New CII president Julie Page talks to Luke Holloway about managing the expectation gap in insurance and helping the profession to evolve
Becoming CII president is a significant milestone in any professional’s career, but to be doing so at a time when insurance and financial services are evolving and adapting due to Covid-19 presents a unique challenge. “At any time, it would be a privilege to be appointed as president of the CII,” Julie Page tells us. “But now, with the unprecedented health crisis and economic interruption caused by Covid-19, the need for us to continue to focus on trust in our products and services increases both the privilege and responsibility I feel in accepting this honour."
Ms Page’s theme for her year in office will be built around the need to fill gaps – both in protection and in perception.
“The insurance profession does fantastic things around its core competence and the protection of tangible things and people,” she says. “However, the reality is that our world is pivoting away from the tangible and placing more value on intangible things.
“Current events have highlighted a ‘trust challenge’ that aligns directly to this issue of tangible vs intangible. Covid-19 has created an economic interruption not founded on physical damage, whereas the business interruption protections provided by insurance fundamentally are founded on physical damage. We now have a perception gap which we must find a solution for.
“We need to use the insight we have to guide and support customers, ensuring that both we and our clients understand what we are here to do and we fulfil that expectation.
“My presidency will be about encouraging conversations and creativity to start the move into solution mode, meeting these challenges while building and maintaining trust.”
The world is changing and our traditional approach is not going to remain in the long term. We are enormously proud of our 300 years of history, and so we should be, but we must adapt to the new realities
Ms Page has worked in the insurance profession for more than 30 years and was appointed CEO of Aon UK in 2018, leading Aon’s commercial risk, health and affinity businesses.
After leaving school aged 16, she joined a youth training scheme – like today’s apprenticeship schemes – while also studying for a business diploma at Reading College, which included CII insurance modules. She earned an ACII qualification.
“I have always been a member of the CII since I joined in 1986. More recently, I reconnected with the organisation through my support of the Insuring Women’s Futures initiative.
“I will continue to be very active for and with the CII in diversity and inclusion. There is a moment in time right now where the current circumstances in the world are such that awareness, appetite and desire to bring about positive change are very great and we cannot afford to miss this moment.
“I am very encouraged by how the profession as a whole is taking responsibility and responding.”
The evolution of Chartered status is also a factor Ms Page feels is key to the profession and she is looking forward to working with the CII in developing how it applies to the new ways in which risks are being mitigated.
“When you look at the legal entity of Aon UK, large numbers of our employees are not in insurance, so when you consider Chartered status it feels like there is a slight misalignment.
“We are in the risk business and yes, we are still close to insurance as one of our fundamental propositions, but at the centre of that is risk in its broadest sense.
“The world is changing and our traditional approach is not going to remain in the long term. We are enormously proud of our 300 years of history, and so we should be, but we must adapt to the new realities,” says Ms Page.
New talent is vital to the future of the profession, according to Ms Page, who feels there are two important elements insurance businesses must closely consider.
“Firstly, the risk dynamic our customers face is changing, for both consumers and businesses, so we need diverse thinking to respond to the shifting landscape of risk.
“But things are also changing in terms of skills. The way we do our jobs is evolving and you cannot escape the pace of technological change.
“My generation was not born with a keyboard at its fingertips and does not believe that a conversation can take place without saying a word.
“There are many things we previously did not consider normal behaviour but which a whole wave of younger customers do. They adopt and understand new technology at a pace that our organisations must match.”
Technical knowledge is also essential, says Ms Page, and a factor that she will aim to support during her presidency. “The CII plays a critical role in supporting continuing professional development, improving standards and professionalism, but equally in bringing together the depth and breadth of the profession.
“I am looking forward to working with the best and the brightest talent from across the diverse spectrum of our profession and doing my part in helping new solutions emerge,” she concludes.
Ms Page is a member of the Confederation of British Industry’s presidents committee and a member of the FCA Practitioner Panel.
She is a champion for diversity and inclusion, previously holding roles as a committee member of Inclusion@Lloyds and the Dive In festival.
Ms Page was a non-executive board director of the British Insurance Brokers Association and, in 2017, received the Business Insurance ‘EMEA Women to Watch’ award.
Luke Holloway is editor of the CII