The Interview: Catch-Up With Genasys Joint CEOs

Genasys are growing fast in 2021 and helping more companies do insurance differently than ever before. As the company appoints Andre Symes and Craig Olivier as joint CEOs, IE magazine booked a Zoom call to catch up with the latest.

Andre Symes
Craig Olivier

IE; Let’s start with the CEO announcement, does having two CEOs mean there are separate operations in South Africa and the UK now?

AS; No not all. It’s more about me and Craig dividing our time in different parts of the Genasys business, nothing to do with geography. So it’s really a functional shift, in that I’ll be looking after growth and strategy and Craig will continue to develop the technical side of things.

There is a great advantage in having a dual CEO set-up, well several actually. It gives everyone within the company access to the top level with an idea very quickly, also we can both cover for each other. So if either of us is away on holiday or whatever then the other can take control day-to-day. As we are formally reporting to a Board now you want a structure where there is that alignment between people at the C level. We are scarily aligned in our thinking in fact, I’ve known Craig for 20 years so we’re always second-guessing each other on stuff.

CO; The Genasys way of doing things is team-based, it’s never been a hierarchy. One thing that’s emerged from the pandemic is that people within Genasys have shown that they can be even more productive by working from home and the teams within the company are self-managing. We have seen the business expand in the last year or so because the teams are more empowered now, there’s much more mentoring and innovation going on.

AS; So true. We have seen that Genasys are able to see an insurance problem, and then work up a solution to that issue very quickly. What you don’t want to do in any insurtech company is have a line manager, then middle managers etc. because that can often stifles innovation. We have a one hour daily digital drop-in lounge session, so anyone can log into the room online and talk about new ideas, anything they want.



IE; It’s been a long road since we met in Stockport back in 2018, when Genasys had really just got going in the UK. But since then you’ve built some great products, forged partnerships and lots more. Which have been the most satisfying, or challenging in those last three years or so?

CO; For me it’s been the last two customers we worked with because they were big projects which have demonstrated that we can raise the bar and provide the solutions that the big insurance players are looking for. It’s also been really satisfying to help businesses at the opposite end of the scale – start-ups likeArma Karma whose mindset is very much focussed on new customers, creating new insurance products that work better for online consumers. You can see that there is demand in the market for flexible insurance that is PAYG and often has a social good theme built-in, which is why an eco-system approach works superbly when building things from scratch.

AS; For me the most satisfying thing that’s changed in the last few years is that you don’t need tens of millions to build and launch a new insurance product, or years to to it in. I guess Genasys has been on a mission to prove that we could build more agile, build better at a fair price. So to get the

chance to do exactly that and make it work, is the best feeling. Definitely. Apart from riding my racing bike on the Tour de Insurtech of course!

IE; Yes IE will be along on a couple of stages.

AS; Plus, I’d add that helping some of the insurtech and insurance brand founders realise their dream, by building a brand new product from the ground up – that is a great feeling too.

IE; What are the trends in new insurance brands right now, what does Genasys see in the future?

AS; Definitely seeing more custom, bespoke insurance products. Much more focus on personalised products that people can refine for themselves. More subscription services, often sold alongside another product or service – that’s a growing niche.

IE; Is there more demand for several products wrapped up together, like ingredients inside a burrito?

AS; Yes, up to a point, because some insurance products naturally fit together, or you might want to just bolt on travel, or bicycle cover etc. as you get to summer, then knock it off again in winter. The other aspect of the `Burrito’ is insurance brands wrapping themselves up together, which is back to the eco-system platform. You will always need that array of third party partnerships, in any future scenario.

CO; You know it isn’t just new products where that approach works. There’s no reason why you cannot transform something that already exists, make it work more flexibly, or just respond to new demands in the market. When you look at things like Point Of Sale distribution of insurance, you can see that there’s always an opportunity to take something that exists and repackage it, wrap it differently, so it has a new look or adds extra value.

If you look at car insurance, it’s heading towards something more personal, that’s built on real time driver data, not your occupation or postcode.or the vehicle

AS; The interesting thing now is that the data the pricing is based upon, is changing rapidly. As people’s driving habits change and there’s less commuting, then it becomes more important to understand how and where they drive, most of the time.

Now that’s where data sharing comes in and it is in everyone’s interest in the insurance sector, and car manufacturing too, that data is being shared with full consent. That opens the door for pricing per trip, cover by the hour, in the near future. We aren’t there yet, but that’s the direction we are going in, where a much deeper understanding of risk underpins the product.

IE; Do you think that the ADAS systems and new techniques of repairing electric vehicles is another area where the insurance sector needs to play catch-up a little bit?

AS; For sure the car makers are building new tech all the time, sometimes this will solve problems and other times it might create new challenges. Things like replacement parts, how to triage and price repairs on pure EVs, battery pack swaps etc. – there are going to be new insurance products to service that expanding EV market. The main thing is that those new insurance eco-systems are future-proof, agile, customised.

CO; Another big growth area in the future will be healthcare. We can see that the pandemic has made people think about their health much more. Again, we can expect to see more personalised health plans, more lifestyle data driving the premiums, online diagnosis and much more.

IE; Interesting insights, great to catch up

About alastair walker 10513 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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