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Interview of the week

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Antonio SOUVANNASOUCK, Managing Partner, ASIGEST


For 2011, we have set the objective of a minimum 10% increase in income. On the retail segment, we plan to diversify our products and to re-launch the site www.asigur.com, and regarding the corporate segment, we will focus on developing niche areas and on consultancy services.

XPRIMM: What are the main challenges that the insurance brokerage market has to face in 2011? How did the perception of clients regarding the insurance consultant's role change in the last year?
Antonio SOUVANNASOUCK: Unfortunately, the deep economic crisis in Romania led to minimizing the role of the insurance consultant and turned him into a simple... cheap seller! Very few are still looking at the quality of services, all the insured are now seeking one thing: to pay as less as possible for insurance, regardless of the quality of the product or of related services, such as those of a consultant. Unfortunately, this does not mean less work for the consultant, because his work is the same, established both by the legal regulations, and by the market, because no customer, corporate or retail, requires the cheapest product from the beginning. So, after a deep comparative analysis of insurance products, the customer chooses, during this period, to buy minimal insurance and at the lowest price. Simultaneously, the poverty of the population leads to an explosive evolution of the number of brokers, many of those affected by the financial crisis having to supplement their incomes by also working in insurance, even if the average income per broker is declining dramatically.

XPRIMM: How do you assess your company’s results in 2010 and what are the main objectives for this year? But the main opportunities?
A.S.: Unfortunately, 2010 was for ASIGEST the year with the weakest results. It was a year of consolidation of the corporate portfolio but, unfortunately, the retail segment has suffered greatly. Motor Hull has suffered, on the whole market, a dramatic decrease of 25%, and MTPL insurance, although up by 11.6%, is extremely volatile.
For 2011, we have set the objective of a minimum 10% increase in income. On the retail segment, we plan to diversify our products and to re-launch the site www.asigur.com, and regarding the corporate segment, we will focus on developing niche areas and on consultancy services.

XPRIMM: What is the ratio between individual customers and corporate clients in our portfolio and how did the two segments, corporate and retail evolve in 2010?
A.S.: In terms of number of clients, individuals represent 60%, compared to 40% legal persons, a ratio that was maintained in 2010. Instead, if we take into account the generated premiums volume, balance is clearly inclining in favour of the corporate clients, as they represent around 74%, up by around 5% from 2009. The number of individual customers has decreased, but not too much, whereas the premiums volume is considerably reduced, because many clients have decided to buy only mandatory MTPL insurance, giving up Motor Hull due to lack of funds. Regarding the number of corporate clients, it has increased slightly but, in the context of declining insurance values and premium rates, the generated volume of premiums has been decreasing.

XPRIMM: How do the recruitment and retention of staff take place in your company? Is an expansion of the sales force opportune, at this time? Do the current economic situation and the fiscal environment bring new opportunities for recruiting people to work in insurance?
A.S.: Recruitment is done through the usual channels: people we know and specialized web-sites. In terms of staff retention, as a general policy, we try to create a work environment as efficient and comfortable as possible, so everyone can have the best possible performance, the performance being rewarded. There is indeed, at this moment, an opportunity to expand the sales force, as reduced income of the population leads to some people orienting to part-time activities, which bring additional benefits.

XPRIMM: What is the best sold product at the moment and what products will you continue to “bet” on?
A.S.: It is quite obvious that the best selling product and with a growing market share is... MTPL insurance. Unfortunately, this proves how immature the market is, and also the state of economic crisis we are in. ASIGEST has never focused on this line of insurance, where the consultancy part is minimal, but has focused on voluntary insurance, where the complexity and diversity of products make the involvement of a broker necessary. I must admit that this strategy of ours, at least on short term and during the crisis, did not bring us results, instead, insurers and brokers that “have bet” on this insurance line are the winners of 2010. To balance the portfolio, we intend to get involved more actively in selling this product, not only to increase revenues, but also to increase our customer base, in order to also offer voluntary insurance products.
I believe and hope that this year the mandatory household insurance will also help the sale of voluntary insurance, especially in the light of the final changes to the law, whereby if you bought a voluntary insurance which includes the risks of the mandatory insurance, the latter is no longer required separately. Also, the Romanian insurance market has potential in developing new products therefore we will also focus on finding/adapting some niche products.

| Published on 07.04.2011






















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