Leads Allianz Malaysia into the top spot
QTell us a little about your career thus far and why you chose the insurance industry. I started out at the tender age of 17 years at an apprenticeship in insurance and finance. Hailing from Stuttgart, it was uncommon for me to venture away from automobiles but this is precisely what I did. I also wanted to do something non technical. I did various things throughout the apprenticeship that included coaching tennis in the evenings before I realized it was time to buckle down and get serious. I started in Allianz in 1983 and have been on board ever since. I was privileged enough to be one of the few to be recruited into global training program which brought me to Indonesia for six months. I then returned to Indonesia as the Director of Sales & Marketing. A few years later, I went back to Germany as a Branch Manager for a sales region and ultimately I was chosen to yet again return to Indonesia as the CEO of Indonesia which then made me Country Head. A major top tier reshuffle brought me to the shores of Kuala Lumpur in late 2010 as CEO of Allianz Malaysia.
QWhat are your key leadership principles? Have they worked for you in South East Asia? A winning culture where everyone enjoys coming to work each day is something that I have brought with me throughout my culture and it applies to both myself and my team. I believe in open and transparent communication in an environment where everyone is open and enthusiastic to change. I’ve also come to realize that there is a high willingness within Asia to learn, commit and engage. This has added a lot of depth to our teams in always pushing boundaries and adopting a ‘can do’ attitude which is synonymous with a winning culture.
QHow does Allianz Malaysia stand apart from its competitors in the Malaysian market? We are relatively new to the Malaysian market, only having arrived in 2002. We just recently celebrated our 10th anniversary of the Allianz brand in Malaysia and we are extremely grateful to have been very successful this past decade. We started small in the general insurance market and are now the leaders with 1.9 billion ringgit while our life insurance is placed 5th in the country with 1.5 billion ringgit and we have a collaborative customer base of over 2.8 million. Allianz is a strong brand but we haven’t reached the peak of being established in Malaysia and it may be because of our number of years here. However, we have today a very wide network with over 40 branches nationwide. We also have more than 6000 agents in general insurance and 7000 agents in life insurance as well as multiple partnerships with CIMB, HSBC, Pos Malaysia, car dealerships and brokers creating various gateways for our customers to connect with us. We are constantly striving towards an ideal position where we can leverage on innovation, experience and reputation. We are in a very strong position in my opinion.
QIn your opinion, how does the local market compare with markets you have previously worked in, Indonesia for example? The Malaysian market is unique and highly regulated market by Bank Negara Malaysia that is constantly driving customer consumer protection. Strong EPF also provides a good opportunity to save for retirement where Allianz Malaysia provides means to compliment these situations or circumstances. Takaful products that apply to the large Muslim population also make Malaysia a very unique and diverse market not only in the region but in the world. There is also quite a constant change and drive for liberalization. The regulators keep us busy in catching up with strengthening frameworks for consumers and professionalizing and capitalizing our industry to make sure that we have the best talent which includes bringing talent back into Malaysia. There is still low penetration for insurance in this market and we can see steady growth. There are many parts of Europe where I come from where markets are struggling with growth, unemployment and low interest rates. So for Allianz Malaysia, I am happy that we are seeing growth in Malaysia.
QHow is Allianz Malaysia looking to include the growing population of Gen Y-ers into its business model? We are a very young company and I have to say that 50% of our employees do belong to the Gen Y population. We have an average age of staff that is about 32 years old and also our agents and new customers tend to be relatively young. As a leading insurance group, we have to cater to everyone but the Gen Y is a particular challenge and opportunity
The Malaysian market is unique and highly regulated market by Bank Negara Malaysia that is constantly driving customer consumer protection.
for us. We have to cater different age groups and different communities with different forms of connection and communication. Allianz Malaysia has a strong social media following and another area is the job market. We see the opportunity of bringing more Gen Yers into the business. It’s understandable that this generation and the older must adapt with one another but there are vast opportunities in terms of employment and widening our customer base.
QAllianz is known to engage in CSR activities, why is this essential to the business and what can the public look forward to in the coming months? Allianz is an international and leading player in the insurance and financial services market so it is a corporate principle of ours to be a good corporate citizen. We find that business is more than just your top line and bottom line. CSR is a method of sustainability and it’s important in
We find that business is more than just your top line and bottom line. CSR is a method of sustainability and it’s important in today’s age of how we achieve our profit and successes.
today’s age of how we achieve our profit and successes. As a public listed company, I am proud that we are not only a good performing company in regards to financial performance but we are also a good credible company in terms of sustainability. We strive on good corporate governance and transparency to be a good corporate citizen. In 2011, we set up a department dedicated to CSR and sustainability where I have a team that reports directly to me. We have a very comprehensive Sustainability Report which is featured in our annual report and this also follows closely the programs and campaigns that we run throughout the year and their effectiveness at giving back to communities and the environment in general. Under the CSR umbrella, we are trying to combine our business strengths to see how we