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Interview of the week


Victor SRAER, Managing Partner, OTTO Broker

I think the biggest challenge right now is that all actors in the insurance market shift focus from price to quality. Whatever the field, strategies focused on price did not have long term succes.

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?
Victor SRAER: I think the biggest challenge right now is that all actors in the insurance market shift focus from price to quality. Whatever the field, strategies focused on price did not have long term succes.
Another challenge is to make as many customers as possible aware of the fact that insurance is a form of financial protection, and not some pieces of paper that need to be as cheap as possible. It is important that people realize they need quality insurance. Currently, many customers perceive added value only in the sense of obtaining a lower price and they disregard the arguments about the coverage that a policy offers.
In this context, insurance consultants become much more important. The insurance broker can prove his value only if he understands very well the needs of the client and finds the right solutions for him. In this period of time, we must be creative and fiind insurance solutions under the circumstances in which the population’s incomes are decreasing. Even when resources are limited, the broker must and can come up with effective solutions, in accordance with the clients incomes and that cover the most important risks.

XPRIMM: How do you assess the results obtained by your company in 2010 and what are the main objectives for this year? But the main opportunities?
V.S.: Last year, we managed to grow by 61% compared to 2009. In addition, we have strengthened our team, we successfully developed a coherent program of portfolio diversity and we have continued to expand by opening new sales offices. We are proud that we managed to do all this under the circumstances in which 2010 was a very difficult year.
As for the 2011 objectives, I can say that on the retail segment we intend to further expand the OTTO Broker network and to identify new channels of distribution. On the corporate segment, our objectives imply an organic growth of this division. We have several projects running, but we will give more details as we implement them.
In terms of opportunities, for individuals, I am thinking, in the first place, about household insurance. The online development of the company is also very important in 2011.
For legal persons, firstly, there is the classical opportunity from the broker profession, that is optimizing the insurance programs of the clients that do not yet use the services of a broker. Another opportunity reffers to offering insurance solutions against financial risks, whether we are talking about not cashing trade credits, or about restricted access to financing and guarantee instruments. I believe the activities related to infrastructure represent other potential opportunities.

XPRIMM: What is the ratio between individual customers and corporate clients in your portfolio and how did the two segments, corporate and retail, evolve in 2010?
V.S.: In our case, the retail segment represents 85% of the portfolio, and the coporate division has 15%.
In 2010, we had a greater increase on the retail and a moderate one on the corporate segment.

XPRIMM: How do the recruitment and retention of staff take place in the company? It is opportune, at this time, an expansion of the sales force? Do the current economic situation and the fiscal environment bring new opportunities for recruiting people to work in insurance?
V.S.: In recruitment, we have some clear directions and the process is controlled by the HR department. On one hand, we attract people who are just starting their careers and we are preparing them as well as possible through various training programs. On the other hand, we are careful and open to the valuable people in the industry who want to work in an organization where their work and value are appreciated. Last but not least, very good people, who have experience in other areas, but are new to insurance, can have a beautiful career at OTTO Broker. In the beginning of 2011, we have welcomed in our team three such people, who have changed their professional path to the insurance field.
After they are hired, they are attending training programs. In addition, we have a very good compensations system and we have organized competitions dedicated to emplyees. Moreover, at OTTO Broker, each department has a specific career plan and each position has very specific performance criteria. So, our team members know very clearly what to do to advance.
About expansion of the sales force, I can tell you that, from our point of view, it is always opportune.
And, to get to the last point, I believe that the fiscal environment in Romania does not stimulate the employment of staff in a really applicable way. Theoretically, there are financing schemes, but they are not at all practical. The current economic situation may create opportunities in the labor market, meaning that we are now able to attract to insurance talented people from other areas. As I said earlier, we're always open to this kind of candidates.

XPRIMM: What is the best sold product at the moment and what products will you continue to „bet” on?
V.S.: The only product that sells by itself is mandatory insurance. I refer here to MTPL and mandatory household insurance.  
For voluntary insurance, we “bet” on the household segment, but also on accidents insurance. For example, we will soon launch a new, very simple and accesible product that offers a quick compensation.

| Published on 24.03.2011

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