This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is Andreas Berger, Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Solutions, the commercial insurance arm of the Swiss Re Group. Joining in 2019, Andreas had a major task to turn around Corporate Solutions, or CorSo, business unit. Two years later, the turnaround has been impressive.
In the episode, Andreas chats to Mark Geoghegan about the company’s journey over the last two years, the approach he took to turn things around, disciplined and profitable growth, and why getting the data and technology bit is fundamental today for success.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks Andreas about the remedial work at Corporate Solutions, responding to this, Andreas says: “It was just not about fixing what went wrong, it´s also about creating sustainable bases for the future in order to also create a foundation for profitable growth in the future and be a sustainable partner in the corporate insurance space.” Commenting further on this, Andreas discussed how the company’s mantra is about pursuing and positioning itself as the specialised risk partner for corporates.
Keeping on the topic of change, Andreas talks about how robust decision making and maintaining a disciplined approach were key elements: “It´s no miracle. You just have to be super disciplined in execution, what you think needs to be done and not getting distracted.” Andreas also discussed how management addressed governance and had a 360 degree view on how things need to be done.
Speaking about growth, Andreas comments: “When you talk growth, allow me to emphasise disciplined, profitable growth. Unfortunately, we have to use those additional words in the corporate insurance space because very often we´ve seen growth without that discipline that was not applied, and you saw the very negative results in the industry. So we think for once and for all we need to be disciplined.”
As the conversation moved on to the current state of the market, capital structure, and risk adequacy, Andreas chats about the importance of establishing a sustainable underwriting practice. “We still have high capacity, we still believe in our underwriting… we think that the underwriting that we do is sustainable underwriting and the risk adequacy is being looked at, and so we are quite happy with where we are right now.”
A supporter of innovation in the industry, Andreas speaks about technology and data fitting into the corporation and within the underwriting and decision-making process. “As we invested further into the risk engineering services team, we could strengthen the insights from the risk engineering that helped Underwriters looking into the risk differently. What we also do now is we bring much more data into the underwriting process, data from customers obviously, yes, but also third-party data in order to get a better understanding and a more detailed understanding of the risk and start to model it differently. We invest heavily into that data and technology space in order to strengthen the underwriting but also to give actionable insights back to customers.”
Speaking further about the significance of data, Andreas succinctly puts it: “Data is critical. Data is oil of the future.”
Mark asks if the move to innovative technology and data was a significant culture change. Andreas discussed how he did a listening tour by travelling to offices worldwide (pre-pandemic), and spending time with many teams to understand how they do their business. “It´s a journey; it's a change for underwriting, for claims, for sales. Increased use of data is actually the other change that our company is going through, like the whole industry is going through. Tech companies like to work with Swiss Re because we do have the right capabilities in-house. They know we like to work with data, we embrace data, and we embrace technology.”
Enjoy the podcast.
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