Confused.com is the UK’s first digital platform for insurance comparison and one of the leading brands in the sector, generating over one million quotes per month for consumers. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the business has seen a substantial rise in enquiries as customers shop around to protect themselves at this uncertain economic time and get the best value as financial savings are more important than ever. Confused.com launched a Coronavirus hub in March to provide financial advice. Since then, it has seen a surge in enquiries.
Louise O’Shea is CEO of Confused.com. She has almost trebled profits in three years from £10.1m in 2017 to £29.4m in 2020. In the last year alone and for a second year in a row, Louise has grown profits by 40% (from £20.4m in 2019 to £29.4m in 2020), and the site is now ranked as number two among all comparison sites today for car insurance market share. Louise is also a founding Board member of FinTech Wales, an organisation creating FinTech talent and investment and under her lead, Confused.com is a member of the Tech Talent Charter addressing inequality in the UK tech sector. She is passionate about running a purpose-led business that focuses on empowering people to choose better.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
It’s been slow. Established financial services firms haven’t innovated until recently because they haven’t had to. But now they’re waking up and realising that they need to develop innovations of their own in order to compete with new entrants that are starting to turn the heads of customers and their industry peers. Their size is their biggest hurdle along with their governance processes and legacy systems. It’s these challenges which hinder their new initiatives before they see the light of day.
In an attempt to overcome this, there has been a rise in exciting partnerships between incumbents and new companies. Incumbent financial services firms have the power of established brands, substantial customer bases, large datasets, deep pockets and much more, while the start-up brings the ability to better ideate, test and learn, and move so much faster. When you look at the biggest fintech innovation of our time, Open Banking, some incumbents adapted rather slowly. By combining the offering of smaller start-ups with existing players, the industry was able to deliver a much stronger customer experience.
How has this changed over the past few years?
To get ahead, you’ve got be proactive. Rather than reacting to market changes and partnering with start-ups to solve a problem, large corporates have been looking at how they can improve their own offering. This involves a review of two fundamental things: operating models and company culture. Incumbents are being forced to rethink the old ways of operating so they can innovate at speed – and there’s been a rise in adopting a start-up culture and structure to support this.
It’s really important if you want to attract the very best talent and it’s something that we’ve always focused on at Confused.com. To provide a best-in-class tech platform, I need the very best data analysts and engineers on our team. We offer new talent access to the best resources and expertise combined with the opportunity to work for an organisation that has a real and unrelenting customer-centric focus. How do I know this works? Our financial results and our headcount are both growing!
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
Confused.com was built with a simple purpose: to empower people to make better decisions. Having a clear guiding principle that underlines everything we do has really shaped our company culture. This purpose hasn’t fundamentally changed since we started in 2002 – but our focus on customers means that we’re evolving our offering to meet their changing needs. We’re building out a relevant and diverse offering, from re-mortgage products to pet insurance and beyond!
What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
We’ve recently been focusing on bringing comparison to more people via strategic partnerships with the likes of Uswitch and Quidco. We’re very excited to have recently launched the first-ever Alexa Skill and Facebook Messenger tool for comparing car insurance, modernising the way people use our services. Using voice activation, social media and app technology, we offer people a faster means of comparing insurance policies across multiple channels. At the end of the day, we’re constantly on the lookout for clever ways to solve our customers’ problems and make their lives easier.
What benefits have these brought?
We’re in the fantastic position of reaching more customers and delivering a better user experience. We have enabled faster, better journeys that get the right product, at the best price, at the right time for customers. I’m immensely proud of the fact that Confused.com has allowed customers to save over £5bn in the last 10 years and we look forward to continuing to increase competitiveness in the industry for the benefit of the consumer.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
One of the core challenges that the insurance industry must confront is the issue of trust. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in financial services is down once again since 2019 and the industry achieves the lowest trust score compared to all other sectors. There’s immense frustration and apathy that has endured among consumers since before the financial crisis. At Confused.com we are focused on making sure the insurance industry hasn’t lost sight of the founding principle of insurance: to protect consumers from financial loss. The insurance industry must continue to look after people’s economic wellbeing, particularly at a time when everyone needs support most.
Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?
We work hard with customers and insurers to make sure the customer gets the right outcome. Our platform enables customers to see the market transparently. We know that building trust and understanding is really important, which is why we focus strongly on clear communications and best-in-class products. By working with insurers to help them help customers, we will increase trust in the industry over time.
It’s been a busy three years at Confused.com and despite the challenges of 2020, we’ve come out the other side stronger than ever. We’ve been able to leverage decades of expertise and the skillset of our fantastic team to deliver empowerment and great value to our customers. There is no end of opportunities to grow Confused.com and it’s incredibly rewarding to be at the helm of a fintech that has genuine purpose and never-ending ambition.