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Interview of the week

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Silvia SIRB, CEO, AEGON Asigurari de Viata


As a life insurance "consumer", I think it's too much to say that there is a specific of the Romanian profile market. The attitude of most people regarding financial products in general and, by default, regarding life insurance, has changed since 2009, and I think it is still changing today on all markets.

XPRIMM: At this time, the results of 2009 are mostly known. In your assessment, which are the most important effects generated by the crisis upon the Romanian insurance market? Can we talk, in this respect, about specific Romanian characteristics of the profile market?
Silvia SIRB:
As a life insurance "consumer", I think it's too much to say that there is a specific of the Romanian profile market. The attitude of most people regarding financial products in general and, by default, regarding life insurance, has changed since 2009, and I think it is still changing today on all markets.
Focusing on effects, I can say that 2009 has woken the insurance market up to reality. I refer, equally, to both consumers and insurers, and I think this is a very good thing.
For too long there have been too easily overlooked, maybe often even neglected, the real needs of clients.
It is now obvious to us, as professionals, that prioritary and correctly is to work in order to help people. We need to make them understand and be open towards us, so we can find out their real needs for safety and for a better financial situation. How do we do this? By clarifying, planning and, then, by choosing the right products for each person.
These I believe are the most important elements of the insurance system, and today they are strongly justified, requireing their place at "maximum level" in the business decisions of all market players.
For AEGON, whose business approach is client centered, all our activity starting and ending with the Client, the contextual matching is perfect.
I remind you that I am simply being positive and, frankly, I believe that IT IS POSSIBLE!

XPRIMM: What were the most important challenges your company had to face in 2009 and how did you overcome them?
S. S.:
Both as order and as importance, the biggest two challenges of AEGON are, even today:
- finding solutions to gain the trust of those we want as customers;
- solutions to further reduce the emotional distance between us and the customer.
If we speak of this "distance", in its spatial form, AEGON has sought and found through bancassurance partnerships a way to be NEAR our client, in the most comfortable environment from his point of view. If we speak of a communication distance, AEGON has rebuilt the entire architecture of products, to meet, in any context, the following parameters: simplicity, transparency and intelligibility.

XPRIMM: What are your expectations regarding the market evolution in 2010? Will this year bring opportunities to support the recovery of the insurance market? At the opposite pole, which could be the main threats for the market evolution?
S. S.:
We expect the life insurance market to decrease somewhere around -5%.
For us though, 2010 will be the year when sales and communication strategy that AEGON Romania has built will say a word. Which will be reflected in the results three times higher than in 2009. So far, we did not speak and we acted. In 2010 we will continue to act, but I trust that the market will feel the "waves" made by AEGON.
In any case, I do not see opportunities brought easily by the market.
Threats? The biggest one: if the legislative and the insurers are not congruent and constructive in everything they do, the negative effects will be amplified, because the market is sensitive, like a period of convalescence.

XPRIMM: What are your company's objectives for 2010?
S. S.:
Regarding the sales, which I believe the market is more interested in, three times more than in 2009. There are others that target quality and efficiency, and I always talk about those.

XPRIMM: If you were in the position to develop a marketing strategy, which do you think would be number one priority for the Romanian insurance market at this time?
S. S.:
From the position of those who have power to make it happen: encreased deductibility and effective education system.
From our position, as insurer, we think the strategy we have now is the best one. Naturally, because otherwise we would change something.

XPRIMM: What products from your company's portfolio enjoy the biggest success in front of customers? What are the elements that "make a difference" in the case of these products?
S. S.:
Indeed, customers look at the market this way: in terms of Products and of "what makes the difference". The product AEGON star will appear this year. But we are sure that making the product itself is not enough. The complete formula we have in mind is: product, way of sale-distribution, services and benefits. They will give the final measure. Otherwise, it's like you would dress only 50% or 25%.
We will actually have three modular products, that will complete each other.
AEGON has shown in 2009 the ability to create customized products for each significant distributor, each one being able to sell in its target market. This brought us happy quality clients and satisfied distribution partners.
Now we take the next step, underlining the services, benefits and convenience of choosing AEGON.

XPRIMM: Thank you!

| Published on 17.06.2010






















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