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Technological investment is key to future growth, says Canada Life advisory executive
Hugh Moncrieff is executive vice president, advisory network and industry affairs with Great-West Lifeco, parent company to Canada Life
What with economic challenges, volatile markets and changing consumer behaviour, businesses face plenty of headwinds. Insurance is no exception. Hugh Moncrieff, executive vice president, advisory network and industry affairs, Canada Life Assurance Co., with Winnipeg-based Great- West Lifeco Inc., spends a lot of time thinking about how the insur- ance industry and advisors can successfully navigate the unknown terrain ahead.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Great-West Lifeco hit the ground running in 2020 following the consolidation of its three insurance subsidiaries — Great-West Life Assurance Co., London Life Insurance Co. and Canada Life Assurance Co. — under the Canada Life banner. Moving to one brand and one product shelf meant a unified digital presence, and Moncrieff says he is pleased with first-quarter sales. Within Canada, sales were up 14% in the quarter year over year, to $3.6 billion. The
The firm’s continued focus on digital innovation means advisors will have a new tool, Advisor Workspace, to serve clients this year. Moncrieff spoke with us about Advisor Workspace as well as about other developments.
QWhat’s your priority for the next year, given the economic challenges resulting from the pandemic?
 increase was due mostly to higher sales in segregated funds, third-party mutual funds and individual insurance sales, a report to shareholders said.
Winning companies will be those that create flexible, customized, digitally enabled products for clients
policy delivery.
Other moves were increasing our thresh-
old for accelerated claims to $100,000 from $50,000 and underwriting up to $2 million [from $1 million] in life insurance without vitals or fluids for those [aged] 18 to 40. [Canada Life and other insurers dropped premiums on group benefits as claims
Digital investment will be key for fur-
ther growth. “Almost all of our current
processes will be digitally enabled in the
future,” Moncrieff says. “We’re looking at where we can have the biggest impact now, and investing heavily in that.”
decreased during the pandemic.]
While everyone, including our advisors, adapted well to our new
virtual operating model, we’re getting comfortable with leading teams 100% virtually to manage large-scale projects such as product launches and technology deployments.
Our second priority is keeping our promises to the 12 million Canadians we serve through group plans, individual products and investments.
When Investment Executive spoke to Moncrieff at the end of March, the pandemic had changed the world — but not Moncrieff’s views
on digital technology. At that time, many workers in industries who didn’t lose their jobs were forced to work remotely. While the transition to remote work wasn’t seamless for Canada Life, digital capabilities already in place helped the firm meet the challenge, Moncrieff says.
Our first priority is the health and well-being of our staff, advi-
sors and customers. When the pandemic began, our firm — and the industry as a whole — quickly transitioned to working at home and leveraging digital. We transitioned more than 90% of our staff to working remotely. We were in a strong position to start, because we had already successfully migrated communications systems to online, and had also launched SimpleProtect, our digital onboarding tool, about a year earlier. We had also leveraged e-signatures and electronic
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