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Major focus on investment and innovation

Einar Hedman, IT Team Manager at SEB Life & Pension
Einar Hedman, IT Team Manager at SEB Life & Pension

SEB’s pension company is on a journey to modernise its entire IT landscape. “It’s great that we have this major focus and are able to invest and innovate,” says Einar Hedman, IT Team Manager at SEB Life & Pension.

Einar Hedman is the manager of an IT organisation of some 170 people, of whom 100 are based in Sweden and just over 70 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They work in a fully integrated way across borders and within the framework of the unit’s agile organisation.

Einar has spent his entire working life in the insurance industry, first with administrative development and later with IT development. He has worked at SEB Life & Pension since 2007 and for the past nine years as IT TManager.

How have IT operations changed during this period?

“During the first years, the job was very much about making adjustments in our core systems as soon as we won procurements, signed agreements on new occupational pension plans or faced new regulations. It costs both time and money when you need to make changes to the old mainframe-based basic systems and in parallel build modern interfaces that interact with the old systems.

“Now we have embarked on a journey to modernise our entire IT landscape. The ultimate goal is to create flexibility so that we can easily make offers that can adapt to meet the needs of our customers, distributors and partners.”

The modernisation is designed to decouple the core insurance systems from what lies above them. In this upper layer, the goal is to create modern interfaces that can be used, for example, for self-service for customers, be built into business processes for the people who sell SEB’s pension products or to streamline internal administration.

“We talk about making data consumable so that it can be used, for example, for advisory services, preparation of tender documents or development of internal processes without affecting the core systems. When the data has then been used in this way, it is sent back to the coresystems which can devote themselves to what they are good at, namely processing large volumes of data with high operational reliability.”

What is needed to meet customers in the future?

“We must be able to meet customers where they want to be met and to increase flexibility so that our corporate customers can adapt solutions to suit their needs. Some companies, for example, want to pay for pension advice for their employees while others want this to be offered as a voluntary extra service that employees pay for themselves. We must move from one size fits all to flexibility.”

Today, SEB Life & Pension is a pure-play product company. This means that all sales take place either through SEB’s banking operations or via external insurance brokers and partners.

How does this affect IT operations?

“For us, it’s important that we become very good at creating interfaces with our distributors so that in the long run they can offer our products in their own interfaces. An advisor at SEB, for example, should not need to work in a separate system from us but be able to produce a quote for insurance in the same environment in which he or she processes a mortgage.”

What’s the most fun about your job?

“Right now it is actually that we get to invest and innovate. It isn’t often you get to do this at this level. It is attractive for both existing and new employees to have an opportunity to build new things in the most modern environments and to modernise the old systems,” he says.