NextWave Insurance:life insuranceand retirementHow insurers can navigate to growthin the next decade
ContentsLeadership letter. 3Executive summary. 5Market profile and megatrends. 72020 market profile. 7Megatrends for 2030. 11A tale of multiple markets. 14Four generations of customers: the people life insurers will serve in 2030. 18Scenarios: six stories of market leadership in the next decade. 21Six prevalent business models, circa 2030: how tomorrow’stop performers will go to market and operate. 34Leading the next wave: imperatives and frameworks for a more purposefuland profitable future. 39Imperative actions. 39Long-term value: a template for transformation. 41Conclusion. 43Further reading. 44Contacts. 452 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
A message from the EYInsurance leadership teamGiven the nature of the life insuranceand retirement market, its leaders havealways taken long-term views of theirstrategic horizons and growth prospects.Today, a combination of economic,technological, competitive, demographicand societal shifts — plus the COVID-19pandemic — have increased the urgencyfor proactive change in the immediate term.The macroeconomic challenges alone, including persistentlylow interest rates and strained government finances, are formidable.Success in the next decade and beyond requires thoughtful action now.Our recent interactions with executives from leading insurancecompanies around the world confirm there is greater appetite foroperational, organizational and technological transformation todaythan ever before. The rapid shift to remote working and all-digitalcustomer touch points revealed how quickly companies could adaptto changing circumstances. It also made clear how much more workremains to enhance and integrate digital channels and to becometruly customer-centric.The upside growth potential for the industry is enormous, especiallygiven the clear opportunity insurers have to live their purpose,strengthen customer trust and take advantage of increasing demandcaused by COVID-19. Addressing critical societal issues, starting withthe protection and retirement savings gaps, will be good for businessand encourage innovation and transformation. What industry is betterpositioned to deliver the financial security so many consumers needand want?3 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementIsabelle SantenacEY GlobalInsurance LeaderPeter ManchesterEY EMEIAInsurance LeaderEd MajkowskiEY AmericasInsurance LeaderGrant PetersEY Asia-PacificInsurance Leader
A message from the EY Insurance leadership teamWe believe the path to growth and profitability runs throughpurpose, and insurers should start the journey by buildingon their historical strengths. In contrast, firms that move tooslowly in retooling or reimagining their business models riskfurther erosion of their market share.Protecting people against risk and preserving their overallwell-being will remain at the core of the industry. But howcompanies fulfill that purpose will look vastly different.There will be significant new products, services and valuepropositions, as well as richer, omnichannel experiences forall customer types. Workforces will be considerably leanerand feature new skills and talents. Distribution networks willbe remixed. There will be much more sophisticated use ofadvanced technology.Like the others in our NextWave Insurance series, this paperdescribes the major forces reshaping the life insurance andretirement market now and how they will play out during thenext 10 years. It offers generational portraits of tomorrow’scustomers, snapshots of the business models that will prevailin 2030, and imperatives and recommended actions formoving forward.The entire EY Insurance team is energized by the unprecedentedlevel of transformational activity and creative thinking that istaking place across the industry globally. It’s encouraging tosee that even in a time of widespread uncertainty, so manyare working to build a brighter, more purposeful future forthe life insurance and retirement sector. We hope you find ourobservations both intriguing and useful and we look forward tofruitful discussions about the future of your organization.Protecting people against riskand preserving their overallwell-being will remain at thecore of the industry. But howcompanies fulfill that purposewill look vastly different.4 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementThe EY Global Insurance NextWave visionrepresents our perspective on the mostpowerful trends and forces shapingthe industry’s future. The processbrings together thinking from ourglobal leaders, industry and functionalprofessionals and technologists, as wellas outside experts and academics. Incollaborative ideation workshops, thesegroups help clients envision a brighterfuture and map out the road ahead.
Executive summaryA complex mix of economic, technological, competitive and societaltrends have the global life insurance and retirement1 industry facingan inflection point.Interest rates have remained too low for too long for past strategiesto be effective now. The product-driven business models of the pastwill not be sustainable in the future, primarily because they can’tadapt quickly enough to changing customer needs, not to mentionbroader social and economic trends. In the face of large and growingprotection and savings gaps, society also needs something differentfrom the industry; life insurers must (re)define their role if they wantto help address these issues and opportunites.Given the range of differences in product offerings, growth andpenetration rates, regulatory landscape, technology maturity,demographics, cultural norms and public finances, there is no suchthing as a single global life insurance and retirement market. Rather,there are many individual markets, presenting unique opportunitiesand risks. There are significant similarities and parallels, however,including increasing investments in innovation, convergence withother sectors, intensifying competition and changing customerexpectations. While the direction of travel is broadly consistentacross some markets, each is starting from a different point andmoving at its own speed.The US market first signaled that major strategic reassessmentsare in order. In the world’s largest life insurance market by grosswritten premium (GWP), premiums have remained flat during thelast decade and the customer base has declined by 14% since1Note: We refer to the “life insurance and retirement industry” to reflect theincreasing overlap of the protection and savings markets, encompassing bothtraditional insurers selling annuities, and banks and wealth and asset managersselling retirement savings and income products.The product-drivenand distribution-centricmodels of the past willnot be sustainable in thefuture, primarily becausethey no longer reflectwhat customers want.5 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement2011. Trillions of dollars of assets have migrated away from USlife insurers. Even where regulation creates opportunity (suchas the 2019 SECURE Act), low interest rates make it hard forinsurers and annuity providers to take advantage. In the UK, autoenrollment in workplace pensions has brought in 10 million newcustomers. Pension freedoms have led to unprecedented change inthe retirement market, but the growth in assets has been limited;workplace contributions are often small, and in many cases newbusiness figures in retirement mask individuals consolidatingassets from multiple providers.More stringent regulations for financial reporting, solvency andconsumer protection in the US, UK, EU, Australia and othermarkets have sparked new or reinforced historical shifts to thirdparty, fee-based distribution models. They have also furtheredthe decline in traditional savings products, which appear to offerpoor value compared to tax-wrapped investment products. Moreregulatory activity is to be expected in the coming decade, withmany markets moving toward more detailed reporting and stricterguidance on offering appropriate products to consumers. In manymature markets, the pressure to digitize distribution increasesas the agent force ages and cost pressures mount. The recentexperience of markets with established third-party distributionsuggests that agents and advisors will over time seek to control agreater share of the value chain.
Executive summaryIn contrast to the sluggish performance of mature markets, Chinaand other emerging markets have experienced more dynamicgrowth since the global financial crisis. The growth has come aboutdue to overall economic growth — specifically a rise in disposablehousehold income — and a very low initial penetration rate. They aredominated by strong, innovative and extremely valuable brands,some of which view themselves as technology companies. Despitethe impressive and ongoing growth, these markets will eventuallyencounter many of the same challenges faced by their peers andcompetitors in the more mature markets.A challenging macroeconomic environment and extremely tightmargins confirm that bold action is imperative. COVID-19 has onlyincreased the urgency. Many forward-looking carriers are alreadymobilizing to meet the moment, with historically large investmentsin digitization, innovation and cultural change. These proactive andforward-looking efforts offer a stark contrast to past challenges, whendefensive cost-cutting was the typical response. The good news isthat increased digitization will help reduce costs at the same time itenhances customer experiences.The potential upside is compelling for life insurers that can masterthe many moving parts of transformation. The projected US 240trillion retirement and US 160 trillion protection gaps in 2030point to the industry’s growth potential — and its ability to make ahuge contribution to the overall well-being of individuals, familiesand society as a whole. Of course, the competition for that revenueand market share will be intense and involve new players — fromlarge asset managers to digital-first startups to tech giants. Andthe insurance industry can’t do it alone; it will have to engagegovernments and regulators, as well as other financial servicesfirms, to develop strategies to close these gaps. Governments andregulators are increasingly open to dialogue about how the industrycan help reduce the burden on the state.Innovation is necessary to seize the upside. For instance, insurers mayseek to offer risk-informed protection products (e.g., those built on thesharing of biometric data from wearable devices and from electronicmedical records) to ensure more accurate pricing. Investment productswill need to be redesigned (and repriced) to reflect market realities. Assuch, we expect more providers to specialize, with many choosing tofocus more narrowly on specific protection and investment products,furthering the market bifurcation that has been underway.The financial strength of established life insurers and their historyof resilience confirm that they can execute the necessary near-termpivots and drive the broader transformations that are necessary forbreakthrough growth. However, the scale of the necessary change toreinvigorate their purpose and capture the opportunity is larger than theyhave undertaken before. Yet, history shows that those who do not actboldly often fall by the wayside. The decisions and actions undertakentoday will begin to determine who’s on top of the market in 2030.In describing the megatrends, market scenarios and future businessmodels for the next decade, this report raises a range of implicationsand questions for insurance leaders as they chart a course ahead.6 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementThe financial strength ofestablished life insurersand their history ofresilience confirm thatthey can execute thenecessary near-termpivots and drive thebroader transformationsthat are necessary forbreakthrough growth.
Market profiles and megatrendsMarket profilePersistently low interest ratesIt’s difficult to overstate the challenges low interest rates presentto the industry. Beyond pressures on earnings, capital and liquidity,they threaten the viability of traditional and guaranteed insuranceproducts. They also force the development of new types ofinvestment products (e.g., those with no or only soft guarantees).Low interest rates are not the only threat, however; decreasinghome ownership, increased unemployment and more gig working(which may exacerbate the retirement savings gap) are othersignificant issues. The impact of COVID-19 will be felt both throughGDP contraction and lower stock prices, though it’s also increaseddemand for protection products.Low yields for 10-year government bonds in key developed markets (June 2020)GermanyJapan UK-1%US0%1%Source: BloombergThe impact of COVID-19Material losses suffered by insurance indices in Q1 2020-4.9%11080expected decrease in GDP cumulatively by theworld’s 10 largest insurance markets comparedto 2019 as a direct result of COVID-1950Jan/20Feb/20Mar/20S&P 500 InsuranceNL European InsuranceS&P Global 1200Source: EY analysis7 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementApr/20Source: Asia Insurance Review
Market profiles and megatrendsCompetition for assetsAs insurers have bought into the asset management businesses, they have confronted new challenges — including tightprofit margins and competition with banks, private equity firms and pension funds. A mature asset management sectorposes a serious threat to life insurers’ ability to grow in the retirement space.Share of household financial assets by asset class1995201927%18%Other24%Mutual funds23%18%Stocks & bonds28%37%Retirement accounts10%4%19952019E13% 3 trillionhousehold assets that have shifted from lifeinsurers to asset managers in US since 1995Life insuranceSource: EY analysisA strong foundation for growthDespite the challenges, insurers have generally strong balance sheets, unparalleled expertise in risk selection and management, andwell-recognized brands. Their strong embedded networks of agents, financial advisors, banks and brokers are another plus providingcompetitive edge. 150% 200% 44%solvency ratios of the top20 insurers, 2019solvency ratios of 17 oftop 20, 2019Source: S&P Market IntelligenceSource: S&P Market IntelligenceNote: Solvency rate is the ratio of capital held toregulatory requirements8 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementof global consumers citingbrand reputation as veryimportant when buyinginsuranceSource: ReMark, SCOR
Market profiles and megatrendsLagging relevance and unclear valueIn the world’s largest market, insurers must tell a better and more persuasive story and offer aclearer value proposition if they are to reverse some of the worrying trends of the recent past.-14%52%decline in life insurance ownershipin the US since 2011Source: LIMRAUS consumers citing uncertainty about howmuch or which type of insurance they needas the reason for not buying life insurance Source: LIMRA 50% 3XSource: Geneva AssociationSource: LIMRAglobal consumers who don’t know aboutproducts such as wealth accumulationand longevity protectionperception of cost vs. actual cost of lifeinsurance and retirement products amongUS consumersRising generations of consumers need to beeducated about the value of insurance duringdifferent phases of their lives.9 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
Market profiles and megatrendsToday’s market andthe outlook for 2030EY projections highlight the industry’s compelling growth opportunities.The keys will be to develop products that address societal needs, attractmore types of consumers and demonstrate the industry’s purpose.20192030Life insurancemarket 2.9 trillion 4.2 trillionLife insurancepenetration3.2%2.7%Retirementsavings gap 140 trillion 240 trillionMortalityprotection gap 120 trillion 160 trillionSource: EY analysis, Swiss Re, World Economic Forum10 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
6megatrends reshaping the marketThe following megatrends will reshape the global life insurance and retirementmarket in the next decade. Underpinned by changing consumer needs andpreferences and intensifying pressure on state-sponsored pension schemes,they will lead to the most significant market scenarios (see page 21) and thedevelopment of new business models (see page 34), as well as induce culturalchange and technology modernization.1Financial health and wellnessFinancial well-being — having the ability to control day-to-dayfinances, capacity to absorb a financial shock and confidenceto meet financial goals — has become more important tomore consumers around the world. With government pensionand retirement plans looking less viable, such security will beharder to achieve.participate in the gig economy. Lifetime income should beembedded into retirement plans, as has been mandatedby the SECURE Act in the US. COVID-19 has also renewedinterest in protection products, a core competency of the lifeinsurance industry.For insurers and retirement planning companies, valuepropositions will highlight how they can help people live thelives they want, with high degrees of financial security andphysical and mental health. Offerings will be more flexible,forward-looking and “goals-based,” with an emphasis onHowever, insurers will need to be more transparent indefining and prompting necessary consumer behaviors toachieve those goals rather than guaranteeing outcomesas in the past. Retirement savings products will be moreholistic and offer more options as consumers’ needs change.That’s how they’ll enable individuals to follow non-linearproactive preparation over downside protection. Theywill also reflect that more people work for themselves orcareer paths and take non-traditional retirements, based onalternating phases of asset accumulation and decumulation.40%approximate proportion of millennials and Gen Z consumers who expect financial,health and wellness guidance from their insurerSource: ReMark, SCOR11 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
Six megtrends reshaping the market2Long-term valueInvestors and analysts will expand their valuation approaches to include more holistic, long-term metrics, rather than onlyshort-term financial measures. Intangible assets, such as intellectual property, talent, brand reputation, innovation andenvironmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts, now carry greater weight. This shift toward inclusive, or stakeholder,capitalism will help build trust with younger generations and spark broader public-private collaboration to address societalissues, including the cost of future environmental damage or social injustice. (See page 41)98%institutional investors that weigh acompany’s stance on global challengesin investment decisions67%CEOs who feel moderate to extreme stakeholderpressure to address global challengesSource: EY 2019 CEO Imperative StudyLearn more about the EY-led Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism and read its initial report 3Collaboration with governments and regulatorsDifficult macroeconomic conditions, underfunded government retirement programs and intense regulatory scrutiny (especiallyaround consumers’ best interests and data privacy) will force insurers to collaborate with public authorities on multiple fronts.This is a good thing, as there is huge opportunity for the industry to help shift reliance away from the state. The prioritieswill be increasing financial education; facilitating product innovation; influencing public policies, including tax incentives;and issuing long-term bonds. More-robust consumer protections and data privacy standards, as well as financial reportingframeworks, will be designed to promote financial stability.34%24Source: Life Insurance Association of SingaporeSource: Alliance for Lifetime Incomeincrease in uptake of retirement policies in 2019 inSingapore following formal industry-governmentencouragement12 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirementnumber of annuity, advisory and investmentfirms in US forming an alliance for education onlifetime income
Six megtrends reshaping the market4Ecosystems and omnichannel engagementEcosystems will continue to grow and mature, becoming a critical way to engage consumers with compelling propositions andcross-channel experiences. Technology advances — particularly in the realm of application programming interfaces (APIs),microservices and data fabrics — hold the key by enabling rapid integration and smooth data sharing. Insurers will create theirown networks of partners to offer complementary services. They will also offer products through those orchestrated by others.Ecosystems will allow insurers to focus on their particular strengths (e.g., offering particular services to niche segments) andinnovate more broadly (e.g., with subscription models). They also suit insurers to modernize their distribution and shift tohybrid advisory models that balance robo-advice with human interaction. Partnerships being formed today will set the stagefor future ecosystem success.94%5667%insurers that view platform-based businessmodels and ecosystems as critical to successAsia-Pacific customers who consider end-to-end onlinepolicy processing when selecting an insurer after COVID-19Source: Swiss ReSource: Swiss ReCapital optimization and convergenceBeyond the ongoing challenges of low interest rates,macroeconomic and competitive factors are driving the quest forhigher levels of capital efficiency. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)and reinsurance are key variables in the equation. With morecapital available from a wider range of sources and increasingclarity about the need for well-being, convergence will accelerateamong life and health insurance, retirement planning and wealthand asset management. Capital efficiency will be a key designprinciple for future business models, largely because it will benecessary for survival.Commoditization and customizationThere are many reasons why life insurance and retirementproducts have become commoditized, including conductregulation, competition from asset management and increasingcustomer preference for simplicity, transparency andcomparability. Increasingly, consumers perceive value through richexperiences and trust-based relationships. That’s why flexibilityand customization are imperative. Insurers can use technology tocombine simpler components into personalized solutions, providedthey have the necessary digital and analytics capabilities.13 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement9.4%compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in thenumber of M&A transactions in the insuranceindustry, 2017-2019Source: Clyde & Co 3 trillionamount of investable assets to which a USinsurance and annuity leader gained potentialaccess through a new digital engagementmodel and robo-guidance toolSource: EY analysis
A tale of multiple marketsThe outlook for the global life insuranceand retirement industry is really a taleof multiple markets.will need to demonstrate why protection matters to them and how itfits among other priorities (e.g., paying off student loans or savingto buy a home). Profitably serving mass-market consumers willrequire further education about the value of life insurance and theadvantages of long-term savings.That’s true in terms of widespread differences in products (e.g.,risk protection policies vs. savings and income-oriented offerings),maturity levels, cultural norms, distribution models and the rate oftechnology adoption. While there are similar themes across markets(e.g., savings and protection gaps, aging populations), each marketwill follow a unique evolutionary path.The growth outlook for China and other emerging markets remainsstrong. In fact, we estimate that the Asia-Pacific market will accountfor 50% of gross written premium by 2030. However, the structuraladvantages that enabled such rapid growth — a baseline of very lowpenetration and government promotion of private insurance — havebegun to wane. The practices of Chinese insurers are being emulatedin more mature markets, especially relative to digital distribution,platform development and customer engagement.In mature markets in Europe and the Middle East, as well as themore established markets in the Asia-Pacific region, sluggish growthand declining customer bases remain causes for concern. Thesepressures are leading to shifts in the product mix to address theneeds of older buyers, who remain the dominant buyers.At the same time, incumbents are seeking new ways to engageyounger generations sooner with services that can sustain lifelongrelationships. Younger consumers have limited savings, so insurersThe rise of ecosystems in response to industry convergence is ofparticular interest; there’s little doubt that such models, alreadycommon in China, will gain traction in all global markets in the nearfuture. Similarly, Western firms are working to embed more digitalthinking and tech talent in the workforce, as insurers in emergingmarkets have done to a large extent.While there are common themes acrossmarkets, each is starting on its ownevolutionary path from a different pointand moving at its own speed.14 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
A tale of multiple marketsGlobal markets at a glanceUS and CanadaAdvanced EMEAMainland ChinaLife GWP2019: 682 billion2030: * 757 billionLife GWP2019: 972 billion2030: * 1.33 trillionLife GWP2019: 329 billion2030:* 881 billionLife GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 2%CAGR, 2019-2030: *1%Life GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 0%2019-2030: *3%Life GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 10%2019-2030: *9%Market penetration:2019: 2.9%2030: *2.4%Market penetration:2019: 4.6%2030: *4.2%Market penetration:2019: 2.3%2030: *2.4%OtheremergingmarketsEmergingAsia (excluding mainland China)AdvancedAsia-PaciﬁcLife GWP2019: 149 billion2030: * 222 billionLife GWP2019: 140 billion2030: * 231 billionLife GWP2019: 645 billion2030: * 799 billionLife GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 2%2019-2030: *4%Life GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 4%2019-2030: *5%Life GWP, CAGR2010-2019: 0%2019-2030: *2%Market penetration:2019: 1.0%2030: *0.7%Market penetration:2019: 2.2%2030: *1.4%Market penetration:2019: 6.8%2030: *6.9%*ProjectedSource: EY analysis, Swiss Re, BMI Database, Oxford Economics Database15 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement
A tale of multiple marketsProduct and distribution mix: top 10 life insurance marketsProduct and distribution trends reflect the amount of changeunderway across the industry and point the way forward for stillmore change in the decade ahead. The biggest shifts are to morerisk-based and investment-linked products, rather than traditionalsavings products, and toward independent distribution models thatare fee-based, rather than commission-based.The UK market is the most advanced in terms of thesedevelopments. Other than the UK, US and South Korea, all topmarkets are still largely dominated by tied or captive channels(including agencies and bancassurance). Traditional savingsproducts dominate in China and India, while Japan has shifted toLooking ahead, a shift toward less capital-intensive and moretransparent products is expected, driven by persisent low interestrates and stronger digital channels. More stringent consumerprotection, financial reporting and capital regulations, will also playa role in key markets.While face-to-face distribution channels are still expectedto dominate, there will be a significant shift towards hybrid advisorymodels that integrate the human touch with seamless digitalexperiences. Sophisticated data analytics, AI and the Internet ofThings (IoT) will enable advanced omnichannel distribution.risk products during the last decade; in fact, about 50% of in-forcepolicies in 2018 were from risk products.% of third-party, fee-based and direct-to-customer channels*100%UKUS50%South KoreaGermanyMainland ChinaItalyJapanFranceIndia0%Taiwan0%50%100%% of investment-linked plans and risk products*The 10 markets in the graph above have been selected based onThe size of the bubbles represents GWP in 2019.projected GWP in 2030. The channel data (y-axis) is estimated as of2018, with third parties defined as brokers and independent financialadvisors (IFAs). The product mix (x-axis) is also estimated as of 2018.Source: EY analysis, Swiss Re, BMI Database, GlobalData16 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement 77 billion(India) 549 billion(US)
A tale of multiple marketsRetirement savings gap: top 10 life insurance marketsMarkets around the world are also in different positions and takingdifferent approaches to addressing the retirement savings gap. I
3 NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement NextWave Insurance: life insurance and retirement Given the nature of the life insurance and retirement market, its leaders have always taken long-term views of their strategic horizons and growth prospects. Today, a combina