Julien Alzouniès, Chief Operating Officer, describes Marsh France’s pursuit of operational excellence and simplified, digitalised insurance processes...
With a rich and far-reaching history that extends to more than 130 countries over the course of almost 150 years, Marsh’s reputation as an insurance innovator has been crystallised by several notable achievements: inventor of the ‘self insurance’ concept, the first broker to use on-site risk experts, creator of ‘space’ life insurance for astronauts, and much more. When we spoke to Julien Alzouniès, COO of Marsh France & BeLux, he made it clear that the company’s innovative, adaptive and thoroughly modern approach to the industry is helping it optimise digital processes and achieve a perennial goal: operational excellence.
Coming from a long career as a consultant, Alzouniès joined Marsh France in 2018 at a time when the team consisted of only 20 people. Recognising that, as COO, he could make a direct impact on the company’s growth and portfolio retention in an era when client servicing activities are recognised as a key quality differentiator in insurance, Alzouniès chose “service quality simplification” and “digitalisation” as his guiding principles. Subsequently, the team was expanded 1,000% to 200 people. “The objective was to put the key enablers of user experience transformation under the same scope of accountability, namely data and project management, as well as two main business activities: policy servicing and claims,” he explains.
Marsh France added automated dashboards for its sales placement and servicing activities, modernised its client portals, and implemented internal workflow systems to track tasks and monitor service performance more effectively. The company also launched several new digital solutions, including:
MarshSignature: an electronic signature solution, wherein contracts can be “recorded, validated, certified, signed and archived” via an online platform (EDICourtage).
MarshOnline and MarshPartner: online underwriting platforms in support of the company’s Affinity portfolio.
MarshMotor: a multi-device solution allowing the user to report vehicle-related accidents, select a repair company from Marsh’s approved partners and benefit from remote damage expertise.
The latter solution was developed with Paris-based insurtech WeProov. Founded in 2015, the company is transforming claims through photo recognition AI (artificial intelligence) capable of facilitating easy, fast, and secure online FNOL (first notice of loss). “WeProov is one of our key partners and working with a fintech has actually enriched Marsh by providing added value and agility,” Alzouniès explains. “MarshMotor is a great way to collect information documenting damage and the process has been simplified enough to work on a smartphone; you can raise a claim in as little as five minutes.”
Another key partner is LTI, one of Marsh’s largest global strategic partners over the last two decades. During that time, LTI has supported Marsh on a number of transformational and digital initiatives. “In developing the newly revamped digital extranet offering, LTI has been playing an extremely important role by bringing its deep domain knowledge of our systems and processes acquired through supporting Marsh’s legacy BCP platform,” says Alzouniès. In the digitisation journey, LTI has helped in improving the user experience, enabling a SSO (single sign on) mechanism for clients, building more advanced reporting capabilities, and partnering on the optimisation of approximately one-third of Marsh’s processes, thus providing clients additional flexibility. “LTI has brought very high-quality technical and domain expertise to the initiative, which has augmented Marsh’s capacity to build and launch the new, enhanced Marsh BCP. With LTI strengthening its offerings around cloud, we look forward to strengthening this partnership further.”
Forging strong partnerships and developing innovative solutions has been particularly crucial over the last 12 months, as the COVID-19 pandemic placed significant strains on normal operating paradigms. Marsh France’s staff were already well versed in remote working methods, meaning the general shift was weathered with poise. However, this is not to say that the totality of the change wasn’t challenging: “Moving to a new operating model, where we previously had only an average of 10 to 20% of our people working remotely to close to 100%, was a significant challenge. Nevertheless, it only took us about one week to reach the optimal level of performance for all our employees,” says Alzouniès. This impressive achievement is made even more resounding by the concurrent finalisation of Marsh’s integration with British multinational insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT), which formed a significant logistical obstacle in terms of HR and client data migration.
For Alzouniès, remote working is just one component of a larger consideration: the digitalisation of processes, data and document exchanges. “The need has only been accelerated by the pandemic situation and it’s going to become even more important in the future.” Having met this internal transformation with aplomb, Alzouniès states that refining the company through a new OPEX (operational excellence) programme will feature strongly in Marsh’s strategy for 2021. Started at the end of 2020, this will be an ongoing and far-reaching initiative that is currently scheduled to last until 2023. “We decided to launch this at a global level across all our geographies as a major transformation programme. Its scope covers all of our business functions, including sales, placement, policy servicing, finance, and claims through digitalisation, service enhancement and quality improvement.” The end goal of this process is the “harmonisation” of Marsh globally through modernised operating models. “It's very important for us to harmonise our platforms,” continues Alzouniès. “System automation and service integration will also enable Marsh to capture and capitalise on more client data from a risk analysis and placement benchmarking perspective.”
Alzouniès is determined to further develop Marsh France’s core business solutions aligned with the company’s other offices in continental Europe. Taking a data-centric stance that emphasises the use of “maturing” technology like AI will form the crux of accomplishing this aim, although he states that this focus is not entirely new. “Data is important for our clients because they expect more benchmarking information. We also need to continue mastering our service performance, because it’s crucial to operate in the insurance market efficiently.”
When he considers the benefits that enhanced digitalisation will bring to the company as a whole, Alzouniès summarises them as service improvement through more efficient workforce deployment and overall service simplification. Through its OPEX programme, Marsh France has secured a flying start for incorporating these benefits. First and foremost in 2021, he states, the company’s main objective will be the finalised roll-out of MarshMotor, with the goal of making all the company’s French clients benefit from using the new application. Furthermore, new versions of client portals such as Marsh BCP (business continuity planning) will be launched before the end of Q1, as well as a new portal for real estate insurance management. “Over 2021, we want to significantly improve our work reporting capabilities and the quality of client reporting from a claims perspective. Marsh wants to enrich the quality of the data that we provide clients, not only to deal with risk management but also to enhance risk prevention.”