Exclusive interview on AGB’s 5th anniversary
In the Global Benefits Vision magazine of December, Dirk Hellmuth, CEO and Cyril Samson, Managing Director, take stock, review the achievements and successes and speak about where they want to be in five years’ time.
by Global Benefits Vision | 6 min read
Please note: This text is an extract of the interview published on the Global Benefits Vision platform (global-benefits-vision.com).
GBV: Are there any major achievements since the launch five years ago that you would like to highlight?
DH: What I consider a major achievement is that we managed to position ourselves as a global line within Allianz Group, and more importantly, that we are also perceived so by the market.
A second accomplishment in the last five years is the steady increase of technical features of both our risk management and pension solutions.
GBV: What are Allianz Global Benefits’ current key numbers and relevant KPIs?
DH: To give you some figures we have over 300 MNC clients, as leading employee benefits captive network we have 27 global captive clients, 89 pooling clients and 3 global underwriting clients. We are market leader and first mover in global pensions – with two major cross-border de-risking cases in this area – and we are market leader in the implementation of local employee benefits plans for MNCs.
GBV: What’s your overall vision for Allianz Global Benefits in Global Benefits, and what is your strategy in employee benefits/global employee benefits?
DH: We aim to become the best corporate risk and pension solutions provider worldwide. I believe that Allianz Group has all the different components in place to offer innovative employee benefits solutions now, and also in the future. It is our job, as Allianz Global Benefits, to team up for excellence and to organize the implementation of the solutions. This involves listening to multinational corporations and their employees, learning about their challenges, understanding what they are looking for, working on quality solutions together and, last but not least, executing on the promise we make.
CS: In the end, employee benefits are made for employees and our mission statement to our multinational corporate customers is that we secure the future of their employees around the globe. It is crucial to keep our promise to the employer! Employees should know that working with Allianz means that the promises made to them are delivered. Therefore we strive to pay maximum attention to service quality, making sure that all the elements of the agreement work properly.
GBV: What do you regard as the main trends and challenges in the global employee benefits industry?
CS: Compared to the first days of pooling, the business has become much more sophisticated. Also, the current trend is clearly towards more risk management. Today, clients consider employee benefits to be part of their global strategy or global governance. They expect to be able to choose from the different employee benefits solutions that are available, settling for those that fit into their own strategy and decision capacity in a flexible and simple way. It is crucial for networks to be able to offer all the solutions in order to prevail in the future. I think what is important to understand is that the business is partly organized by the providers, but also by the brokers, the consultants, the clients themselves and their employees. And, as said before, there is a very clear pressure from employees for simplicity and better understanding.
DH: I fully agree with what Cyril said. Ageing workforces, cost pressure, globalization and digitalization – all this leads to the fact that clients are looking for solutions that are easy-to-understand, as well as simple products and processes. Furthermore, they expect to get guidance from our side on what they have to do in the area of employee benefits. Advanced technology in data analytics and sophisticated reporting tools are key to be successful in the future. Clients need to experience that we, together with them, are able to reduce complexity on both local and global level. This is one of the real values of working with an international network such as Allianz Global Benefits.
GBV: What is your goal for the next twelve months: Where do you expect Allianz Global Benefits to be end of December 2020?
DH: We will be launching a new corporate client portal still this year. It is an operations-driven initiative and concerns the enhancement of our reporting system by the building up of a new portal - a key client touch point with easy access. With focus on health, it will include very dynamic reporting functionalities and offer enhanced delivery of data analytics and insights to our customers.
In the next twelve to fifteen months, we aim to create more simplicity in our business segment. We know about the complexity of e-business related topics, nevertheless, we want to offer our clients more simple and intuitive products, with full transparency about what they have covered on a worldwide basis and in an understandable language. It is about not only meeting customers’ expectations, but exceeding them.
GBV: Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time regarding your customer model?
DH: Next to achieving simplicity, we aim to become a more customer centric organization; a global employee benefits network that offers a multiplicity of corporate life, pension and health products, processes and tools around what multinational corporations need. We aim to top our competitors, transform our organization to become digital and scalable, and last but not least, rebalance our portfolio toward the most attractive geographies and business segments. We are just at the beginning of our journey. So outperforming, transforming, and rebalancing – this is the overall Allianz Group strategy in order to provide best value for customers.
GBV: What will the future employee benefits universe look like and what will be the biggest challenges you think you will be facing at Allianz Global Benefits and in the industry in general?
CS: Serving customer needs is key to being successful, and when I speak about customers I mean the corporates and their intermediaries. This is the real driving force of our work - their desires, their needs. Furthermore, our products, services and processes should be simple and efficient for both employers and employees. This is the course we want to take.
DH: People’s work and life realities are changing: Globalization demands an increased mobility of people, people will have to work longer – and will live longer, millennials start their work life with totally different visions and desires. This has to be considered for the planning of employee benefits. Just offering financial rewards will not work, same as a one size fits all approach to employee benefits will not. It is about understanding the workforce desires, offering flexible overall packages that deliver real value to a diverse workforce, allowing employees to choose the benefits that best fit their needs and embracing new technologies to create a real added value for the employee and the employer. We see a rising importance of physical health and mental wellbeing, and our consumers get smarter and more independent in decision making.
A clear global employee benefits strategy, executed locally, is key for an employer to adapt to these trends. For Allianz Global Benefits this means to be able to manage risks and to be ready to jump on new opportunities. It means to build simplicity around products and processes and last but not least to be the trustworthy partner for innovative and enhanced employee benefits solutions on local and cross-border level, wherever needed.