When compared with many other industries, the insurance and financial services sector is relatively unhindered by the present challenges. Thus, in terms of general insurance, we still anticipate growth this year as asset values, assessed in rupees, rise, in response to inflation, said Allianz Insurance Lanka Limited, Chief Executive Officer at Gany Subramaniam.
As long as the industry can work together responsibly to levy fair rates, in terms of premiums, the sector will likely enjoy sustainable growth. We expect life and health insurance too to enjoy growth as a result of increased awareness about the benefits of these products, particularly in an environment where healthcare costs are rising. Thus, we look forward with optimism to continuing to help our customers at all stages of life to protect what is most precious to them and give them the courage to move forward.
Today the ‘Daily News Business TEA WITH CEO’ features Group Chief Executive Officer at Allianz Insurance Lanka Limited, Gany Subramaniam, as he discussed the Company’s journey, Sri Lanka’s insurance industry in general and what the future holds for the sector.
Q: What factors have contributed to the overall performance of your organization?
The fact that we are part of the Allianz Group, one of the largest insurance and financial service providers in the world, sets us apart from other insurance companies in Sri Lanka, particularly in terms of the synergies we enjoy thanks to our global network. Furthermore, we place sustainability at the forefront of our business operations and have defined certain KPIs with regard to the financial fundamentals of our business. As a sustainable business this means considering a variety of social and environmental factors, and not focusing solely on profit.
Thus, sustainable profitability is a key focus for us and we have delivered on that during the past few years, even if our focus on sustainability has resulted in us having to marginally sacrifice some market share in the near term. However, we are confident that, as society becomes increasingly aware of how important sustainability is, this lost market share will be swiftly regained.
Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, globally, Allianz SE is among the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2021, over 155,000 employees achieved total revenues of 149 billion euros and an operating profit of 13.4 billion euros for the group as a whole.
For us at Allianz Lanka, the recent past has been filled with challenges, from the pandemic onward to the present crises. However, through prudent risk management, backed by our wealth of technical expertise, we are successfully navigating these obstacles and look forward to continue in helping people protect what is most precious to them in the years and decades to come.
Q: How is the insurance industry coping with digital transformation?
Sri Lanka is still a highly intermediated market; hence the majority of our sales occur through our sales people, whether that is through agents or permanent staff, or even through the staff of an insurance broker. This status quo is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, simply as a result of how our market is set up.
Therefore, our focus is very much on how we can provide digital enablement to our sales people. Thus, equipping them to function better and in a more connected way through digital technology, by providing, for example, more convenient customer on boarding facilities, remote access to resources, and other such facilities, is the present curve of digitalization within the insurance industry.
Concurrently, we are looking at digital enablement for our customers wherever possible too, such as through digital and electronic payments, policies delivered by email or SMS, and other initiatives. In fact, we took a leap ahead by introducing remote assessments for vehicle accidents and new policy applications, where possible. Thus, wherever possible, the customer journey is being digitized.
However, unlike in say banking, for example, in insurance, as far as Sri Lanka is concerned at least, a 100% end-to-end digital customer journey is still relatively distant on the horizon. But the industry is taking huge strides towards digitalization and digital enablement in terms of the backend,marketing, service delivery and customer support, through social media and messaging platforms, like Facebook and WhatsApp, along with proprietary applications and solutions.