Janet Ling: The Power Broker Navigating the Intersection of Tech and Insurance
It’s hard to imagine now — what with machine learning built into our internet searches, ChatGPT becoming a household name and smartphones sitting in every hand — but technology even five years ago is nothing like it is today. (For perspective, 5G was first introduced in 2019 — a mere four years ago, and it is now a part of our everyday.)
On top of that, the tech industry encompasses so many facets of our digital world, from the aforementioned smartphones to fintech to cryptocurrency, autonomous vehicles, clean energy … and more.
It’s a big space with a lot of innovation all happening at once.
Which is why it takes a special kind of broker to navigate that world between tech and insurance.
“Not only do technology companies span a wide range of services, but also, by nature, our clients are often disrupters in their respective spaces, so they’re doing something cutting edge or new,” said Janet Ling, broker, Aon.
“It’s a very exciting space to specialize in, and it’s still growing. The insurance market is very interested in it and will look at the brokers to understand the latest from their clients,” she said.
Operating out of the firm’s San Francisco office, Ling is accustomed to Silicon Valley clients and their unique tech challenges. But “the challenge is also what’s exciting,” she relayed, “because I’m working with clients that are disrupters. It’s constantly something new.”
That go-getter attitude and eagerness to learn has served Ling — and her clients — well, as seen in her 2023 Technology Power Broker win.
But even with all the excitement and access to some of the most cutting-edge tech out there, Ling remains steadfast and humble in bringing her clients the right insurance solutions each day.
AI on the Rise
Part of getting the right solutions into the hands of her clients comes down to staying on top of the growing tech landscape. Ling spends her days in a world of innovation, so she has a few tricks up her sleeve to keep herself keen on these changes.
“Tech isn’t too unlike any other industry in that you just have to do your homework,” she said.
Research and staying in communication with underwriters enable her to know what’s going on and what solutions exist for her clients.
Plus, doing her homework prepares Ling for the insurance questions that inevitably arise when clients are looking to bring new tech to the fore, like one area of note gaining traction: the fast-paced pursuit of artificial intelligence.
“What I’ve been reading right now promises that AI is going to change everything. Not just insurance but how we interact with technology as a whole,” Ling said.
“At its best, I can imagine it being a sophisticated prediction model. It would be able to enhance decision making and productivity. It could promise to one day really help companies determine their individual customized insurance products.”
But in order to do that, Ling said insurance companies will have to play their part in developing specialized insurance products to support AI and the companies looking incorporate it into their business models.
Ling is also playing her part, because she understands that client interest in AI is growing and the tech behind its adoption can change very fast.
“I’m going to stay on top of it and embrace it as much as I can,” she said. She’s also going to take her broking philosophy of collaboration and use it to further help her clients in their AI pursuit.
“I lean very heavily on the experience of my team, as well as underwriters. You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel every time [there’s a new tech innovation]; you just need to engage your client, understand their service, their product, how they operate and what their largest insurance needs are.”
Broker Beginnings and Tech Futures
A philosophy like that doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time, experience and understanding of the brokering world to really carve out what a successful approach looks like. It’s the kind of dedication that distinguishes a Power Broker and Rising Star like Ling in the brokering field.
However, Ling didn’t set off on her career journey with insurance top of mind.
She fell into the world of insurance “without much knowledge of it outside of the home and auto insurance that your family buys on a personal level.”
But she has found her home in this industry, compelled by how deeply insurance is intertwined within society. Everything, from employing staff to running a business, requires some level of coverage.
And the real fun begins when this broker can sink her teeth into a client’s unique requests and enable them to carry out their business’s mission.
“Once you start working with clients to really understand how their business is run, it’s such insight to the behind-the-scenes operations that it really keeps me invested,” Ling said.
And just as technology changes and grows, Ling is also watching how the industry is shaped right alongside it.
“Insurance requires creativity,” she said. “That begins with more diversity of people with different backgrounds. I’m looking forward to collaborating with different creative minds, because insurance problems are humbling. Every day, it’s a different challenge.” &