In some respects the coming of the coronavirus has presented an opportunity for many businesses and for the community to press the reset button.
The enforced lockdowns. The threat of infection. The shared experience of a common foe. These and other aspects of the pandemic have exacted a terrible toll on the community’s wellbeing as well as on our general economic prosperity.
But there is another aspect of the pandemic that I think has been little explored. This is the idea that the pandemic has, much like a war or some kind of natural disaster, galvanised the community. We have come together and relied upon each other in order to get through to the other side.
We went our own way during good times. We were largely interested in ourselves, in our lifestyle, in our wellbeing. The pre-COVID world was littered with celebrities and influencers and personal brand aficionados.
However, in difficult times we are forced to think more broadly about others. Out with celebrities; in with essential workers.
As a consequence I think our communities are now stronger. Plus, we have re-focussed our daily life from the city centre to the suburban home. The mind and mood of the nation has shifted. While the pandemic has indeed brought hardship and loss for many it has also changed the thinking and the priorities of the broader community. We are now more focussed on matters like, for example, supply chain security.
I think we are prepared to pay a premium to retain skills within Australia. We are now much more concerned about protecting what we have than was the case prior to the pandemic.
Supply chain security is like a kind of insurance. Investment in defence assets is a kind of insurance.
Indeed, having a dream-run of 29 years of unbroken prosperity from 1991 (the last recession) to the time of the 2020 pandemic, delivered benefits to many. We enjoyed rising prosperity and an improving quality of life.
But year after year of prosperity also delivers something else: a tendency to complacency. If a generation or two go through their working lives only ever being exposed to a rising market, then why would you contemplate disaster?
And that may well be a legacy of the pandemic; it has sowed a seed of doubt in the Australian (and others) mind that good times can last forever.
In many respects this changed world view, from presuming good times, to insuring against bad times, is surely what lies ahead in a post-COVID Australia.
And if this is the case, that there has been, or is likely to be, a shift in the mind and mood of the Australian people, then surely the mid- to late 2020s would be the time to be in the business of insurance.
Sometimes in business you need to be where the megatrends are moving. And at a megatrend level, my argument that the post-COVID world will want protection against some kind of future disaster, means that insurance could well be in high demand in the 2020s.
Bernard Salt is one of Australia’s most thought-provoking social commentators and business analysts. He is executive director of The Demographics Group.
Follow Bernard on LinkedIn.
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