Allianz Insurance: gearing for growth
Despite the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19, this global insurance company is engineering steady growth and unlocking opportunities in the Sri Lankan market
It’s been a challenging 2020 with COVID19 shaking up the business landscape globally. The disruption was unavoidable, but smart organizations soon learned to navigate the challenges, realign strategy, and uncover opportunities in the chaos. Gany Subramaniam, Chief Executive Officer of Allianz Insurance, talks about how the company is realigning for growth in a postCOVID environment, outlook for 2021, and ongoing innovations and initiatives around gender equality and inclusivity at the workplace.
How is Allianz Insurance approaching the year ahead and what does it mean to you to reset for a post-COVID new normal?
Subramaniam: 2020 has been a challenging year for all industries and markets. However, we have weathered many storms throughout our 130-year history at Allianz. Despite the current global business climate, we have continued to grow stronger and become more relevant to people’s lives, emerging as the world’s Number 1 insurance brand in the recent Interbrand Best Global Brands rankings. As we continue to evolve and thrive in this new normal, we remain committed to serving more than 100 million retail and corporate customers in over 70 countries, helping secure people’s lives, and giving courage to our customers for what’s ahead.
The current fall in disposable income has put pressure on consumer and business expenditure in the short term. While this might persist through the first half of 2021, economic activity is likely to pick up in the second half of the year. The pandemic, however, has led to a greater emphasis on health and protection. This change in behavior augurs well for the insurance sector and we are fully geared to support our customers through this pandemic and beyond. All in all, we are cautiously optimistic about 2021.
How are you resetting strategies to grow the business in Sri Lanka?
Subramaniam: A low penetration level in insurance translates into a great opportunity for all insurers and adds to the appeal of the market. This holds true for Sri Lanka as well and we see immense potential for market growth. While this remains a key focus area, in line with your theme of the “Great Reset”, we too will be working on continuously realigning ourselves with evolving market conditions. Insurance has relied largely on face-to-face interactions, however, in this COVID era, certain segments are becoming more open to online engagements. As insurers, we need to have simple, easy to understand products to cater to their demand. Focusing on what really matters and keeping things simple, we are working on reducing the number and complexity of our products and processes and streamlining our organization. The Allianz Customer Model is the driver of this transformation. In Sri Lanka, we are focusing on realigning our operations and service delivery models to provide simplified, digital-led solutions to our customers. We are also rolling out hybrid work models for all our teams and are constantly optimizing them to ensure minimum disruption of services in the face of possible lockdowns and movement restrictions.
What changes are you making to the work environment to ensure that employee aspirations are fulfilled, and customers get the best service and care?
Subramaniam: Our team members are our principal driving force. We place great emphasis on empowering them with the right tools, environment, and support structures to help them realize their dreams and aspirations. Our continuous engagement and ongoing employee surveys provide us with constant feedback which allows us to identify any gaps and align our engagement and development efforts more closely with their needs. In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we have had to rapidly adapt to the new normal and transform the way they operate.
This included the introduction of flexible work arrangements and other programs to protect the health and safety of our teams and help them gain a better work-life balance. In Sri Lanka, we continue to ensure that our team members receive all assistance to help them through these challenging times. We have also stepped up our efforts around promoting the teams’ mental health and wellbeing in recent times. Our dedicated helplines support team members with getting over their fears and anxieties. Despite the pandemic, 1,103 team members from Sri Lanka took part in this year’s Allianz World Run and covered a distance of 121,564km to raise funds for critical projects of SOS Children’s Villages.
We remain committed to serving more than 100 million retail and corporate customers in over 70 countries
How is digital technology shaping the future of Allianz Insurance?
Subramaniam: Transforming our organization to become simple, digital, and scalable is one of our strategic objectives. Digital for us means new business models, harmonized assets, automation, and state-of-the-art data analytics. It means enabling our people and freeing up their time for innovation and customer service. Our digital strategy focuses on driving customer centricity, simplification, and true transformation. In Sri Lanka, we seek to deliver a truly digital, end to end insurance experience to our customers, unlike anything this market has seen before. This would significantly empower them, increase meaningful engagement, make purchasing a policy even simpler, and reduce waiting times.
How is Allianz Insurance taking on gender equality and inclusivity, in the workplace?
Subramaniam: At Allianz, we believe in a diverse and inclusive workforce. Employing people from different backgrounds and making them feel they belong is a major driving force behind our success. Hence, we focus on ensuring that we identify the “most suitable candidate” for every role, irrespective of their gender, age, ethnicity, etc. We have set ourselves global targets around gender balance and seek to have 25% of our Management Boards and 40% of our overall talent pool comprise of women, globally, by the end of 2021. Our Global Inclusion Council ensures the implementation of a diversity strategy in all Allianz entities. It is chaired by a member of the Allianz SE board of directors and has been in place since 2007. Our voluntary, employee-led Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) also work towards fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.