Mercer Marsh Benefits: harnessing data to drive insurtech
Richard Roper, Health & Benefits Leader Hong Kong, Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) Asia, discusses the optimisation of data in order to drive the insurance company forward.
Richard Roper, Health & Benefits Leader Hong Kong, Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) Asia, became a part of MMB, a collaboration between Mercer and Marsh, when Marsh & McLennan acquired Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) in April 2019. Roper had been with JLT for over 20 years, starting out as a consultant before moving to lead the corporate financial services business, private clients, sales and marketing in the UK. In 2014, he moved to Asia in order to lead the JLT Employee Benefits business in Asia.
Though the merger marked a significant shift across the organisation, Roper takes personal pride in the success of the integration of the two companies. “During this time, we surpassed all targets. This was against a backdrop of difficult times in Hong Kong,” he adds. “The resilience of the team to get the job done was remarkable.”
Executing a successful digital strategy is invaluable in the industry and region currently, but for MMB it is particularly important to harness technology in order to bring improved insights to its clients while matching the needs of its changing workforce. “Our clients are looking to attract and retain employees, manage costs and improve the employee experience,” he says. “Our role is to work out how we can best help companies achieve those goals by understanding what the factors are that affect those goals.”
To achieve this, data needs to be acquired and assimilated in a manner that enables effective insights for Marsh & McLennan’s clients, and this has been taking place alongside the changes undertaken by the workforce. “For example, last year our Hong Kong office went 100% agile. No allocated desks, no offices, just different types of mobile workstations. All employees have laptops and access to conferencing technology that allows fully mobile virtual meetings.” He adds that this has been particularly valuable with the recent disruptions in Hong Kong, as employees have been able to work from home or remotely.
Within this strategy, Roper believes that the key technology underpinning MMB’s competitive edge is its use of data. “MMB goes a step further with the use of data. Data without insights is useless. We go the extra mile to gather different data sources and then use the outputs to formulate targeted actions to help organisations achieve their people-related goals.” Corporations moving to harness large amounts of data is often easier said than done, but MMB has met this challenge with confidence through its partnership with AIA.
“We worked very closely with AIA on ‘data driven wellness, utilising claims data, biometric screening data and health risk assessment data to formulate a plan to provide targeted interventions to improve the underlying health and wellbeing of employees.” Roper credits the ability to have provided companies with a benchmark from which they can assess the success of these goals to MMB’s completion of AIA’s Healthiest Workplace Survey.
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Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”