October 18, 2016
10 Questions with the NAIC's Chief Technology Officer, Scott Morris
1. Describe the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and how it serves the state regulators and the industry.
The NAIC is a collaborative platform bringing together our national system of state-based insurance regulation. On the policy side, we serve as a forum for insurance regulators to collaborate on insurance regulation issues. We facilitate their process to develop model laws and best practices for state insurance departments. When it comes to technology, we provide a number of capabilities to states. Our systems function as a central collection point for insurer financial and market data, we provide systems to facilitate workflow between states and insurers, and we provide many other systems and technologies for insurance regulation. When it comes to collaborating on technology, we leverage NAIC expertise and resources to serve the needs of the states through more efficient solutions.
2. Could you give us some background on yourself and your role with the NAIC?
I joined the NAIC just over a year ago. I spent the previous 15 years at a regional financial institution. During that time period I primarily worked with teams focused on consumer-facing technology and new business initiatives. Some examples are consumer and commercial online banking. I worked on projects enabling online payments for commercial banking customers and development of the Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) platform, which enabled the business to be one of the top five providers of HSAs in the U.S. Like previous roles, my primary role at the NAIC is consumer facing technology for regulators, partners and the insurance industry.
3. Now that you've been with the NAIC for a few months, please describe your key learnings and unexpected challenges.
I have been pleasantly surprised at our culture of service. Everyone does what it takes to ensure state insurance regulators are enabled with tools and information to do their jobs. During a recent state satisfaction survey, we found that 98 percent of our states are happy with the services we provide.
However, like many businesses, our technology was built over many years, which creates technological silos. Those silos can create a fragmented user experience. The NAIC technology team is focused on ways to bring technology together to serve the NAIC and our members.
4. How does the NAIC engage with regulators, consumers, and the industry to drive efficient and effective regulation?
I've been greatly surprised by the openness of the organization at the NAIC. Almost everything we do is open to the public. We host regular national meetings in which representatives from consumer groups and the industry participate. In fact, we fund consumer representatives to ensure we hear their voice as we develop best practices. Along with the national meetings, we host a number of meetings and conference calls throughout the year with various groups. We hold public hearings and invite written and verbal feedback on key initiatives. This can be a challenge because each group comes at it from different angles, but the process enables a better final product.
5. Describe how the NAIC collaborates with the NIPR for electronic producer licensing.
The NAIC provides two primary services to NIPR. The first is infrastructure. The NAIC enables the NIPR to focus on build and support of producer licensing services by using shared infrastructure and shared services from the NAIC. The NIPR does not have to worry about disaster recovery or infrastructure resiliency because it is incorporated into the NAIC's data center operations. The other key service that the NAIC provides is data. The NAIC collects and standardizes producer data from all jurisdictions. It is then available to the NIPR through the national producer database for any of the producer licensing applications.
6. Describe how the NAIC collaborates with solution providers like Vertafore to help your state regulator members.
Along with the producer demographic and licensing information we collect, we provide methods to submit exams and market regulation data (regulatory actions and complaints) through web-service integrations. So systems like Vertafore Sircon for States can push and pull data through these interfaces, which eliminates the need for states to manually enter or submit data to the NAIC.
7. How does your collaboration with Vertafore benefit the industry?
The NAIC collects and provides state data to Vertafore, which then can be used for industry solutions offered by Vertafore. Increasingly, the NAIC is offering web-service interfaces that can be implemented into Vertafore solutions to interact with data in a real-time method.
8. What are the top three technology initiatives of the NAIC over the next 12 to 18 months?
The first is security. The NAIC is currently improving our overall security posture with a two-year program that includes all security aspects. The second technology project I will highlight is our data-collection system including a new business intelligence tool. This system will allow us to respond to data calls faster. Third, we are working on the implementation of an IT Service Management tool to support new processes for incident and change management.
9. How do you see the NAIC collaborating with FINRA to improve consumer protection across insurance and securities?
We currently share information between our two groups and have regular collaborative conversations with FINRA on data sharing.
10. How do you see NAIC changing from a technology perspective in terms of how it achieves its mission going forward?
As I mentioned before, our technology has grown up in silos over the last 15 to 20 years. Our approach going forward will be looking at creating a more integrated approach. One of the primary goals will be improving the customer experience by getting to one user experience for regulators and industry. Our job is to be responsive to regulator's needs in the short term, and implement strategic solutions that help enable capabilities down the road. A good example of this is our project for principle-based reserving (PBR). This initiative requires the collection of life-experience data to validate reserving methods insurers use. We could have created a one-off solution to collect life experience data, solving the immediate need. However, we took a more strategic look at the problem. The end result is a flexible technology solution that can be reused for other data collection projects, one that can be setup in a week or two instead of taking months or years to enable.
Mr. Morris recently joined NAIC as Chief Technology Officer. Prior to NAIC he was Senior Vice President of Application Development at UMB Financial, responsible for the development and support of technology solutions across multiple lines of business. During his 15 years at UMB, he was responsible for the technology to support consumer and business online banking solutions, mobile banking, online payments, mutual fund accounting, hedge fund accounting, brokerage, as well as many other consumer websites and applications. He was instrumental in the creation of the online payments product, an integrated solution processing millions of ACH and credit card payments from the web and led a technology team to develop one of the largest healthcare savings accounts (HSA) platforms in the country. Before joining UMB, Scott worked at Hallmark Cards as an Information Technology Analyst, managing the technical development of Hallmark's retail personalization group. Scott served in the United States Air Force, where he worked on B-1 and B-2 aircraft avionics. Scott graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems and earned an Executive MBA from the University of Missouri Kansas City.