Headquartered in Montréal, Canada, with a local office in India since 2016, Equisoft provides digital transformation products and services to solve the insurance and investment industries’ biggest, most complex problems. It offers innovative front-end applications, extensive back-office services, and unique data migration expertise and is recognized as a valued partner.
The team of CXO Outlook sat down with Mr. Rana Biswas, the Vice President, Wealth & Insurance Solutions, APAC, Equisoft, to talk about Equisoft, its inception story, progress over the years, vision for the future, and a lot more.
Mr. Biswas himself is a strategic thinker and thought leader with over 25 years of experience in banking, insurance, and financial services that he developed in India. Presently, Mr. Biswas leads Equisoft’s sales and business development in the APAC region and works tirelessly to partner with his clients to help them craft strategic initiatives for their IT transformation to drive efficiency and profitable growth.
According to you, how has been the growth of Insurtech globally? In what areas are the companies lacking behind, and what approaches should they take to improve?
Looking from a global perspective, I feel the immediate priority for insurance leaders is to catch up! There’s a lot of talk about innovation, but first, we need to build the right foundation for all stakeholders. The majority of advisors still don’t have a CRM. Most carriers have multiple 30-year-old back-office systems. And very few enable real-time policy service. Hence, there is a clear need to modernize and accelerate new product development and enhance the customer experience to meet heightened customer expectations and compete with born-digital insurtechs.
Just as we did in the wake of the tech bust at Equisoft, other companies too need to leverage technology to add value for advisors. They need digital tools that increase efficiency and deliver a 21st-century experience for their clients. Carriers and brokers who provide better CRM, financial planning, illustration, electronic application, and self-servicing portal solutions will only then be able to attract and retain the brightest talent.
I also feel that at a time when the growth is slow and the pace of change is high, it’s necessary to apply everything we’ve learned about finding innovative solutions for our clients. To stay relevant in the market, the companies must integrate front-end tools with back-office platforms. Additionally, CRMs and agency management systems need to be linked to data feeds so that information can flow freely where and when it is required. If applied, these fundamental changes will lower operational costs and prices. They will also make possible new direct and hybrid distribution models and accelerated highly personalized customer experiences.
Please share the story behind Equisoft’s foundation. Over the years, how has the company progressed?
Equisoft was established as a private company specializing in the design and distribution of state-of-the-art digital business solutions for insurance and wealth management companies by Luis Romero in the year 1994. Around 2002-2004, Equisoft successfully acquired its first flagship product, WealthElements, a wealth management tool now known as Equisoft/analyze. This was followed by Equisoft’s first company acquisition (McCahill Group), which serves as the foundation for Equisoft’s Centre of Excellence in Philadelphia; the Launch of illustration solution InsuranceElements, now known as Equisoft/illustrate; Oracle acquired AdminServer (now known as OIPA). In 2012, Equisoft became the first Oracle specialized integration partner and consolidated its market position as the best integrator of the OIPA system.
From 2013 to 2016, the first expansion of activities began outside North America with major projects in Jamaica, South Africa, and Chile. In 2017, Equisoft acquired Universal Conversion Technologies (2017), a US-based company that specialized in data conversion for the insurance industry. Two years later, Equisoft expanded its product offering through several company acquisitions, namely Kronos Technologies (2018), RetireWare (2018), Planiste (2018), Ageman (2019), and Grendel (2019). In the past two years, we have opened new offices in Australia (Sydney) and Latin America (Colombia) and acquired the UK-based Altus Group.
If you look at Equisoft today, the company is considered a partner of choice by more than 220 institutions in 16 countries. And it gives me immense pleasure to be a part of the company and its progress.
Can you please tell us about the extensive range of products and services offered by Equisoft?
Equisoft’s digital solutions and services for insurance and investment professionals are unlike any other. Equisoft’s end-to-end solutions for the insurance industry offer integrated or modular, front- and back-end systems for manufacturers, distributors, and advisors.
Our investment value chain solutions include investment applications and tools for all stakeholders, from fund manufacturers and broker/dealers to advisors. We are matchless when it comes to implementation services and support for Oracle Insurance Policy Administration system (OIPA). Equisoft is also the world’s leading integrator of OIPA with 100% success.
How does Equisoft stand out from the crowd? And how are you ensuring that your clients are delighted with your service?
Our strategic digital transformation products and services create solutions that solve the biggest, most complex problems facing the insurance and investment industries. Every day, we are helping insurance and wealth organizations reach their goals. We are also known to turn complexity and risk into success because of our consultative client partnerships, hand-selected, onshore teams, investment in the discovery phase of each project, and industry and tech side experience. These collective attributes make Equisoft stand apart in the marketplace.
Over the years, we have helped numerous organizations embark on their modernization journey and leverage technology to reach new levels of growth. Our elaborate case studies and testimonials from various customers testify to the quality of our products and services and the level of excellence that we strive to achieve in each of our projects. For more details, you can go through the insights section on our official website.
Tell us about the work culture at Equisoft. How do you stimulate innovation within the organization?
I speak this with great pride that our employees are at the heart of Equisoft’s success. We support our employees’ individual development and growth through internal and international mobility opportunities, a wide and diverse project portfolio, and new market penetration, as well as through flexible working hours and a variety of social activities and wellness programs.
We also believe that continuous learning is essential to develop one’s full potential and that this learning should take place not only through training but also through healthy competition and teamwork. For this purpose, we offer our employees an environment where they can exchange and be confronted with challenging business problems. At Equisoft, we nurture a culture of innovation where everyone is encouraged to bring new ideas that we can bring to life together.
Which key opportunities is Equisoft eying in the global market? As the VP of Wealth & Insurance Solutions in APAC, please brief us about your expansion plans.
The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the insurance carriers in terms of the difficulty of selling and supporting customers through digital processes. We have also observed that insurance organizations were unprepared for the digital solutions required during and post-pandemic across the value chain. Hence, the ability to connect with customers digitally, provide seamless services, and launch new products quickly is the new differentiator, and so the carriers who are ahead in their digital readiness will reap the most benefits in the long run with their customer-centric approach. As having a robust, scalable, and integrated IT platform has become one of the biggest drivers of profitability for insurers, there is an increased demand for digital partners with a proven track record, and that demand is fuelling our global expansion strategy.
At Equisoft, we intend to partner with even more insurance companies and associations in APAC and across regions. We are also very excited about the positive traction we have witnessed in the Indian market, both in life insurance and wealth management. Currently, we are in discussions with life carriers that are evaluating large IT transformation projects.
In terms of expansion plans outside India, Equisoft is actively positioning its insurance expertise in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Bangladesh, while on the wealth management side, our focus is more on Hong Kong and Singapore.
As someone who has over two decades of experience in banking, insurance, and financial services, Mr. Rana, what piece of advice would you give to Insurtech start-ups?
My suggestion would be to focus on thought leadership and always look to provide value to insurers. Also, try to build awareness and trust by sharing expertise and insights with companies starting to engage in digital transformation initiatives.
What exciting things can clients expect from Equisoft in the coming years?
Right now, our aim is to increase thought leadership content, and actionable insights for the industry crafted from exclusive research and webinars and podcasts with top C-suite execs from around the world. Our team is working on the advances in integrated AI and data analytics across products. We are also coming up with new versions of successful products like Equisoft/manage (Policy Administration System), Equisoft/apply (insurance eApp solution), and Equisoft/centralize (Agency and Bancassurance Management System). These products are updated, keeping in mind the more business-critical issues that insurers face today.
As for the future, we believe that the lessons from the past few years that made companies more efficient, resilient, and adaptable are now making possible an era of innovation like we have never seen before. We are looking forward to seeing how technology will have transformed the whole industry in just a few years from now.