Kevin Steer: Pioneering the FinTech and InsurTech Revolution

Kevin Steer

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Today, it has become imperative for the financial sector to offer digital solutions and this trend is moving faster than anticipated. Banks are partnering with FinTech enterprises to operate at a lower cost and alleviate the reliance on legacy systems. As a result, banking institutions are able to retain clients, while FinTech partners improve the customer experience with user-centric, mobile solutions. Moreover, there are emerging mobile players in the insurance industry introducing customer value with their mobile solutions.

Driven by the surfacing of the FinTech and InsureTech startups, the insurance industry is amidst a systematic change in business operations. While the insurance and financial service industries witness more digital and tech-focused disruptors entering the market, companies such as 121Advisor have been around for a while—delivering cost-effective solutions that empower Financial, Insurance, and Takaful providers with robust, innovative technology solutions.

Kevin Steer (Founder and CEO of 121Advisor) has been the mainstay behind the company’s proliferation since its inception in 1990. With more than 20 years of successful track records in technology solution implementation and consulting services to various clients in the financial, insurance, and the takaful industry across the Asia region, he has been driving the company towards immeasurable growth.

The Substantial Experience

Kevin graduated from the Cambridge University (Downing College) in 1978 with an engineering degree. He went over to Brunei to train with Schlumberger for 4 months. Thereafter, she was assigned to Australia for 18 months, transferred to Indonesia for 3 years, and then to China for 6 months.

Observing the advances of mobile computers, Kevin decided to do a Master’s at Imperial College (London, UK)—where he studied Artificial Intelligence—and joined an Artificial Intelligence company in the UK. Thereafter, he moved to Malaysia with the aim to set up an entrepreneurial company focused on insurance and banking solutions and established 121Advisor in 1990.

Catering to the Digital Needs

121Advisor provides numerous FinTech and InsurTech services including Referral Management with Marketing Automation, Mobile Point of Sales, Online Direct Selling, Online Claims, Agency Distribution, Online Customer Service Portals, and Corporate Websites. With the growth of AI and Chatbots, the company implemented disruptive solutions including Multilingual Chatbots & Robo Advisors along with AI-based Predictive Analytics/Machine Learning for predicting new products, Lapsation, Fraudulent Claims, and future predictions for Investment Funds.

Kevin mentions that COVID-19 has helped the company deliver online solutions including direct online sales for insurance and takaful. The pandemic also helped 121Advisor’s customer service portals where it provides service requests that are submitted to the servers—which does the processing and returns the results back to the customer portal. It also offers services such as Sales Activity Mobile App (SAMA), Community and E-worksite Marketing and Distribution (CeMD), Enterprise Product Configurator (EPC), and Multi-channel Distribution Management Solution (McDMS). 121Advisor’s services are used by several multi-national companies in Malaysia such as MCIS (Sanlam), Manulife, AIA, AIG, Zurich, FWD, AMetLife, AMetLife Takaful, and Gibraltar BSN (PrAmerica).

121Advisor’s products and services are integrated into its ‘Customer First Connected Enterprise Digital Framework’. “This enables us to create personas for targeted marketing. We can set up persona rules to auto-match and trigger RPA processes for marketing automation to reduce costs. We can also create blogs that are used in targeted marketing with associated product recommendations, says Kevin. As a founder, he is a ‘techie’ and advises the team on InsurTech and FinTech. Moreover, he develops the database designs and shares them with the team. Based on the designs, he gets feedback from the team and adds extra fields to the tables.

New Knowledge Portal

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted businesses in many ways as they had to alter their operations according to the need of the hour. Under Kevin’s auspices, 121Advisor was quick to adapt to the new normal. The company relentlessly offered solutions to insurers and banks throughout the pandemic. Initially, the team had to work from home due to the lockdown impositions. However, it later received permission to go back to the office, and presently the team is working from the office.

Observing that the Millennials do not understand the financial needs and seem to get into debt, the company recently launched a new knowledge portal providing lifestyle advising on financial planning and health & wellness. “One of the toughest decisions we made during the pandemic was to launch our knowledge portal, and this grew because we offered Shopee Vouchers, which were quickly snapped up within a few minutes, as well as health and wellness offerings to our customers,” says Kevin.

121Advisor has developed a number of health calculators and will be implementing a “Total Health Score” solution in the future. In the coming years, the company aims to roll out the Financial Planning Goals (Loans, Retirement, Medical, Child Education, Critical Illness) based on a person’s lifestyle (Single, Married, Young Children, Old Children, Retired). Kevin asserts, “These financial goals are mapped to the person’s lifestyle. This knowledge portal has grown to more than 5000 users.

Planning for Expansion

2020 was a challenge for 121Advisor with different insurers and takaful operators cutting their costs. However, in 2021, the company is looking forward to rolling its knowledge portal to multiple countries in the Asia Pacific—such as Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, etc.—along with marketing, banking, insurance, takaful, and unit trust companies.

Kevin adds that 121Advisor envisions offering health and wellness solutions to the users along with marketing directly to doctors and their clinics. The company also aims to provide multilingual translations in these countries in stages and plans to launch its solutions in Europe and the US as well.

Kevin Steer quote

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