Swiss Re's Chief Compliance Officer on what data privacy means today

02 Dec 2015

Data protection and privacy are increasing in importance because of the amount of personal information we all share about ourselves with companies and on social media platforms. Anke D'Angelo, Chief Compliance Officer of Swiss Re, recently talked to Jennifer Davies from the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue about data privacy, data security, and big data in today's fast moving world. She shared what she sees as some of the risks and what we need to consider when thinking about how to manage this risk.

CGD: Considering companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple all have so much personal data about us, are concepts like data privacy and data protection just impossibly old fashioned?

Anke D'Angelo: Well, I think I disagree with that statement, only because I benefit from the use of new technologies like Fitbit or an iWatch where I can record my health status and my fitness status. That data gets stored somewhere in the cloud. That doesn't necessarily mean I waive my rights of data protection and privacy, but I have to admit, it will get harder to execute the rights of data protection and privacy. In the end, I trust these companies, and I honestly do believe that the companies that protect customer data from theft or from manipulation, misuse or destruction have better business models and the consumers will focus on those. So in the end those companies will win.

CGD: Is it realistic to say that the insurance industry is just a breach incident waiting to happen?

Anke D'Angelo: Companies with large amounts of data are bigger targets for thieves that have the tools and the techniques to steal data and sell it. I think it would be naïve to think that the reinsurance or insurance industry is free from this risk, especially as we collect and store consumer related data. I think the entire industry's focus should be on properly monitoring its activities, and having a really good response plan in place in case there are irregularities. I think it's not a matter of "if," but a matter of "when" we'll be facing more severe attacks.

CGD: What risks and opportunities lie in big data for the industry?

Anke D'Angelo: That's a wide ranging question. I think there are multiple risks associated with it, and one is data security. It's pretty much at the forefront of everyone's mind. Data theft is the fastest increasing activity in the last two years. Five of the six biggest events that ever happened were in the last two years. That shows the significance of data security. Related to that topic is data protection, and this is less about losing data to third parties via an attack, but more about how we're using the data we are collecting – and that we ask third parties to work on our behalf. The other risk is costs. Data collection, data aggregation, analyzing, storing, and reporting all costs money. The concept of "Oh, let's collect everything that we have and then we analyze it later," is extremely costly, so companies need a strategy in place regarding what they want to look at and what the expected benefits are. Otherwise this won't work.


Anke D'Angelo, Swiss Re's Chief Compliance Officer was moderating the discussion on "Industry perspective on the data challenge" at the 11th CRO Assembly: Technological and societal change, at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue.

The Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue also hosted the 3rd Swiss Re Symposium on Data Protection in 2014 where topics such as the future of insurance in a data-driven world and privacy compliance in a data-driven world were discussed.


Anke D'Angelo 

Chief Compliance Officer of Swiss Re

Anke D'Angelo is the Chief Compliance Officer of Swiss Re since November 2013 and is based in Zurich/Switzerland. She has been with Swiss Re for more than 19 years working in various different roles in Finance, Operational Risk Management, CEO Office, Group Internal Audit and now in Compliance, many of the positions dealing with improving the risk and control environment in the organisation.

She obtained her masters in Business Administration from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany with the focus on Insurance, Accounting and Advertising Psychology. She is an Associate in  Risk Management from the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.