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As a novice beekeeper I am learning about the complex and highly collaborative nature of a bee colony, and in becoming part of a community of keepers have become aware of a foreign threat that not only could present a danger to the bees I keep, but also to the food production capability of the United Kingdom – I am referring to that pesky insect the Asian Hornet. 

Bees have been carrying out their circle of life for millennia but are poorly equipped to deal with the power and voracious appetite of these newcomers, and they are poorly adapted to quick evolution to such a new threat.

Over the past two years there have been sightings in the UK of these new to our shores insects and up to now there invasion seems to have been nipped in the bud by observant members of the public and DEFRA.

It now occurs to me that there are parallels that can be drawn between the emerging challenge ‘my’ bees face and those faced by any community that has developed a way of working that has had little external challenge to its existence or where that challenge is now coming from a new and unanticipated direction – I refer in this case to the Insurance Industry in the UK and the emerging ‘Finsects’ – in this case Technology Centric start-up businesses – (or Instechs) – that are coming to or emerging within the UK with a voracious appetite for customer engagement and the tools to deliver a painful sting to the Insurance ‘hive’.

The parallel with the threat to Bees is also further supported by an emerging view that much of the development of the new Digital Insurance model is arriving at pace in the Asia Pacific region, for example AIA, one of the world’s largest life insurance companies, headquartered in Hong Kong, has made significant investments in the digitisation of its agency salesforce and more than 30,000 policies are now sold on a digital, paperless basis each month across more than ten countries using a proprietary point-of-sales tablet.

The response to the problem differs though for in the case of the Insurance sector there is no ‘defence force’ – certainly there is no regulatory extermination of the incomer – indeed there is the distinct possibility that in a new post Brexit world that any barriers to entry that might have been in place will soon be removed in the drive to strike new global trading arrangements.

There is of course one difference between the hive and the Insurance sector – the ability to respond

Response requires the acknowledgement that the current system is not immune to shock and that the old means of defence may no longer be sufficient to ward off the new threats.

I have heard people say that the current penetration of the Instechs is largely playing at the edge of the market but that is exactly where the Asian Hornet will lurk – at the entrance to the hive waiting for the weak moment.

So product, service and distribution innovation and collaboration in the merging finance ecosystems should now be on the strategic agenda, but perhaps, unlike the bees who are docile by nature, in this case attack may be the best form of defence.

By the way if you do happen to spot an Asian Hornet then please report sightings by email to with details of the location and a photograph if possible, or better still, there is an APP for that! Search the usual app stores for Asian Hornet Watch.


About this author

Paul Dix

Paul Dix

Vice President, Insurance

Paul Dix is head of strategy for CGI’s UK Insurance business. He also sits on CGI’s Insurance Industry Growth Council, which oversees the company’s global insurance sector business. He has held a number of senior positions within the Financial Services and IT Services industries over ...

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