Breaking Free of “That’s How It’s Always Been Done!”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from George Washington University in 1973, Mitch Blaser entered the insurance industry as a staff accountant at Marsh & McLennan, where he rose to a position of executive leadership over the course of nearly three decades. In 2001, he joined Swiss Re Americas, a major reinsurance company, as CFO. Mitch Blaser accepted an offer from Ironshore, a startup insurance firm headquartered in Bermuda, to join its executive team in 2004, and he today serves as the COO of the global firm and as the CEO of its Bermuda operation.

The insurance industry, which has been a key player in the world’s economy for centuries, has developed ways of doing things that likely were cutting edge when they were first devised. Unfortunately, the industry has been slow to shed those ancient processes, and what may have been a cutting-edge process 200 years ago is today little more than a time-wasting anachronism. Consider, for example, the practice of paper applications completed by clients, with the information then integrated into the company’s database by manual keyboard entry or scanning, two approaches with a high potential for error. The industry deals with massive amounts of information, and even with the advent of sophisticated information technology, it has not successfully developed a way to manage that information efficiently.

In an article published in CapGemini, Mitchell Blaser explains that while most firms today are trying to manage the massive amount of information they must deal with, there are still significant problems, some related to data ownership by different teams, and others related to that part of the insurance business that relies on human expertise and judgment.

Ironshore has several divisions dealing with different types of insurance. Rather than have each division devote a portion of its resources to information management, the firm created a separate division, Ironserve, exclusively to serve each of the business entities by processing their data, standardizing the way information is processed and stored within Ironshore. The next step is for companies to work together to create an industrywide standard.

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