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ILC Leaders: Ian Hughes, CEO, Consumer Intelligence

1. How did you get to where you are today?

Ian Hughe, CEO, Consumer Intelligence

We had a belief that companies that fixated on customers were the ones to win in the long run. So we wanted to help companies by holding up a mirror and helping them see what they looked like through the eyes of the customer.

The key to that is not telling them they are ugly but helping them to find their beauty. And to then turn that into commercial opportunity. It wasn’t easy at first, because no one had ever done what we do before. To help us sense what was going on and learn how to help our customers we relied heavily on consumers, our customers and the market.

2. What’s the biggest challenge facing your sector of the industry?

Without a doubt it is the changing nature of trust.

Insurance is a contract of trust and yet the trust between customers and insurers is at a low ebb. Consumers want to trust the insurer and there is a real opportunity out there but things such as the disintermediation of the relationship between insurer and customer, the demise of “brand value” in insurance and the rise of Insuretech (as well as new data laws) are all creating a perfect storm for insurers and their customers

3. How are you and your business dealing with this?

We are spending a lot of time talking to customers and trying to help insurers unpick the opportunities. We want to find simple, easy ways for insurers to respond to the changing customers.

It is difficult because consumers are changing fast. 10 years ago there was no iPhone or App or Facebook or Twitter and that is empowering consumers. Insurers are still running on mainframes in some areas and they have regulatory pressures in other areas. We are evolving to talk less about the data and more about what insurers should do as a result.

4. Out of your achievements, what are you most proud of and why?

Raising two amazing children is my greatest personal achievement with my wife. From a business perspective, it’s still being here after 15 years, getting off a plane in Hong Kong or Dubai (or Glasgow) and knowing that there are people there who want our help. It’s awesome, and amazing.

5. What advice would you give to anyone starting out in insurance, claims or related services.

Don’t give up. 15 years ago we started doing this. There were many challenges along the way, we have pivoted, we have evolved, it has been the most stressful time in my life and the most wonderful time.

Your team are your DNA, who you recruit is your business, invest wisely in those people. Be prepared to evolve and flex, but follow your dream.

6. If you could change anything what would you do to make the insurance industry “Better tomorrow”?

Simple, start treating your most loyal customers like the amazing source of value that they are. The industry thinks of customers as “risks” and numbers. The cheapest prices go to the least loyal, least valuable customers.

The industry needs to learn to love its customers again. It’s a huge leap of faith and, maybe, counter intuitive, but It is essential to the future.

7. What’s your top tip for being productive?

This is going to sound really sad. I carry around a small notebook that I write down my to-do list on. At the beginning of every day I copy over my list of outstanding actions to todays list and I work my way through them. I also have Claire. She is the organised me that I am not, I allow her to run my life in the office.

8. What gadget can’t you live without?

Hmm…my nickname is “Inspector Gadget”. The only gadget which has stayed the course with me is my phone. But recently, I switched to an Android away from an iPhone just to make sure I’m not getting too comfortable with my tech.

9. Talent or Perseverance?

I have not got a lot of talent, so Perseverance, probably. At the end of the day, being able to stay on course over an extended period of time is crucial. But talent doesn’t hurt if you have it.

10. What do you do to switch off or escape from work?

Technically there is no such thing, my work is my life and that’s a good thing. I love my job, I love what we do. I am sitting here writing this in Cape St Mary, Nova Scotia and after I finish I will go for a 5 mile walk on the beach, it’s my little part of heaven and it’s 1,000,000 away from the rest of my life. But it is more about the contrast. All beach and no city is as dull as all city and no beach!

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