Electronic Chat with Jason Liu, CEO, Zywave
Laura Mazzuca Toops | November 30, 2020
Jason Liu is CEO of Zywave, a Milwaukee, Wisc.-based insurtech provider of cloud-based insurance sales management, client delivery, content and analytics solutions. More than 6,000 carriers, HCM service providers, agencies and brokerages worldwide—including all of the top 100 U.S. insurance firms—use Zywave solutions. In September, Zywave was acquired by private investment firm Clearlake Capital Group, and its growth trajectory hinges on robust M&A activity. The company has made two major acquisitions in the last month alone: data technology provider Advisen, and ITC, a leading provider of marketing, rating, and management software and services to the insurance industry.
Please share a little about your background and Zywave’s history.
Zywave’s story begins in the 1990s, when we were just a handful of people operating out of a third-generation, full-service insurance agency. What started as an in-house project to develop internal tools for our own brokers and clients soon grew into something bigger. Recognizing the opportunity to bring our technology and expertise to a greater audience, we started Zywave and officially entered the software industry in 1995.
Today, we’ve evolved from a company with a singular product and vision into an industry-leading technology company with the most expansive product portfolio on the market. We work with all of the top 100 U.S. insurance agencies and serve more than 15,000 insurance organizations globally.
I joined the company in 2018 with over 20 years of experience leading organizations across the world, from here to central Europe and back. Previously, I served as CEO of SAVO, UC4 Software and Univa UD.
Zywave’s mission statement is to lead the insurance tech industry with the most comprehensive cloud platform solutions that automate workflows and drive business growth. We are an essential partner, leveraging robust data and rich content to empower smart business decisions. With an open and expansive portfolio of sales and content management, client delivery and analytics solutions, we automate the conventional so your advice can be exceptional.
Has Zywave’s acquisition by Clearlake Capital changed the company’s strategy? How and why?
Zywave’s strategy has remained unchanged since the Clearlake acquisition. Through both organic growth via R&D investment, as well as through strategic acquisitions, our goal is to provide the best and most innovative portfolio of solutions to our partners in the insurance industry. We invest and grow, so our partners have the tools they need to grow their businesses. Clearlake shares the same growth mindset, which is why it is such a good fit with Zywave. With the backing by Clearlake, we plan to accelerate our strategic growth strategy even further, as is evidenced by the fact that we’ve already done two acquisitions in our first two weeks as partners.
What is the main underlying strategy behind Zywave’s most recent acquisitions?
The main strategy behind all of our acquisitions is to strengthen and supplement our already market-leading portfolio of solutions, while also expanding to serve additional markets. With Advisen, we have the opportunity to significantly enhance our data and content offerings, while also increasing our presence in the U.K. and Europe. With ITC, we will round out our front-office solutions with the addition of a personal lines rating system, as well as an agency management system for personal and commercial lines. These new solutions enhance the already unrivaled sales, marketing and agency management solutions in our Sales Cloud, and enable us to serve independent agencies across all lines of business, whether it be employee benefits, personal lines or commercial.
What is Zywave’s philosophy regarding the insurance distribution system?
Zywave is committed to supporting the entire insurance distribution system, whether that is helping independent agents find and engage with customers or helping to strengthen the connections between carriers and brokers. We are dedicated to enabling insurance professionals help their clients make all insurance transactions easier, simpler and better.
Has the COVID pandemic changed Zywave’s business approach? If so, how?
No, the pandemic has not changed our business approach much at all, with the exception of us doing more digital instead of in-person selling. The purpose of Zywave’s solutions is to help streamline processes, automate, and keep insurance professionals connected, both internally and with their customers. With the shift to remote workforces, the pandemic has accelerated the need for insurance agencies to digitize their processes.
Additionally, Zywave’s industry-leading content library and content management system, which provides information and resources to help educate and engage insurance professionals and their clients, has become even more critical. Throughout the pandemic, we have helped educate insurance professionals on the latest legislation and guidelines surrounding COVID-19, and also provided insurance professionals with tools, resources and educational pieces they could pass along to their clients—other businesses / employers—and the employers could pass along to their staff. We have, of course, provided these resources to our partners, but Zywave also created a free COVID-19 Resource Center where anyone could go to download critical content relating to the pandemic.
Overall, Zywave has seen a strong year in terms of sales. From an M&A perspective, our strategy to achieve growth via acquisitions has remained unchanged.
What are the company’s plans for the next year?
Zywave plans to stay the course. We will continue to invest in organic growth, as well as growth through M&A. We will maintain a high level of product innovation, while also working to integrate the new solutions we’ve acquired. We will continue to offer the highest level of services and support to our industry partners. And we will maintain our promise of delivering the best and most expansive portfolio of solutions to our partners to help them streamline and automate processes, ultimately driving their business growth.
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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
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