What Does Finys Stand For?

You might be surprised at how many times people ask us what Finys stands for.

For a while, we thought about trying to make it an acronym. But in case you haven’t tried it, finding useful words that start with y is pretty tough. The best we could come up with was Finys Is Now Your System. That seemed a little presumptuous. So, we dropped the acronym idea.

Okay. We’re kidding. Finys was never an acronym, and we never intended it to be one. But we do get asked what it means quite a bit. So, we might as well tell you.

The Truth of the Matter

Finys is a play on the word, finesse. Inspired by the saying, “Don’t force it. Use a bigger hammer,” we were convinced we could build a system, a suite of separate but interconnected modules, that could be implemented and operated with a bit more flair and flexibility than other systems. We wanted to develop a suite that would process property/casualty insurance configurably, without imposing a cumbersome array of prescriptive rules and limiting constraints. We even wanted to include a degree of artistry. That’s why we call our configuration toolset — that features an intuitive user interface; pre-built line of business templates; drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG fields and process aspects; and report wizards — Design Studio.

We also wanted to build some finesse into the way we did business, the way we priced and implemented the Finys Suite. That’s why we assign fixed costs for the product and its implementation, amortized over five years. Putting that kind of skin in the game clearly demonstrates our commitment to doing right things, even as it significantly mitigates our customers’ risk and exposure. And it clearly indicates their success is as important to us as it is to them.

The Bottom Line

So, what does Finys stand for? It stands for integrity. It stands for reliability and accountability. It stands for flexibility and configurability. And it stands for satisfied customers.

If Finys were an acronym, it could stand for Finys Is Nifty, You See.

But it’s so much more than that.

The Next Level

We’re in the midst of March Madness. We love the games and everything. But one of our favorite parts of the experience is that we get to hear any number of coaches and players in the innumerable post-game interviews saying things like this: “We have to take our game to the next level.” Or this: “Well, our shots were falling pretty good, but we have to take our defense to the next level.” But it’s not just sports. The subject could be business, personal finances, the landscaping around your home, the resolution on your TV screen, pet grooming, your relationship with your significant other — anything. People are always talking about the next level:

“Take it to the next level.”

“We have to get this thing to the next level.”

“If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to take your attitude to the next level.”

Are we the only ones who wonder what the next level is? Don’t we need to know the level we’re on before we can determine the next one? How many levels are there?

Deep Breath

In assessing any claims about or aspirations towards the next level, we need to separate rhetoric from reality. Let’s take our software for example. Do we want to take the Finys Suite to the next level? Absolutely. Do we know what the next level is? Not exactly. And the reason we don’t exactly know is that we’re not going to determine it in a vacuum. We’re going to look at what we’re dedicated to doing — property/casualty insurance administration.

We’re also going ask our customers what works well, what might not work so well, and what they’d like to see next. We do that continuously through the input of our Innovation Advisory Board. We’re going to remain as informed as we can by interactions at industry events, talking with prospects, constant reading and reviews of insurtech and industry trends, and maintaining advisory relationships. We’re going to assess the cost/benefit of what we can do and when. And we’re going to map out the next successive levels in the way that makes sense for all parties involved.

How about this? Let’s agree everything and everyone wants to get to the next level. But let’s also agree we have to evaluate where we are. We have to determine and define the next level. And we have to develop a plan to get there.

Are you ready for the next level?

Uncertainty: Welcome To the Future

’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes. (The Cobbler of Preston by Christopher Bullock, 1716)

Many of us are, no doubt, familiar with those two most famous examples of certainty. And the fact is, everything else is pretty much up for grabs. Flash back to the end of February 2020. How many of us imagined the ensuing year would transpire the way it did, would see a global pandemic, would change the ways in which we live, work, and socialize? We rest our case.

The abiding lesson from the past year, of course, is that we all need to be as well prepared as possible for the unexpected (short of clairvoyance). We need to be as resourceful as possible as we confront the unexpected, however it manifests (short of a planet-destroying galactic calamity). And we have to be as mindful as possible of the needs of those we serve (short of surveying them non-stop, which might be the only thing worse than a planet-destroying calamity).

What Happens Next?

We have no idea. If we did, we’d be in a completely different line of work; although, we’d probably shy away from phone psychic. Kidding aside, and even though we really don’t know what will happen next, some things seem fairly predictable:

  • If you sell property/casualty insurance, you’ll have prospects and policyholders.
  • If you have prospects, they’ll want to be able to evaluate and purchase policies, to understand coverage limits and exclusions, and to have flexible billing and payment options.
  • If you have policyholders, they’ll want to be full informed at all times, to have digital access to their policy and claims information, and to have whatever level of self-service with which they might be comfortable.
  • If you want to be as responsive to your prospects and policyholders as they expect you to be, you’ll need a processing suite with the functionality to provide that responsiveness and with the scalability to grow as your business grows.

If we go any farther than that, we’ll be tooting our own horn. And nobody needs that.

But we’re here to help when you’re ready to live with uncertainty.

And you won’t need a psychic hotline.

Digitalization: Déjà Vu All Over Again

Like seeing a car you’ve never seen before or learning a word you never knew before, as soon as you see the car or learn the word, they seem to be everywhere. Such is the case with digitalization. So, we weren’t surprised at all to see a Transunion consumer study, the results of which were published with the title, “COVID-19’s Impact on the Insurance Industry Will Continue Well into 2021”. Under trend #3, the Transunion survey revealed this:

Almost half of respondents (47%) filed an auto and/or property claim in the last year, and of those, nearly four in 10 (39%) used a mobile app, website portal or e-mail. Consumer preferences for interacting via digital/online platforms also support this trend. The survey found respondents preferred to communicate with an insurance provider primarily via e-mail (32%) and telephone calls (32%), followed by an insurer mobile app or website portal (18%). As digitization grows, insurers must balance introducing and expanding digital customer interactions while also delivering friction-right experiences and protecting against fraud.

It’s a little surprising that 64 percent of the respondents still preferred email and phone calls (2,015 of 3,148). But we can expect web and mobile usage to trend up. Forewarned is forearmed.

One Digit at a Time

We’ve talked about digitalization in the past. We’ve written about it, too. And we know it’s déclassé to quote ourselves, but we’re going to give ourselves permission, just this once:

Most insurers were relatively well-equipped for hybrid operating models and even WFH [before COVID]. But meeting the needs and expectations of their policyholder and prospects who live in a highly digital world? Not so much.

So, what’s to be done? First, make sure your core systems are modern (or modernized) enough to accommodate digital capabilities and interfaces. Second, make sure your portals and mobile apps are maximizing self-service capabilities for your policyholders, your agents, and your other constituents. Third, make sure you have a plan to get you optimally digitalized, starting with the steps you can take most quickly to yield the greatest benefit at the least cost, then work your way up from there. Fourth and most important, communicate with all of your constituents to make sure you’re giving them the functionality they want and to earn their trust and their loyalty.

The word, digitalization may sound daunting. And the phrase, digital transformation, may be downright terrifying. But with a sound plan and prioritized steps, you’ll get there. Transunion’s 64 percent won’t be able resist progress for long.

If you need help, we’re here when you need us.

The High Cost of Being Unprepared: Part Two (An Insurtech Tale)

The January edition of Best’s Review contained an article entitled, “Turning a Corner”. The article was about so-called insurtechs (as if insurtechs are something other than the insurance technology we’ve known, loved, developed, and used for decades.) It said this, in part:

Through the Great Depression, there were as many as 300 U.S. auto manufacturers. But by the 1960s, the Big Three in Detroit controlled 90% of the market, after others died or were gobbled up by competitors. Similarly, it’s only been a few years since the word insurtech became part of the industry’s lexicon. Yet today … a current round of mergers and acquisitions in that space seems to follow a similar path as those earlier auto companies.

Well, yeah. “But what does this have to do with preparation?” we hear you ask. We’re glad you did.

Like Water

Everything evolves. Few things evolve as quickly as technology and its applications. As in nature, some of the things that evolve will survive. Some of them won’t. As with water, some of the things that survive will seep into usage, adopted by companies that recognize their value adapt to include them. The important question is not, “Which ones will survive and which ones will perish?” The important question is, “Which companies will be prepared to adopt and adapt to those that survive and constitute discernible value?”

In the insurance industry, we’ll all be keeping an eye on AI, on machine learning, on telematics, on personalized rating and pricing, on 5G, on the Internet of Things and the digitalization of everything. Again, the important question won’t be, “Which ones will stick?” The important question will be, “Which companies will be using core systems that will allow them to integrate the insurtechs that demonstrate discernible value?” Or to hone that question to two sharper ones: (1) Will you be ready?  (2) Do your core systems allow you to be?

Loaded

We’ll grant you those questions are loaded. But we can afford to ask them because we built the Finys Suite to enable that readiness. We just happened to think it was a good idea. Do you?

Are you prepared?


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The High Cost of Being Unprepared

We once heard a story about the town of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. According to the story, many years ago, it took the people of Uxbridge 50 years to figure out the sewage in the Blackstone River, which flows through the town and was stinking up the place, didn’t actually come from Uxbridge. We’re fairly certain gravity had been invented by then. And we’re pretty sure water flowed downhill then. So, the fact that Uxbridgians didn’t deduce the fact that the sewage in the Blackstone was flowing down from points north inspired a feeling of disbelief in us, even though we were assured the story was true.

We had the same sort of feeling when we read a story in Saas Brief recently. Entitled, “The ‘Hybrid Office’ is Going to Be More Work, Not Less. Time to Start Preparing”, the story said this, in part:

The “hybrid office” will be coming for most of us, and maybe really for the first time ever where there are no two-tiers of employees and team members.  It will be great.  But it won’t be cheaper.  It will be harder.  And it will require a lot more investment in culture.

Wait. What?

Let’s Go to the Replay

At a technology conference in San Francisco, in 1968, Douglas Engelbart demonstrated the ability to do remote work using a computer, a mouse, and a keyboard. Last time we looked, this was 2021. If we’ve had that kind of capability for 53 years, it’s hard to imagine how — and why — we need hybrid offices. And it’s almost impossible to believe companies would create hybrid offices at all, let alone creating them knowing they’ll increase expenses and make operations more difficult.

Maybe we should stop and ask ourselves a few questions: In the insurance industry, haven’t most core systems been web-based for quite some time? Doesn’t the touting of those systems included phrases like work from anywhere? If you believe in gravity and the future, wouldn’t you build a system that would make such geographic and operational flexibility possible, even making completely virtual insurance companies possible? We did. But maybe that’s just us.

In any case, there’s no reason to pay the high cost of being unprepared.

We’re not in Uxbridge anymore, Toto.

Our New Year’s Resolutions

No matter how you slice it, 2021 is going to be an extraordinary year, if for no other reason than it follows 2020. Need we say more?

Consequently, we thought it appropriate to come up with an equally extraordinary list of New Year’s resolutions and to share them here. So, as a public service, here they are:

  1. We’re never going to utter or write the phrase, new normal. The fact is the entire world was arduously about the business of adapting to a new reality sometime around March or April of last year. It forced us to wonder about our very conceptions of normal, let alone a new normal. So, this year, normal is out the window. Rather, we’ll look ahead. And we’ll focus on accomplishing what we can in the effort to provide the best products and services to our customers that we can. As the actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins, once said, “Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday.” We’re going to spend the energy we might otherwise spend worrying about tomorrow to accomplish what we can today and every day.
  2. We’re going to take more chances. We don’t mean we’re going to take foolish risks. We mean we’re going to set our sights just a little higher. Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Not us. We’re going to use the success we’ve already achieved as inspiration and as impetus to extend and expand that success even farther.
  3. We’re going to have more fun. We got into this business because we love it. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that no work is worth doing if it’s not the work of your heart. And if you’re doing the work of your heart, you certainly deserve to enjoy it. We do. We will. We hope you do, too.
  4. We’re going to cherish our relationships — all of them — and be more mindful of them. Especially with the specter of COVID-19 hanging over us, there are no guarantees of anything. Every relationship and every moment is valuable.
  5. We’re not going to be preachy. Okay. We may not have done such a bang-up job on that score with our items 1-4 above. But we’ll try. We promise.

No matter what happens in 2021, we wish everyone who reads this post a healthy, happy, and rewarding New Year.


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A Christmas Tale

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Finys,
What most folks were doing was anyone’s guess.
But Kurt was responding to customer queries
While Scott, fast asleep, dreamt of sugar plum fairies.

Their stockings were hung from their chimneys with care:
With COVID around, the home office was bare.
But customer service was still on their minds,
As they all imagined their Christmas-morn finds.

Then suddenly each of them heard a strange sound.
They ran to their windows and looking around,
All of them saw the same fat guy in red,
Pulling some stuff from a reindeer-led sled.

For all of his girth, that old fat guy was quick.
All of them wondered, “Could that be St. Nick?
He could be a sprinter. He moves like The Flash.
He’d beat Usain Bolt in a hundred-yard dash!”

And then, as they watched, he would run back and forth,
Carrying packages all marked, “Pole, North.”
He stacked them right up, and then jumped in his sleigh,
Calling out loudly, “Up, up, and away!”

Sure enough, in a blink, he was clean out of sight,
Headed for places unknown in the night.
And all the Finys folks were scratching their heads,
Wandering curiously off to their beds.

Each of them wondered if they should reveal
The fact to their colleagues that Santa is real.
But then they all reckoned (as wisdom imparts)
That Santa would always live safe in their hearts.

From all of us to all of you, Happy Holidays, best wishes for a safe Holiday Season and a bright, prosperous New Year.

Good Enough is Not Good Enough

There are many ways by which we come by our convictions:

  1. Sometimes we see things that motivate us.
  2. Sometimes we learn things that inspire us.
  3. Sometimes we hear things that disturb us.
  4. Sometimes we hear things that unsettle us to the point at which we realize we can’t let them be true.

Pertaining to #4, we once heard someone say, “Well, you know, sometimes good enough is good enough.” In a sense, Finys is dedicated to the proposition that good enough is not good enough.

Nothing’s Perfect

Some years ago, we saw Roy Firestone in interview Troy Aikman on his ESPN program, Up Close. At the time, Aikman was the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he won three Super Bowls. On several occasions during the interview, Aikman made reference to playing a perfect game.

At one point, Firestone said, “You keep referring to the perfect game. Do you actually think it’s possible to play a perfect game?”

Aikman responded, “I don’t know. But if that’s not what we’re striving for, what’s the point?” Translation: Good enough is not good enough.

By the same token, we don’t know if it’s possible to make the perfect software. But if that’s not what we’re striving for, what’s the point?

What We Know

We do know it’s possible to make software that does what our customers need it to do. We do know we can make sure of that by asking them. That’s why our Innovation Advisory Board comprises members from all of our active customers who want to participate. We do know we will continue to modify and improve our software, enhancing it and adding functionality to it.

We also know we can limit it. We can’t be all things to all people. Neither can our software. So, we’ll make sure it fulfills the insurance-administration objectives of our customers. But it won’t ever contain functionality that doesn’t pointedly and efficiently fulfill those objectives.

Do we believe it’s possible to play the perfect game or to make the perfect software? We don’t know. But we do know Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.”

Good will always be good. But good enough will never be good enough.

The Big Shift

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. (L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between)

The coronavirus pandemic has us thinking about that famous quote from L.P. Hartley. It also has us thinking about three other things:

  1. The so-called new normal
  2. Best practices
  3. Thomas Kuhn.

First, the notion of a new normal, of course, suggest an old normal. And that, to varying degrees, suggests stasis — a set of circumstances, unchanging, in which we do or think about things in a particular way. Since nothing in the world is unchanging, that suggests any notion of an old normal was a fallacy. At the very least, it was necessarily temporary.

Second, and by the same token, best practices also reflect stasis — a kind of settling for inactivity or unimaginativeness, rather than a relentless search for active improvement or creative betterment. While the phrase, best practices, has become almost required in business vernacular, touting it can imply we’ve settled for some degree of complacency.

Hello, Paradigm

Third, in his 1961 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn wrote this, which, one could argue, introduced the term, paradigm (which later became a buzzword), into the vernacular:

Paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has recognized as acute.

That one sentence applies to the new normal and the old normal, and it presages the notion of best practices, even as it suggests best practices are, by definition, temporary; that is, we recognize that one paradigm or set of paradigms may be adopted to solve one particular problem or one particular set of problems. It also tells us the success of the paradigm has been perceived and accepted in hindsight. Accordingly and similarly, we can perceive a set of activities to be a best practice only in retrospect. Thats why, later in the book, Kuhn writes this, indicating that — rather than looking to the past to derive practices in the present — we might look to the future; that is, we can choose to pursue, rather than to make do:

If we can learn to substitute evolution-from-what-we-do-know for evolution-toward-what-we-wish-to-know, a number of vexing problems may vanish in the process.

And that brings us back to the coronavirus pandemic and the new normal.

Are We There Yet

Under the constraints of the pandemic, we’re replacing what we were doing for what we want, need, or aspire to be doing. The good news is we’ll always be improving. The bad news is we’re demonstrating that best practices and new normals might not be good things because they have their own obsolescences built in.

In our last post, we wrote about finding our way toward becoming efficiently productive outside of the office and generating new sales activity. We’re not the only ones doing that. We can’t be. As human beings, we’re creatures of creativity. We think. We adapt. We evolve. We grow and change. We develop better ways of doings. We chafe at restraint and aspire to ideals. So, best practices become yesterday’s news; and our quest for improvement never ends. It’s the way of the world and exactly as it should be.

We used to do things differently in the past. We even shifted our cars differently. That was then. This is now.

The coronavirus is The Big Shift. But we’ve stopped grinding our gears and started to move.

And you kids in the back seat aren’t allowed to ask, “Are we there yet?”