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Insurers to rely on acquisitions and partnerships to transform business, innovate and fuel growth: new KPMG survey

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Insurers to rely on acquisitions and partnerships to transform business, innovate and fuel growth: new KPMG survey

Facing sluggish industry growth and agile new competition, insurance executives are actively pursuing acquisitions and partnerships to transform and grow their businesses, according to a new report from KPMG International, Accelerated evolution – M&A, transformation and innovation in the insurance industry. In fact, 80 percent of insurance executives surveyed for the report expect to seek one to three acquisition targets or partnership opportunities over the next three years.

The majority of insurers are intending to make acquisitions that could transform their organization for the future, rather than merely enhance their current business and operating models.

More than 60 percent of the 200 executives surveyed globally said transforming their business or operating model would be the key factors driving acquisitions, while just 21 percent identified enhancing their current model as the key factor.

“Insurers are competing for market share in a slow-growth environment, that is experiencing an influx of dynamic new insurtech players,” said Laura Hay, Head of Global Insurance for KPMG International. “They know they can’t rely just on organic growth to meet their objectives, so alliances and acquisitions become essential as insurers look to engage with customers in new and different ways, and gain access to innovative operating capabilities and technology infrastructure to reshape their business and drive future growth.”

Cross-border deals expected to dominate
In terms of geography, a majority of insurance executives are looking for inorganic opportunities outside their country of domicile, with 66 percent expecting to conduct cross-border deals, while just 32 percent say they expect deals to be focused domestically. The distinction is particularly telling with respect to partnerships and alliances over the next three years, with 39 percent expecting these to be cross-border and only six percent anticipating domestic alliances.

North America, particularly the US, is widely expected by the insurance executives surveyed to have the most insurance M&A activity in the coming three years. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the region where insurers have the most partnership opportunities, and Western Europe is expected to drive relatively more divestiture activity.

Identifying the right, transformational deals
Intending to do more deals is one thing, but are insurance organizations up to the challenge of identifying and successfully executing the right deals? Only ten and seven percent of executives, respectively, say they are extremely likely to find a deal that is a strategic fit for their business and operating model. Moreover, a majority believe their organization’s capabilities for deal sourcing, evaluation and execution are lagging, with 72 percent saying their deal sourcing objectives aren’t highly aligned with their corporate strategy and 72 percent rating their capabilities for evaluating a target’s strategic fit as moderate to low.

To accelerate their transformation goals, an emerging trend for insurers is setting up dedicated capabilities, including corporate venture capital (CVC) teams, to acquire and accelerate innovation. Eighteen percent of insurers surveyed indicated they either already had an established CVC or had plans to establish one, with the top ranked objective being acquiring innovation for business model transformation.

“To realize value from their deals, insurers need to rethink their approach and their capabilities,” points out Ram Menon, Global Head of Insurance Deal Advisory for KPMG International. “Insurers need to redefine deal success — from acquisition strategy to integration execution — set out a clear path for transformation applying holistic design thinking, accelerate innovation by standing up an inorganic innovation engine, and more importantly, resist short-term thinking. Transformation is not a ‘one-and-done’ event.”

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 1

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.

Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.

The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.

Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.

Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.

Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.

“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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