dan fiehn
dan fiehn

+44 (0)7788 591000  |  Info@fiehn.co.uk

Great partnerships and teamwork are key’ to data transfer projects. Insurance Times interview on how to complete data transfer following M&A.



The M&A market has been booming throughout the pandemic; however, upon completion of this activity, a tremendous amount of data transfer between the two businesses is usually required. What is the most efficient way for insurance firms to accomplish this task?

The standard way to move data from an acquired business is to migrate products and policies at renewal time. It’s essential firms assess the timescale, complexity and volume to decide on the best method. The ‘usual’ way can take more than 15 months to complete.

Following Co-op Insurance’s underwriting business acquisition, the a’ big-bang approach was the only way forward for us. Preparations began the moment regulatory approval was received. My team worked on the project with our software partner RDT, and less than three months later, the transfer took place over a long weekend, without a hitch.


What are the most critical considerations insurance firms need to consider when completing a data transfer after an M&A activity?

Good partnerships and teamwork are essential. We’ve worked with RDT on previous legacy replacement projects, and the success gave us the confidence this could be done. We’ve used RDT’s general administration platform, Landscape, for more than ten years, and this helped the preparations and final transfer go smoothly. It’s not a client-supplier relationship; it’s a genuine partnership.

We both worked very agilely, which was an ingredient to the project’s success. We undertook about 50 dress rehearsals between us, loading the complete data set, failing, scratching our heads and doing it again. That enterprise agility and our shared desire and tenacity underpinned our success.

Several other partners were involved in the migration, including CDL, MIB, DLX, and Markerstudy’s data transformation, UAT, and data warehouse teams. We worked long hours together, no one moaned or finger-pointed because of tiredness – there was maturity and cooperation from everyone involved. Anyone undertaking a data transfer after an M&A activity needs to rely on the partners around them.


Legacy technology can be a stumbling block for a process such as data migration after M&A – how can any challenges be mitigated?

Businesses are putting layers of complexity on top of old systems to give customers websites, portals and apps. There’s also a resourcing issue on the horizon with legacy systems, and the cost of ownership will keep rising. The more layers added to the digital capability, the more complex a migration will be – the longer it’s delayed, the deeper the problem gets.

We undertook the difficult task of transforming the data and loading it into the cloud and Landscape in less than 48 hours. That shows the computing power and intelligence of the latest technology. There’s no doubt legacy systems pose a challenge, but technology and strong partnerships can mitigate these issues.


What businesses or skills do insurance firms need in their ecosystem to complete a data transfer project successfully?

Pragmatic leadership is essential for a successful data transfer project. A business will need to undertake the work as quickly as possible to minimise its impact on its organisation. For us, this meant doing only what was necessary for the business and nothing else. Within three months, we had a whole new operation up and running. We were fully optimised, with no legacy to maintain, and didn’t increase our IT headcount. If a firm has decided to transfer data, they’ll need to set a timescale, ensure they’ve got a solid team to undertake the work, strong partners, and keep their eyes on the prize – the rewards are well worth it.

Having the Insurance Times interview me was a real privilege. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead such a competent team delivering a complex technical programme of work so successfully.


Resistance is futile: Why leaders need to focus on people ahead of technology to boost benefits

If you’d like to read more on how we overcame resistance that naturally occurred during the journey, please see an earlier article.

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Exciting times!