Modern, Relevant & Diverse – Sian Fisher, CEO, CII
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance is Sian Fisher, CEO of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). In this episode, Mark Geoghegan chats to Sian about her modernising agenda at the CII, the highlights and lowlights of running a professional body through Brexit, and Covid and her vision on ensuring that a traditional institution remains relevant in today’s world. Mark and Sian also discuss innovative technology, algorithms in today’s insurance process, and data-driven decisions.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks Sian to reflect on her time as CEO. Sian discusses that when she was looking to join the CII, she made it clear that if they wanted to push a modernization agenda, she was the right person. Sian discusses the CII’s manifesto to keep it modern, relevant, and diverse. “I think in common with a lot of historical organisations. The CII maybe lost a little bit of the why because it had been quite focused on the what and the how, which is perfectly understandable,” says Sian, adding “so I think one of the things I hope I did was you know really give it back that why and focus back on the charter and say you know it´s about building public trust and without trust we can´t do anything.”
Keeping on the theme of modernisation, Sian discusses how the historical infrastructure was potentially holding back people and the institute from moving forward. Looking at what was best for the people working there, and as a professional body with a big challenge for the future, Sian talks about how the old CII building was not designed to support a modern IT infrastructure. The decision to move out of its heritage site to a facility that would allow it to move forward with its vision was a key achievement for Sian. Commenting on this, Sian says, “But I did feel that people were sort of a bit trapped in the past because there were quite a lot of historic infrastructure things that needed sorting out. First of all, the IT system – just basic stuff – how can people really feel that they´re part of a modern world if they come in every day and everything that they are doing and everything that they are using and everything that they are seeing is not. That´s bound to have an impact. So, it was about saying this is not a heritage organisation this is right at the centre of things today.”
As Sian’s departure from the CII was recently announced, Mark asks what type of agenda she would like to see her successor pursue. Sian reflects on her time CEO as and what the next leader may focus on, “I sincerely hope that a lot of the organisational work that we´ve done will free my successor up to be almost entirely focused on the external elements of what the professional body can do, and I think that three major sections of the consultation kind of sum this up really.”
With innovative technology increasingly adopted by the industry, Mark asks if algorithms and data need the equivalent of an ACII, Sian remarks, “If we’re to have ethical use of data, and if we’re to have ethical use of chatbots and all of this sort of thing, obviously you don’t make it sit down in a leisure centre in Sheffield and do that. But the process that you would go through to help a person to do things properly is actually exactly the same thought process that you would go through with any programme or algorithm.”
To find out more, listen to the entire podcast.