Five Minutes with Ben Fidlow of Willis Towers Watson
We sat down at RIMS 2019 to discuss how WTW’s predictive analytics are moving beyond client risk into other business needs and how they find the talent to get them there.
Following his standing-room only session, A New Breed of Analytics: Holistic Risk Management Decision Making, we chatted with Ben Fidlow, global head of core analytics at Willis Towers Watson.
How are you using data differently?
I think we can do a lot more than we’ve ever done before. The technology, the access to data and the computing power has really changed how we do analytics. We can do predictive analytics almost on the fly, and we’re making it much more consumable. Gone are the days of the 80-page PowerPoint. Now it’s dynamic and interactive, and you can pull in other things like a client’s EBITDA or cash flow. So, we can tell a better story, and I think that’s going to change even more as we go forward.
I think our industry has been slow to get to it, but we have a couple of advantages: we’re good at data, we’re good at risk analyses, and we can empower our corporate clients who are trying to figure out what to do with data and analytics. Once we get good at big data sets and analytics we can apply it to almost anything, so I think we can branch into helping our clients beyond risk as well. It could be manufacturing process optimization, sales, M&A activity.
Are there any surprises you find when you analyze data in this way?
We’re at a level of risk transparency that we’ve never been at before and it brings up the risk tolerance discussion quicker, more specifically, and in more earnest. The analytics might say that someone is buying too much limit, but those clients might say those are risks they just don’t want and are willing to pay extra to take them off the table. Or you might have an analysis that shows someone is not buying enough, but they say they can handle it and want to spend the money elsewhere. It’s teasing out the risk tolerance discussion at a level we weren’t able to easily get to before.
How are you able to attract young, tech-savvy talent?
We’ve had luck hiring people right out of school and then building them up. The technology we’re building is so new that once people buy in they get excited about changing the industry, not just being part of the industry.