How to Work with Your IT Team on Insurance Statutory Reporting
IT teams have the same goals as you do: they want you to be able to do your best work in the most efficient, secure way possible.
But there's another layer of complexity for insurance industry finance, accounting, and risk teams. Your IT team probably isn't an expert in insurance statutory reporting, just as you might not be an expert in software or security requirements. That means you'll have to work together when you evaluate software, so you can both meet your goals.
Help IT help you. Let's start with the basics, including the questions they might have for you.
What is insurance statutory reporting?
If they aren't already aware, let your IT team know that regulations affect your work in a lot of ways. In the context of companies under the purview of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), statutory reporting conveys an insurance company's ability to pay customers' claims. Since it zeroes in on a company's health, insurance statutory reporting focuses on a company’s balance sheet. Any technology you adopt to streamline statutory reporting could also help co-workers who touch balance sheets and other financial reports.
What's required in an insurance statutory report?
While NAIC sets standards nationally, insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Teams prepare statutory quarterly and annual financial statements in accordance with statutory accounting principles (SAP), but state regulations could take precedence. Many companies file statutory reports to multiple states, whose rules may vary.
Answering your IT team's toughest questions
With a basic understanding of your world, your IT folks will understand how great technology can help automate tedious parts of the statutory reporting process and will want to work with you on building a strong business justification.
1. What pain points are you trying to solve?
One way to document this is to build a flowchart to map your current process, identify risks, and highlight opportunities for improvement. But some challenges I've heard from stat reporting teams include:
- Redundant information presented many times, in different, disconnected documents that must all be updated one by one and across multiple entities
- Gathering data from several entities without knowing when each entity can provide the needed information
- Lack of checks and balances to ensure each instance of the same value is consistent across annual statements, audited financials, and management discussion and analysis (MD&A)
2. How will the software you want to buy fit into the overall ecosystem of other applications or platforms you're using today?
Does it meet your organization's security requirements? Are APIs available to connect or sync the new application to the other programs you already use?
3. Will the software solution you're evaluating provide short- and long-term benefits?
Will it accommodate growth and expansion across different reports and teams?
4. What features are "must-haves"?
Based on the pain points I hear over and over from insurance statutory reporting teams, I'd say:
- A centralized platform for data gathering (ideally one in which entities can enter information in the platform themselves, so the burden of gathering information doesn't fall on the core reporting team alone)
- Dynamic linking, so information that appears over and over is consistent across the board, even as numbers change
- Style guide to quickly ensure proper formatting
- Version control to make sure everyone's always working from the latest version of a document (cloud solutions tend to inherently take care of this, with the ability to have several people work on the same document at once)
- Digital review capabilities, which we discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic are important as people work from home
Your IT team can bring a unique perspective to your software search. Workiva Chief Operating Officer Julie Iskow, who has held technology leadership roles throughout her career, recommends not just automating or digitizing manual tasks with new software, but using your software to completely transform how you work. Once you have automated time-consuming manual tasks, how can you rethink business processes, collaboration, and communication?
"Work smarter, better, and simplify. You'll get more out of the technology if you do," she says.
Adopting new technology and making use of all its capabilities across your entire organization probably won't happen all at once. Prioritize what you'd like to see from your new technology, and build a roadmap for implementation, innovation, and improvement.
At Workiva, we've helped insurance companies become more efficient at statutory reporting, including one team that is saving more than 1,000 hours on report preparation each year. If you'd like to see how we could help your statutory reporting team, request a demo, and let's talk.
And don't forget to invite IT.
About the Author
Arthy Kumar is the Director of Product Marketing and Financial Services Industry Principal at Workiva. She drives the go-to-market strategy, execution, and success of reporting and compliance solutions for banking, investment, and insurance companies. Arthy’s previous roles at Workiva include Director of Program Management for Investments and Subject Matter Expert. Before joining Workiva in 2012, Arthy spent 14 years at Vanguard and MetLife. Her experience includes financial planning, portfolio analysis, relationship management of large institutional clients, and people management. She is a CFP® (Certified Financial PlannerTM) professional and a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).