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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