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European Insurance Technology Awards 2022: Winner's Q&A with Phinsys

Richard Tyler and Stuart Conibear
Richard Tyler and Stuart Conibear

Insurance Post recently hosted the European Insurance Technology Awards, recognising leading technologies and third-party vendors operating within the insurance industry across Europe. In this Q&A, Izabela Chmielewska talks to Phinsys CEO, Richard Tyler, and chief commercial officer, Stuart Conibear, about the firm's triple win at the awards.

Phinsys were named Best Automation Solutions Provider, Best Data Solutions Provider, and Best Software Provider - Digital Back End. What were you looking to demonstrate to the EITA judges regarding the Phinsys proposition?

Conibear: Our technology was an enabler for the automation and streamlining of finance and accounting functions for a range of different insurance businesses across the UK, Bermuda and US insurance markets.

Our 12 years in business demonstrates how our software, excellent delivery reputation, and strong references has not only ensured the ongoing success of our business, but also proved that we solve real problems for our clients.

Finance transformation projects are arguably the most complex that insurance businesses carry out, but we have a track record of successful and consistent delivery, and it’s no accident that we haven’t experienced any failed or abandoned projects.

What does the recognition of the EITA judges mean for Phinsys?

Conibear: We don’t do a huge amount of marketing; most of our sales activity is through word of mouth. So, the ability to talk about our EITA awards will enable us to attract new prospects that may be less familiar with our work and demonstrate how we may be able to help them – backed up by Insurance Post’s recognition of our successes.

Tyler: We often get lumped into the insurtech space, but the reality is that Phinsys is dealing with improving the precision and availability of trusted financial data. What we do with the data and how it improves day-to-day finance and accounting processes and the timely production of management, statutory and regulatory reporting, goes largely unnoticed by much of the industry.

Having awards that focus on delivering quality data and its benefits is crucial, and gives us a great message to pass on to our prospects and the wider market. The EITAs support the credibility of our solutions, and it is fantastic to have a set of awards that recognise our team’s hard work.

What are the biggest lessons Phinsys has learned over the past 12-18 months, and what challenges do you anticipate over the horizon?

Conibear: We’ve grown significantly over the last two to three years because many insurance businesses still had considerable issues with the effective operation of their finance function. With the onset of Covid and the move to remote working, we also saw a boom in businesses looking to automate previously on-premise tasks, an area which has historically seen under-investment.

Remote working also drove the need for greater financial transparency and confidence in data, which wasn’t possible with legacy systems and manual processes.

Our biggest challenge was how we scaled our business. Demand for our solutions remains high, and we can only take on as much work as our teams can handle without compromising on the quality and integrity of our platform, its implementation, and the ongoing support we provide our clients.

Tyler: Achieving scale by recruiting, improving internal processes, and ensuring that knowledge gained from multiple projects is harnessed and integrated into all our teams has been difficult, and we learned a lot along the way that has helped to further develop and improve our business.

We’re now a much stronger company with a talented team, greater experience and, happily, more clients using our platform. Since 2019, we’ve trebled in size while ensuring that we still deliver the same standard of work as before with a relatively small group of people. Watching our business develop and mature in response to demand has been hugely rewarding.

What solutions are you putting in place to ease the transition to a larger, more significant business?

Tyler: We have been using our experienced staff more widely across various projects and ensuring they supervise and guide the less experienced staff in their roles. We use our experts on a wider scale rather than focusing on one or two projects.

We’ve also spent the last 18 months developing the next version of our software. This will provide additional products and capabilities for clients as well as making implementations easier by utilising the latest technology.

It’s not just about using the latest technologies from our own experience; it’s about reflecting on what was easy, what was hard, what the opportunities are and what people coming into the insurance market from other sectors can contribute to improving our platform.

Conibear: Financial systems are often expected to last a minimum of 5-10 years. With clients using our software over that kind of period, we need to ensure the technology is as fresh and future-proofed as possible, from both a user and tech perspective. We do that by continually investing in a dedicated team responsible for ongoing system development and enhancement.

How are you looking to build on your EITA successes this year?

Conibear: We began in the UK market but have since expanded into Bermuda and the US. We’ve seen strong momentum in those insurance markets, and the EITAs will help showcase our solutions to potential prospects.

We also have plans to expand into the Middle East. Beyond that, we see an opportunity to become global, since our growth over the past few years has demonstrated that the problems faced by the finance functions of insurance businesses are common, wherever they are located.

Tyler: Having several EITA wins enhances Phinsys credibility in the market. Clients, partners, and stakeholders in the wider market increasingly recognise the need for our solutions and understand that what we have built is special. This, alongside the very significant insurance businesses we work with, and the positive things they say about our solutions, reinforces our reputation as a leader in our field.

What qualities make you stand out as a valued insurance software solution provider?

Conibear: Transparency and reliability. Phinsys is good at telling clients about what it does well and what we don’t do. Rather than allowing ourselves to be pulled in different directions by clients, we try not to dilute our offerings and instead focus on what we excel at, so that we remain a long-term valued partner.

It can be tempting to take client investment, change our solution, or bend it to fit a particular project, but we know our solutions work, and the positive outcomes this has for clients who implement our platform.

Tyler: We use the same code for all our clients, but we configure it for each to precisely suit their needs. We also use our experience from each client project to explain how our solutions can work for others who are reimagining their finance function, and how they can be tailored to meet specific needs.

Our solutions therefore improve with each implementation, and this also increases the chances of succeeding at meeting the current challenges.

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