I work at AXA’s headquarters as the Global Head of Women’s Market, a position aiming to promote the women’s insurance market and to design solutions that are tailored as closely as possible to the reality of women’s lives. Several years ago, whilst working in the Corporate Responsibility Department, I discovered the study SheForShield: Insure women to better protect all, conducted in 2015 by AXA, the IFC-World Bank and Accenture. I was particularly inspired by its conclusions. Indeed, contrary to certain misconceptions that underplay the role of women, it demonstrates in particular that they are regularly at the center of key economic decisions, and that they represent a significant driving force for the well-being of their families and for society at large. (see key figures below).
The Women in Insurance initiative: Why do insurers need to invest in their products and services for women?
Our field research has fundamentally changed the way that we view this market. Interviews and workshops conducted in partnership with the International Financial Corporation in India and Nigeria, as well as in-depth focus groups in five other emerging countries, revealed a huge potential for growth in insurance which is estimated to reach $1.7 trillion by 2030. The insights highlighted that while men will buy insurance products on a regular but punctual basis, women tend to seek evolving financial solutions during key life moments such as entering the workforce, maternity, entrepreneurship, retirement but also more unexpected events. This allows them to be better protected and to have the financial independence and security they require. These needs were, and still are, insufficiently taken into account by financial actors, both in emerging and mature economies.
It is important to highlight that the response to these findings is not to define specific products for women but which exclude men. It is rather about better understanding the expectations of our clients at every moment of their lives. In other words: by considering women as fully-fledged actors with their own specificities, we are therefore more in tune with society as a whole.
As such, this path has enabled us to develop 18 financial solutions in 15 countries (both emerging and mature), all of which were designed on the basis of feedback from the field and focus groups:
Shifting from products to solutions to better suit women’s expectations
For example, to specifically support women in their unofficial role of Chief Medical Officers for their household we have developed our teleconsultation services, for which 60% of users are women. These services offer solutions (pediatric, psychological, women specific advice) for the core difficulty they have shared with us which is to juggle their complex personal and professional lives.
As a second example, when it comes to preparing for retirement our research found that women are primarily concerned with future financial independence and not becoming a burden to their children. Often pressured with the conflicting priorities of meeting day-to-day finances (mortgage payments, childcare, supporting parents) and more long-term goals such as paying tertiary education and planning for retirement, women are seeking the right support to help minimize any financial and health risks that they may eventually face. As such, we have have adapted our go-to-market approach to make our solutions more explicit to these challenges in terms of the benefits provided.
Creating tailored offers for women
By acting as a genuine partner, we are able to take into account the particular concerns of women which are often specific to the country in which they live. For example, by interacting with Turkish women entrepreneurs, we have created specific services such as emergency childcare to help them avoid missing professional appointments. Globally, we have also created a LinkedIn community, WE Can network, to inspire, inform and enable women entrepreneurs to develop their networks.
In Mexico, women’s cancers (such as breast cancer) are the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 25 and 44. And yet, only 8% of women have life insurance. As such, our clients’ primary concern is to have solutions which are specifically designed for cancer prevention and support. AXA’s Mujer Unica therefore includes annual screening services as well as psychological support in order to tackle a key pain point that women had identified; how to support her and her family in coping with such a critical life event.
Meeting the needs of women... also helps men!
Finally, by listening to women’s needs we have also designed new services for family carers, the vast majority of whom are women. These innovations, however, will often benefit the whole family. For example, in the UK we have set up a 24/7 helpline so that carers have one place to go for all of their needs (financial, legal and health services).
In France we have created a long-term care insurance product, Entour’Age, which is aimed both at carers and also those who are cared for, which are of course both men and women.
There’s a long way to go, but we’re on the right track
We know that there is still a lot of room for further innovation, the initiatives above are just the first steps. Our goal now is to build a global strategy that will be deployed across all of our organizations throughout the world and which will continue to go further in areas such as safety, health and protection. We also want to share this movement more widely outside of AXA, and to enable it to grow with the main actors of the sector at value-added events, such as Financial Alliance for Women (see box below). Indeed, I am convinced that through the large-scale mobilization of all our energies we will collectively, along with other actors in the financial sector, be able to better meet the changing needs of women... and, through this, of society.
FAW’s Annual Summit: women at the heart of the banking and insurance market
AXA is hosting the annual Financial Alliance for Women summit on the theme of Building Resilience through Inclusion. This is an opportunity to exchange and work with the top banking and insurance leaders of 135 countries on issues around women’s empowerment. This is considered as a key lever for strategic growth for individuals, society and the sector’s activity.