Mu­nich Re’s Mar­cus Han­rieder on Suc­ces­fully Find­ing His Feet in Malaysia

MU­NICH RE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME, 135 YEARS TO BE EX­ACT, LEAV­ING MAR­CUS WITH SOME PRETTY BIG SHOES TO FILL IN MALAYSIA. HE SITS DOWN WITH KASHINI KR­ISH­NA­MURTHY ON HIS MOVE TO ASIA AND HOW HE HAS SUC­CESS­FULLY ADAPTED TO THE LO­CAL CUL­TURE.

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Q Tell us a lit­tle about your ca­reer thus far and why you chose the in­sur­ance in­dus­try.

I’ve started work­ing in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try in 1990 do­ing a 2 year trainee pro­gramme at Mu­nich Re. Much to the lik­ing of my dad who wanted me to get a solid foun­da­tion af­ter I had left school and be­fore I explore other ca­reer op­tions . I choose Mu­nich Re de­spite other job of­fers, from Banks for ex­am­ple, as I found the in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure fas­ci­nat­ing. But what made me fi­nally ac­cept Mu­nich Re’s job of­fer was the per­sonal touch of the peo­ple. I re­mem­ber I had a job in­ter­view with the head of HR. Dur­ing the 1.5 hours in­ter­view we didn’t speak much about in­sur­ance and rein­sur­ance. He was more in­ter­ested in me as a person and my in­ter­ests and ca­reer plans. At the end of the in­ter­view, much to my sur­prise, he of­fered me seat on the trainee pro­gram which was lim­ited to a to­tal of 20 peo­ple only. To this day I re­mem­ber the pos­i­tive feel­ing that gave me. This is part of the fas­ci­na­tion of Mu­nich Re. De­spite be­ing a global com­pany with a work force of more than 45,000 em­ploy­ees, it is still in­vest­ing a great deal in its peo­ple.

The world is chang­ing rapidly and new risks and chal­lenges arise. We see it as our ob­jec­tive to pro­vide an­swers and tai­lored so­lu­tions to

these chal­lenges.

Q What are your key lead­er­ship prin­ci­ples? Have they worked for you in South East Asia?

When I moved to Asia in 2009, I had lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence with the cul­ture. Both from a busi­ness as well as peo­ple man­age­ment per­spec­tive as I was mainly deal­ing with Euro­pean mar­kets and my last role in head of­fice was Head of Ca­su­alty busi­ness for Mid­dle East and North Africa. De­spite a cross cul­tural train­ing and a book I had read about lead­er­ship in an Asian con­text I be­lieve that lead­ing by ex­am­ple still works best for me. My own be­hav­iour in terms of val­ues and be­liefs, as well as re­spect set the ex­am­ple. I do what I want oth­ers to do. Se­condly, and this is a bit more tricky is em­pa­thy. As men­tioned be­fore, I’ve mainly worked in a Euro­pean en­vi­ron­ment be­fore and there­fore it took me a while to read and cor­rectly in­ter­pret peo­ples ex­pres­sions. I re­al­ized that my team ex­pected me to pro­vide more guid­ance and di­rec­tion then I was used to back in Ger­many. Another im­por­tant prin­ci­ple for me is to de­velop my team mem­bers. I make sure they can grow and up­grade their com­pe­ten­cies, skills, and knowl­edge. My ul­ti­mate goal is that one day they sur­pass me in their ca­reers and stay with Mu­nich Re ei­ther lo­cally, re­gion­ally or at one of our many of­fices around the globe.

Q How does Mu­nich Re stand apart from its com­peti­tors in the Malaysian mar­ket?

Mu­nich Re has been around for al­most 135 years and the ex­pe­ri­ence and knowhow we have col­lected in man­ag­ing risks in all parts of the world is, be­sides its great peo­ple and our sound fi­nan­cial back­ground, the big­gest as­set of Mu­nich Re. In par­tic­u­lar in this part of the world, where in­sur­ance mar­kets are de­vel­op­ing at an ex­tremely fast pace, shar­ing knowhow and ex­pe­ri­ence with our clients is one of our main value propo­si­tions. Se­condly, we are still push­ing the bound­aries of in­sur­ance fur­ther. The world is chang­ing rapidly and new risks and chal­lenges arise. We see it as our ob­jec­tive to pro­vide an­swers and tai­lored so­lu­tions to these chal­lenges.

Q Let’s talk about con­sumer ed­u­ca­tion in Malaysia. Your thoughts?

Since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis the rep­u­ta­tion of all fi­nan­cial ser­vices has suf­fered. Im­prov­ing this rep­u­ta­tion and low­er­ing the in­sur­ance gap, es­pe­cially in the emerg­ing mar­kets of Asia are one of the main chal­lenges for the fu­ture. This in­cludes to ex­plain in­sur­ance, cre­ate trust, and show how it can en­hance the stan­dard of liv­ing. For this we need to de­velop and mar­ket tailor made so­lu­tions for each cus­tomer seg­ment and find the right sales chan­nels. Go­ing for­ward, con­sumers will change their buy­ing be­hav­iour and will search and buy more via the in­ter­net like we have seen in other in­dus­tries. The in­sur­ance in­dus­try will need to en­gage with its cus­tomers to un­der­stand their needs, gain trust and to pro­vide prod­ucts which fit the re­quire­ments of the cus­tomers. By the way, Mu­nich Re went through the fi­nan­cial cri­sis ex­tremely strong, prov­ing the sta­ble ba­sis of our in­te­grated risk man­age­ment.

Q What is Mu­nich In­sur­ance do­ing to bridge the gap be­tween in­surer and po­ten­tial con­sumers?

We con­stantly re­search emerg­ing and chang­ing risks, and de­velop new in­no­va­tive in­sur­ance so­lu­tions for ex­am­ple for re­new­able en­er­gies such as so­lar parks or wind farms. We de­velop al­ter­na­tive cov­er­age con­cepts, like in­sur­ing fi­nan­cial losses re­sult­ing from vol­cano erup­tions/ash clouds or rep­u­ta­tional risks, weather risk pro­tec­tion, com­mer­cial mo­tor so­lu­tions and more. Be­yond this we en­gage with other stake­hold­ers, like gov­ern­ments, to explore ar­eas of col­lab­o­ra­tion. They are be­com­ing more and more aware of the risks that a nat­u­ral catas­tro­phe event could dam­age their sov­er­eign rat­ing if they are not able to fund it post catas­tro­phe. The dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion trend con­tin­ues and we will see a need to de­velop prod­ucts for both busi­nesses as well as pri­vate con­sumers to pro­tect them ad­e­quately against threats the in­creas­ing use of the in­ter­net in our daily life. Mu­nich Re is at the fore­front in as­sist­ing our clients in de­vel­op­ing such cy­ber risk pro­tec­tion prod­ucts.

Q Pen­e­tra­tion rate for con­sumers is still far off from the goal set by the govern­ment. Who shares the blame?

The whole in­dus­try needs to utilise the op­por­tu­ni­ties of cur­rently un­tapped client seg­ments. For ex­am­ple: ev­ery year we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant floods here in Malaysia and in the re­gion and still the eco­nomic losses are far greater than the dam­ages to in­sur­ers – an is­sue all over the re­gion. 34% of all weather re­lated nat­u­ral catas­tro­phes oc­curred in APAC in 2013, 44% of all eco­nomic losses hap­pened in this re­gion, but only 9% of all in­sured losses come from here. On top of this 84% of all fa­tal­i­ties hap­pened here, last year mostly due to ty­phoon Haiyan in the Philip­pines. These sober­ing sta­tis­tics high­light the ur­gent need for more nat­u­ral catas­tro­phe cov­er­age in Asia Pa­cific. On the pri­mary side we need to de­velop prod­ucts which are easy to ad­min­is­ter, re­al­is­tic in price and with a quick and re­li­able pay­ment sys­tem af­ter losses. It is the pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence that makes peo­ple come back and buy more. Rein­sur­ers can help with their knowhow and ex­per­tise.

Q What is Mu­nich Re’s out­look on the global econ­omy, emerg­ing mar­kets and Malaysia?

Malaysia’s GDP is ex­pected to ex­pand more than 4% through con­tin­u­ing in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing by the govern­ment but also in­creas­ing lo­cal con­sumer spend­ing. There­fore, the Malaysian in­sur­ance in­dus­try should con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence growth in the years to come in par­tic­u­lar in the pri­vate lines seg­ments.

Q What is Mu­nich Re’s strat­egy for grab­bing the at­ten­tion of the Gen Y pop­u­la­tion?

With the in­ter­net, the tra­di­tional dis­tri­bu­tion of in­sur­ance has al­ready started to change. In this part of the world, the tra­di­tional way via agents is still pre­dom­i­nant. The in­dus­try how­ever, has to in­vest in al­ter­na­tive dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels and prod­ucts to re­act on the chang­ing buy­ing be­hav­iours of the Gen Y pop­u­la­tion. But I would not limit this to the seg­ment of the dig­i­tal na­tives. Also the so called dig­i­tal mi­grants i.e. peo­ple born be­fore the ex­is­tence of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy will partly change their buy­ing be­hav­iour and have to be con­sid­ered too. I have ex­pe­ri­enced the peo­ple in this part of the world to be very tech savvy and I am pos­i­tive that we will see many changes in is field in the not too dis­tant fu­ture. New de­vel­op­ments in ‘pay as you drive’ poli­cies in mo­tor in­sur­ance us­ing telem­at­ics tech­nolo­gies will be in­tro­duced as soon as the mo­tor mar­ket has been fully lib­er­al­ized.

Q What are your plans for the year? Any news/high­lights/produ cts to share?

To stay rel­e­vant for my clients. Our aim has been and will be to pro­vide our clients with a good prod­uct at a good price and to value and main­tain re­la­tion­ships which are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant here in Asia. The up­com­ing mar­ket lib­er­al­i­sa­tion in Malaysia in 2016 will change the mar­ket and its ex­ist­ing busi­ness model to quite some ex­tend. With our global ex­pe­ri­ence and lo­cal mar­ket knowl­edge we want to be the pre­ferred part­ner for our clients when it comes to fi­nan­cial rein­sur­ance so­lu­tions but also in terms of man­ag­ing the other chal­lenges which lie ahead of us.

Q How is it look­ing for the in­dus­try in gen­eral? Any in­sight into the next 10 years?

Fire and mo­tor tar­iffs are ex­pected to be lib­er­al­ized as from 2016. This will in­crease the pres­sure for the in­dus­try to be­come more ef­fi­cient and in­no­va­tive. Last but not least, the ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity (AEC) and a fur­ther en­hance­ment of the in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tion can be ex­pected in the next few years. Sol­vency II will be fi­nally im­ple­mented in Europe in 2016 and I ex­pect reg­u­la­tors in this re­gion to fol­low this ex­am­ple. In­ter­est­ing times lie ahead of all of us and I’m sure there will be plenty of chances and not many dull moments to come.

Our aim has been and will be to pro­vide our

clients with a good prod­uct at a good price and to value and main­tain re­la­tion­ships which are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant

here in Asia.

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