Michael Diekmann, the group chief executive officer of Germany-based Allianz SE leans back on his seat with a look of assurance across his face when asked what he thinks its Malaysian arm, Allianz Malaysia Bhd, is capable of achieving next year.
“Well, the promise is that by 2015, Allianz Malaysia can hit one billion euros (RM4.17bil) in premium income.” He says, glancing at Allianz Malaysia CEO Zakri Mohd Khir, as if waiting for the latter’s nod of agreement.
“I wish Malaysia luck.” Diekmann quips, as Zakri jokingly makes a shape of a pistol with his hand and playfully simulates shooting himself in the head.
Jokes aside, however, Diekmann is confident that Allianz Malaysia can…and will deliver on this promise. “You need a target. It’s important because you need to be relevant to the group. The more you scale up, the more you get better,” he tells StarBisWeek during a visit to Malaysia.
Looking at Allianz Malaysia’s track record so far, Zakri believes the insurance company can achieve its target. “We have the platform and foundation, and we also have a good regulatory environment here. We will be doing things in a transparent manner. It’s is about coming up with more lifestyle products. We have a solid penetration rate. We have a good number of agents as well as brokers, and we’re dabbling in alternative distribution.”
Going by Allianz Malaysia’s earning for 2013 as a base, the insurance company is not far off from hitting its 2015 mark. For its financial year ended Dec 31, 2013, Allianz Malaysia’s net profit rose 15% to RM237.92 mil from RM207.61 mil in the previous corresponding period, while revenue increased to RM3.65bil from RM3.15bil a year earlier.
The higher earnings were due to higher gross earned premiums and investment income.
Allianz’s general insurance operations gained 10.8% to RM1.84bil as a result of an increase in gross earned premiums, due mainly to improved sales from agency and franchise channels. The higher investment income derived from bigger investment base.
Its life insurance operations, meanwhile, gained 21.7% to RM1.8bil due to an increase in gross earned premiums of its insurance operations, which was attributable to premium growth across all distribution channels, higher renewal premium from agency sales and single premium product sales.
According to Diekmann, Allianz Malaysia’s property and casualty and life insurance businesses serve around 2.8 million clients in the country.
In Malaysia, our client service is the best in its class,” he says, adding that he is satisfied with the company’s performance so far in the country. “We’ve constantly managed to outgrow the market. If we can continue this trend, I will be very content,” he says.
Looking ahead, Diekmann says Allianz Malaysia will need to continue being innovative to stay ahead of the competition.
“You need to develop a solid information technology backbone and also to constantly keep training your staff.
Recently, Allianz launched its Allianz Auto Assist App, a mobile device application to expedite roadside-related issues such as accidents or breakdowns.
“The challenge is also how to convince people to spend today for a better future. We need to explain to potential clients why it (purchasing insurance) makes sense and then we would need to deliver on our promise,” says Diekmann.
Apart from educating the public, building a solid trust position in the market is also vital, adds Diekmann. “Everyone talks about trust. It’s not easy to build up – but it’s very easy to lose. People today have long memories. You only need to fail once and it takes 20 years to rebuild that trust.”