Equisoft is a global provider of software solutions for insurance and property management.
Based in Montreal, COVID-19 faced the challenges and established a 10-person office in Sydney by the end of 2020.
The new on-site team is central to the company’s presence in Australia and to the opportunities that are being capitalized on across Asia and the Pacific.
The case paper explains why Australia resonates in a key position in the digital solutions of the enterprise, including Vice President Equisoft EMEA & APAC, Simon Richardson,
Why Australia’s office was the following logical step forward in Equisoft’s global technological transformation opportunities in the Australian superannuation industry, how Austrade helped the company to move quickly into the market.
Australia has an Asia-Pacific entry point
Richardson states that Equisoft’s main attractions were the parallels with Canada and South Africa in the insurance regulations and strong cultural alignment.
‘Sometimes this cultural dimension is ignored,’ he said. “However, it helped us effectively develop business and quickly understand how to employ the team. For us, establishing an Australian company was relatively easy.
“It only made sense to have a permanent presence in Australia.” ‘There in Asia-Pacific region we are presenting increasingly business opportunities. Australia is for us in the region a springboard. In Fiji, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, our Australian staff members are already cooperating with other global centres to support prospective clients.
A market for banking, insurance, and pension funds that is resilient
The insurance sector in Australia is mature and fiercely competitive. The top 20 banks in the world are all Australian. The country’s superannuation (pension) market, worth $2 trillion, is one of the world’s largest.
‘Our partner Oracle Insurance was engaged by Westpac for their superannuation business, so we put our toes into the Australian market,’ explains Richardson. ‘As we assisted Oracle with the delivery, we realized what a fantastic environment we were in.’ Customer relationship management, claims, policy administration, agency management, planning and forecasting, e-applications and signatures, and compliance are all part of Equisoft’s end-to- end system. Over 75 of the world’s largest financial institutions use it. The organization is looking into partnering with several financial services companies in Australia.
For superannuation, the future is digital.
Superannuation funds all around the world are looking to implement data management and administration solutions that interact seamlessly with new digital technology and use data analytics to personalize services. Equisoft, according to Richardson, has the mission clarity and expertise to achieve those goals.
He explains, ‘We’re concentrating our business development efforts in Australia’s superannuation, insurance, and wealth management industries.’ ‘Over the years, we’ve developed a set of digital products that we can deploy with little customization.
‘With ClearView, our first large-scale project in Australia is for risk or protection goods related to superannuation, which will be made available as an end-to-end Software as a Service (SaaS) capability. I see a lot of potential for follow-up, especially with our SaaS model, where clients desire simple access to skills.’
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) oversees financial institutions in Australia, including banking, insurance, and superannuation. It is in charge of safeguarding the interests of depositors, insurance policyholders, and members of superannuation funds.
‘It is critical to recognize APRA’s influence on business decisions and business arguments,’ adds Richardson. ‘While the rules governing superannuation in Australia differ from those in other places where we do business, they are close enough that we can readily modify our solutions and use our knowledge.’
Having access to a pool of tech-savvy employees
The company benefited from Australia’s reputation for developing outstanding tech talent.
‘Australia undoubtedly has a depth of IT expertise,’ adds Richardson. ‘It was clear early on
that the high-level capabilities we required to deliver our products were readily available.’
Sydney was chosen because it provided us with a highly skilled IT industry, an innovative
culture, and access to professional partners and services.
‘The value of establishing a business in Australia is Australia itself,’ he argues. ‘From an
Equisoft standpoint, we are offering a global footprint; we are covering all corners of the
globe.’ Being in Australia lends legitimacy to our efforts to expand our global business.
Make use of local vendors and their knowledge.
Richardson admits that setting up an office during COVID-19 was difficult. ‘We have a lot of experience working remotely,’ he says. ‘We have 600 employees spread across five continents, and we’ve been utilizing global resources for the past seven years.’
But to do everything remotely, without the option of traveling to major engagement milestones, was a whole different ballgame.’
Local government agencies were crucial in this regard.
We mostly depended on recruitment agents and flexible contracting agreements in the early stages to get the company up and running, says Richardson.
“Trying to work out superannuation providers, payroll providers, and similar arrangements from the start would have put us under a lot of stress. They provided us with extensive advice on pay rates, what we should be giving, the local language for specific tasks, and the people we needed to hire. “
My recommendation to anyone entering the market is to not go it alone while assembling a team. It’s a lesson that’s been drilled into my head. You can’t afford to hire the incorrect people, especially when you’re just getting started in a new country.