Using IFRS 17 as a catalyst for Finance Transformation: What's all the fuss about?

28 July 2019

Where has the last year gone since I wrote my first blog. The feedback was so good I've given it another go..... one a year isn't that bad is it?

As we reach event 9 in the PwC Global IFRS 17/IFRS 9 Finance Transformation series which I've been organising, I want to share some of my experiences and themes that I've seen and heard whilst linking with teams and seeing the different approaches around the world on this topic.

IFRS 17 as a catalyst for finance transformation and digital change within an insurance company - Is this a crazy idea? IFRS 17 is an accounting standard after all so it's only for accountants to think about isn't it? Why should an insurer change their whole business approach and systems to comply with an accounting change? and surely other regulatory changes have offered this opportunity too?

Over the last 2.5 years, I've been more intensely involved with IFRS 17 and linking with PwC insurance teams all over the world. I've recently heard clients being increasingly receptive to including other areas into their IFRS 17 projects. To be honest, some insurers still see IFRS 17 as a pure technical accounting exercise to comply with the Standard set by the IASB, where others are running full scale finance transformation projects and using IFRS 17 as a catalyst. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, especially as the insurance market has relatively recently gone through another regulatory change: Solvency II in Europe and other regulatory changes around the world. I can however see a shift in mindset and approach over the last 6-9 months and is building momentum. Is IFRS 17 linking with wider finance transformation the future of organisation change?

The PwC IFRS 17 leaders and teams I support have discussed this idea for quite some time. As this topic builds momentum, we decided to take this idea on a global roadshow. We titled it "IFRS 17 / 9 in Turbulent times: PwC Finance Transformation and technology Series 2019". In this blog I want to demonstrate the reach and the different approaches taken around the global IFRS 17 network to explain and demonstrate this idea. IFRS 17 being much bigger than just an accounting change project.

We’ve currently organised 8 separate market events, covering 9 cities since March 2019 taking this idea on tour. We’ve seen great appetite from all markets, wanting to understand why Finance Transformation and IFRS 17 can be connected and how one could approach this. At each of these events we covered a global overview update based on our experiences of over 170 IFRS 17 projects around the world, plotting where insurers are along the IFRS 17 journey. We discussed the technology and vendor options available to insurers and the link with IFRS 9. We kept bringing the theme back to using IFRS 17 as a catalyst for finance transformation within an insurance company.

Each event has been different in style, some large presentation style events to smaller intimate round table discussions on the topic, depending upon what works best locally and culturally. One size does not fit all. See below how we've got on so far;

Munich, Germany (21 March 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Sven Stark, Maren Hausmann, Michele Farber, Carsten Horst, Alexander Dotterweich, Jan-Huug Lobregt
Round table style event
This was an intimate round table event, a selected number of insurers were invited to the PwC office in Munich to share ideas and approaches on this topic. PwC leaders presented the potential approaches and pitfalls an insurer should take into consideration. Overall feedback was very positive and the materials generated from this event have flowed through other events in the series.

Zurich, Switzerland (11 April 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Patrick Maeder, Sven Stark
Linked to the Future of Finance Fair:
PwC Switzerland opened the doors of our Experience Centre in Zurich for PwC’s first Future of Finance Fair. We were happy to welcome three guest speakers live on stage, who shared with us their finance transformation journey. These speakers gave our guests great insights into the different challenges and imparted success stories of their companies. More than 80 CFOs, CIOs, Heads of Controlling and Heads of Accounting followed our invitation and visited the fair where they had the chance to deep dive in to the future of the finance function. Watch the event video here.

London, United Kingdom (1 May 2019)
Leaders/Presenters Alwin Swales, Tom Brown, Jan-Huug Lobregt, Richard Hart, Adam Pitt-Stanley, Alice Katsarou, Charles Whatling, Tom Swift, Diego Cervantes-Knox,
Presentation style event with live polling
The London event on using IFRS 17/9 for financial transformation, primarily focused on vendor selection, reflecting the average UK firm's position on their IFRS 17 journey. However, many other topics were discussed including the benefits from intelligent automation and connected self service data. Live surveying at the event confirmed that 1 in 5 are planning to use IFRS 17 as a driver for full financial transformation and a further 40% are targeting programmes that are beyond basic compliance with the standard.

Lisbon, Portugal (15 May 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Gabriela Teixeira, Carlos Maia, Jan-Huug Lobregt, Claudia Parente, Joao Gravito
Presentation style event in an external venue/auditorium style
Clients in Portugal are towards the start of the IFRS 17 journey and are particularly interested in options and solutions for smaller/medium sized insurers who are interested in minimal compliance. Clients shared with us that they found it important to discuss technical issues about IFRS 17 in the context of wider considerations.

Brussels, Belgium (22 May 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Martijn Cuypers, Sebastian Harushimana, Jan-Huug Lobregt
Presentation style event in the PwC Experience centre
Attendees were really interested in the PwC Illustrative Financial Statements plus the technical approaches on the Standard. This event was before the IASB Exposure draft was released so there was a lot of conversation over this and potential amendments/delays etc.

Sydney and Melbourne, Australia (including New Zealand) (14 June 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Scott Hadfield, Julia Strelitz, David Cummins
Presentation style with a panel
The audience appreciated the reminder and forewarning to act now, additionally there was interest to know more about where local clients are in the IFRS 17 journey. This event ran an interactive panel with Q&A's on this topic which gave the audience real life examples. We also video conferenced the PwC Melbourne insurance market into this physical event in Sydney.

São Paulo, Brazil (12 July 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Carlos Matta, Alex Bertolotti, Tom Brown, Luis Ruivo
Presentation style with a panel
Approximately 100 people attended the event. A significant portion of the Brazilian insurance market is working on the impact assessment phase of IFRS 17 and still do not have a clear implementation plan of the standard. Insurance companies shared concerns regarding the treatment of specific Brazilian products, such as pension plans, and expressed interest in key discussions taking place in Europe.

Auckland, New Zealand (29 July 2019)
Leaders/Presenters: Karl Deutschle
Presentation style with Q&A's
This event will be an intimate event that takes the global topic and brings this directly to the local insurers and what this means for them. The event will cover the latest developments, finance transformation and an interactive element.

With the success of the above events we've organised so far, we are working on planning similar events in the below territories. Please link with me if you’re interested in attending any of these future events and I’ll connect you with the appropriate local PwC IFRS 17 team.

Dublin, Ireland
Moscow, Russia
various locations, India
Hong Kong
Singapore
KL, Malaysia
Tokyo, Japan

Supporting Publication:
Read the IFRS 17 Finance Transformation publication where this series began
Supporting Blogs:
"Keep your keep people on board" by Sven Stark (PwC CH) 
"Time for a new coat of paint for old actuarial models" by James Norman (PwC CH):

Stuart Low

Stuart Low | Global IFRS 17 Business Driver
Profile | Email |  +44 (0) 7764958095

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