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Interview of the week

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Cristian BALANICA, General Manager, PIRAEUS Insurance Broker


I believe the main challenge this industry has to face this year is directly linked to each manager's ability to manage the third year of crisis. Perhaps this will sound strange, but the crisis has its clearly defined role – having a cyclic character, it makes innovation, determination and adapting to other unconventional strategies be the arguments for insurance companies managers and for financial mediations brokers, in order to find the optimal solution to relaunch their activities.

XPRIMM: What are the main challenges that the insurance brokerage market has to face in 2011? How has the perception of clients regarding the insurance consultant’s role changed over last year?
Cristian BALANICA: I believe the main challenge this industry has to face this year is directly linked to each manager's ability to manage the third year of crisis. Perhaps this will sound strange, but the crisis has its clearly defined role – having a cyclic character, it makes innovation, determination and adapting to other unconventional strategies be the arguments for insurance companies managers and for financial mediations brokers, in order to find the optimal solution to relaunch their activities. This economic situation has ''worked'' more in favor of insurance brokers - I say this because, in the past two years, on this market, a greater need for consultancy than in previous years could be noticed, customers have adjusted their insurance budgets in accordance with the requirements of the economic environment and then, they needed that support only a broker can provide.
 
XPRIMM: How do you evaluate your company’s results in 2010 and what are the main objectives for this year? But the main opportunities?
C.B.: It was a good year. Hard, but in the end the results showed that it was also a surprisingly good year in terms of figures. Opportunities have been and will always be there, the idea is that more effort should be made to educate and inform the public about the benefits of owning an insurance policy. I see that there is a concentration of forces, especially ISC, the regulatory authority, coordinating several recent projects in this regard. I know there will be more steps in educating citizens about the benefits of insurance, but it is important that the process has started.
 
XPRIMM: What is the ratio between individual customers and corporate clients, in the portfolio, and how did the two segments, corporate and retail, evolve in 2010?
C.B.: 79% corporate clients and 21% individuals. At first glance, this may seem a little unbalanced, but this is mainly due to the leasing segment, which has a significant share in the portfolio of PIRAEUS Insurance. If the leasing market is already known to be on a descending trend for a while now, as a natural effect of the car fleet’s renewal process “reaching maturity” over the last 4 years, I consider that retail has a good chance, in the next period of time, to show its growth possibilities. In fact, if we look around us, we see that this strategy, to focus towards the individuals segment, is one seen both in insurance and in brokerage companies.

XPRIMM: How do the recruitment and retention of staff take place within the company? Is it opportune, at this time, to expand the sales force? Do the current economic situation and the fiscal environment bring new opportunities to recruit people to work in insurance?
C.B.: In general, in less favorable times, from an economic point of view, you don’t really change the members of the team. You try to consolidate it, to motivate it, to promote inside people up to the positions that you want to develop. If we are reffering to sales, this is the field where exception is possible and where you always have one salesman less than you would want. It is true that, at this moment, there are more opportunities for recruiting specialists in the field and PIRAEUS Insurance Broker is closely paying attention to this issue.

XPRIMM: What is the best sold product at the moment and what products will you continue to “bet” on?
C.B.: From my point of view, there is not only one product that sells better or worse. However, we have set as target for 2011 to promote household insurance, through campaigns that we will run during the entire year. Regardless of whether mandatory or voluntary, this type of policy is a necessity. Every day, we are informed about many events taking place locally or some place in the world, from natural disasters to simple fires, but all with an absolutely terrible ending: loss of the place where you spend your most valued time, the house.

| Published on 10.03.2011






















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