs of new product versions to test the appetite of the market?
These are the main issues for the Canadian Life and Pension providers at the moment. As they wrestle with them, they can comfort themselves with the thought that the rest of the world wishes they were in Canada’s place.
Head of Product