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Interview of the week

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Florina VIZINTEANU, President of the Board, BCR Asigurari de Viata VIG


The company that I represent today and that I have built starting December 2005 was planned to be a bancassurance company. Due to the experience we had, I and my team, in direct sales forces, we have also developed in parallel a direct sales force, which helped us a lot, functioning as an incubator of ideas.

XPRIMM: BCR Asigurari de Viata VIG has managed, in a year of crisis, to achieve a double-digit growth. Is bancassurance distribution part of the recipe for success?
Florina VIZINTEANU: The company that I represent today and that I have built starting December 2005 was planned to be a bancassurance company. Due to the experience we had, I and my team, in direct sales forces, we have also developed in parallel a direct sales force, which helped us a lot, functioning as an incubator of ideas.
The evolutions you have seen in 2009, when we increased by 60% and we rised to the second place in the market, at only three years after launching, and in 2010, with an increase of 21-22%, came organically. When you build a life insurance company on a direct sales force structure, the investment is very high. The more you invest, the quicklier the results come (as number of concluded policies), but return on investment and going in the black come after a few good years. In a bancassurance company, the investment is made in training and IT. The start may be a little more difficult but, once it has started, it is a mechanism hard to stop, because we are talking about a sales force that exists from the beginning. You just have to select the people to start with and keep on improving the team; to create a state of motivation and desire to work, and then to train them and bring them to the point where they would naturally sell the insurance product, too. From my point of view, there is no surprise, what happened is normal, considering we are set as a bancassurance company.

XPRIMM: In bancassurance, it is about a very performant back-office in terms of technology, but it is also very much about people, about building a certain type of relationship that would motivate the bank employees. How big is the effort towards human resources?
F.V.: It is an essential and... substantial effort. In this partnership, the insurer comes from outside and gets involved in all that represents the daily activity of bank employees. They must sell a product that is not the bank's, they have to interact with consultants, trainers, advisor who come from outside, and then the interpersonal relationship is very important. And the life insurance company must make every necessary effort to build this relationship.
It is also very important that this relationship is a quality one, from the top management to the smallest seller. If the relationship is good at the top, but the base is not properly built, the response of the sales force will not be the wanted one. If the relationship is good in its basic structure, but at the top there is not the necessary involvement, again it does not work. The insurer must have a good relationship with the bank, on the retail line, from the highest responsible for retail, to that seller from the smallest agency, in the smallest town in the country. Otherwise, the system does not work.

XPRIMM: Are the bancassurance products designed taking into account the particularities of ERSTE Bank clients, your bancassurance partner?
F.V.: The ERSTE Bank thinking at group level represents an advantage for us. BCR, part of ERSTE Bank, basically followed the same strategy regarding the client, an extremely well-defined strategy.
Firstly, we started from the segmentation of bank customers. BCR's clients are currently divided in three essential segments: first, mass-market, the large mass of customers, people who have come to be bank customers because they had access to credit, or have a basic salary card. To them, we offer traditional products, linked to credit.
Then comes the mass affluent customer, a customer who is also using other banking products. Here we come with dedicated products, unit-linked type, with current premius policies, products for children and, of course, credit type products. Finally, we have our private-banking clients, who are highly sophisticated customers. The main product we offer to them is the index-linked product, an investment product, with single premium.
So, from a point of view, the life insurance company that is in such a partnership with a bank already has access to a customer brought in a community, that of customers used to interact frequently with the bank.
For the future, however, it is very important for us to be innovative, to prepare for future generations of customers. Do not forget that in a few years, the group of clients in their most productive period of maturity will be made up of today's teenagers and children. These customers will be highly educated, at least compared with current mature generations. We are forced to burn stages, to evolve rapidly, we do not have time to go step by step through the periods of accumulation that other countries have passed through. Without creativity, in the social environment in which we develop today, we can not operate. Young generations of today are evolving more quickly, and we must constantly adapt.

XPRIMM: So, if we repeat this discussion 5 years from now...
F.V.: Probably a large part of the novelties which now seem spectacular will have the "perfume" of grandma's stories... That is why we must be very open to new and also very open to the idea of community.


Editor: Daniela GHETU | Published on 23.06.2011






















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