Two Sigma and WeSure: Harnessing data in investments and customer innovation 

Kenny Lam, CEO of Two Sigma Asia Pacific and Alan Lau, Chairman of Tencent WeSure.

 

Bloomberg hosted an exclusive virtual roundtable with over 30 C-suite executives in Asia to discuss the future of data ecosystems with Kenny Lam, CEO of Two Sigma Asia Pacific and Alan Lau, Chairman and CEO of Tencent WeSure.

 

Challenges in the data ecosystem

Speaking about the challenges in the data ecosystem unique to Asia, Lam said that there is a copious amount of data in the region, but not all data is useful and a lot of effort is spent to identify and make the data useful. “Nine out of ten times, you can’t use the data because of the way data is stored, and it’s impossible to go back in time to find another way to store it,” said Lam. Rather than just having access to data, speed and how data is being processed is more crucial, he added.

Use of data to manage underwriting risk is the holy grail in insuretech, but this has plenty of ratios challenges, according to Lau. He said that creating propensity models to help manage loss ratios requires substantial time – around six months – because machines need to learn. But once the model stabilizes, WeSure can cut loss ratio by half. 

Changing regulatory landscape

Like any emerging sector, regulations around data are still in flux. Conversations to test new boundaries have been more progressive in some countries over others, but overall, countries are becoming more protective of the data that can be used, analyzed or sold, according to Lam. He said that Two Sigma  “wants to be part of the ecosystem” so the company works within the system and be part of the help in finding a solution.  “As Asia grows in their data eco-systems, regulations will also evolve.  We want to bring our experience in this area to bear” Lam said

The war for talent

With close to 20% of WeSure’s IT team made up of AI scientists, retaining data scientists is a crucial aspect for insuretech. Responding to a talent retention question, Lau said, “What data scientists look for are not just the compensation package, but interesting projects. We need to be able to attract and excite data scientists to solve what the insurance industry has been trying to solve in the past 100 years and offer them a wide enough playing field to experiment.”

Lam echoed these sentiments, “Data scientists are very satisfaction-driven where they are looking for a unique project or initiative that they find impactful to the market. They are also very decentralized.”  As we build our talent base, we are looking for ways for to ensure that our projects continue to be inspiring and exciting.  That may be a better way to keep your talent than pure monetary gains”

The future of data

The internet has undoubtedly taken over many functions in financial services, but the insurance sector is probably one of the last areas for this to happen, said Lau. “Traditionally, insurance is about hedging risk, but we think the future is more about reducing risk. We are able to do as we can finally close the loop between underwriting and consumer behavior through data,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lam said that rather than one technology that disrupts everything, the next big wave will come from where technology can be applied, highlighting real estate as one of the large asset classes that can be disrupted. “A lot of data can be used to analyze demand, supply and how we look at different kinds of geographies,” he said.

The Bloomberg Future of Finance series features in-depth conversations with global thought leaders on investing, policy, economics and technology.

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