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TORONTO – Incoming Manulife (MFC.TO 1.55%) chief executive Roy Gori said on Thursday the insurance industry is “still in the dark ages” and needs to transform its technologies to adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

Speaking at the Scotiabank Financials Summit, Gori, who is taking over as CEO next month, said the vast majority of Manulife’s technology budget is spent on maintaining existing systems rather than investing in new technologies.

“We need to transform our business to be much more of a technology-driven company,” he said. “We need to become a much more customer-orientated organization and quite frankly the entire industry does. In many ways, if I’m absolutely honest, our industry is still in the dark ages.”

Gori, who will replace Chief Executive Donald Guloien, said customers are looking to be able to buy insurance products instantly rather than be bogged down with paperwork.

“If you apply for an insurance product you’ll get a 16-page application form with 120 questions more often that not. It’s still very paper-based, very manual and, as a result, our industry net promoter scores are really very poor,” he said.

Gori said embracing new technology was key to changing processes.

“Customers engage today on their phones with other organizations in a seamless, transparent and very efficient way,” he said. “That’s not how they work with the insurance industry, so we need to transform our technology footprint.”

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