NEW YORK, Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The life and pensions sector is facing a rapidly-evolving and competitive environment. According to PwC US's "Life Insurance 2020: Competing for a Future" report, companies operating in this sector will need to cope with major social, technological, environmental, economic and political factors and take advantage of emerging opportunities to survive over the next 10 years. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100917/NY66894LOGO ) These factors powering change in the sector have the potential to drastically impact the role of life and pension insurers. Some of these market trends include: an aging population increasing demand for retirement income and pension solutions; advances in "big data" and analytics allowing insurers to design products that minimize complexity and meet consumers' need at different life stages; continued risk of government welfare cutbacks, which could shift retirement and benefit decisions back on consumers; shifting economies across the globe in developed and emerging countries; and increasing medical advances (e.g., wearable health monitoring devices, personal genomics) coupled with rising medical costs are increasing risks for consumers and highlighting the need for "well-being" and other pro-active health management programs. "To survive in the long term, life and pensions companies will need to actively identify and handle threats as they emerge, rather than passively responding to market changes," said Jamie Yoder, PwC's US insurance advisory practice co-leader. "Insurers will need to focus on simplifying the presentation of products and features to customers and advisors, while overcoming a complex set of processes at the back end". The "Life Insurance 2020: Competing for a Future" report identifies four key themes and related risks that insurers need to address in order to grow. They are: Two-speed global growth: The overall market for life insurance is increasing in emerging markets and decreasing in the developed world, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., life insurance assets as a percentage of overall household financial assets have been steadily decreasing over the past two decades. Leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, life insurance was viewed more as an investment, as opposed to a protection product, though guarantees and protection have been viewed more favourably since that time. In addition, the demographic changes occurring in the U.S., such as aging Baby Boomers, are creating a growing market for retirement planning and retirement income. "Growth for insurers in the life and retirement market will come from expanding into new customer segments, such as middle markets, and alternative distribution channels, such as worksite and direct, by offering more comprehensive advice and developing innovative solutions. However, insurers have to compete with other financial service providers to capture this market and therefore must create capabilities to reach a broader part of the market," added Yoder. "With these new markets, insurers will need to spend more time educating consumers on the value of life insurance and pensions.