MLC Life Insurance will undergo a $300 million upgrade of its technology systems, in a move it says will assist advisers complying with the Life Insurance Framework reforms.
Speaking to Risk Adviser on the sidelines of the AIOFP offshore conference in Japan, MLC chief operating officer Sean McCormack revealed the tech overhaul that has come as part of a range of changes implemented following the acquisition by Japanese mutual Nippon Life.
“The investment that’s coming through is designed to provide greater digital functionality,” Mr McCormack said.
“We are doing a major revamp of all our digital platforms, over $300 million over the next couple of years as we move off NAB systems and start over with fresh technological architecture and transition our clients and advisers over to the new system.
“That will help one of the pain points for advisers. With LIF reforms, they need to become more efficient, and we will be digitising processes which will allow them to do business with us much more easily. That’s what the investment is designed to support.”
Life insurance advisers and policyholders will benefit from Nippon Life’s philosophy as a mutual company and its commitment to customer service, Mr McCormack said.
“Over the past three years of getting to know Nippon Life, I have found them to be absolutely obsessed with the customer experience and making sure the customer is getting a really fair deal.
“This comes from their proud history as a mutual company. Their efforts are all for the policyholder. They don’t have an overriding concern for the shareholder, so it is a much simpler business.”
Mr McCormack said MLC is already experiencing more positive flows in the period following the acquisition, which he said may inspire other insurers to consider a more policyholder-focused approach.
“I don’t want to speculate about what specific competitors might do, but … I do think that the whole mutual concept and long-term thinking is far more in sync with how a god life company operates,” he said, adding, “I would expect that over time we would start to see ownership structures reflect that.”
The comments came as Nippon Life senior managing director Hiroyuki Nishi revealed high expectations for the company’s foray into the Australian market.
“We intend [for] MLC Life Insurance to be number one in the market, sooner or later,” Mr Nishi told AIOFP delegates at a briefing at Nippon Life’s Tokyo headquarters. “We cannot do this without your support.”
Nippon Life acquired an 80 per cent stake in MLC Life Insurance in 2015, in what was the Japanese firm’s first majority position in an overseas company. NAB retains a 20 per cent stake in MLC Life Insurance.