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Interview with Michael Diekmann on new appointments

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Interview with Michael Diekmann on new appointments 3

An interview with Michael Diekmann, CEO of Allianz SE, on the appointments announced today.

Mr. Diekmann, can you describe in a few words the significance of today’s personnel appointments for Allianz?
Michael Diekmann: Today’s appointments further strengthen our team, which in terms of our core business fields of insurance and investment has become even more experienced, younger and more diverse.Interview with Michael Diekmann on new appointments 4

Allianz finally has a woman on the holding board. Is that an homage to the spirit of the times or is Mrs. Jung a “quota woman”?
Michael Diekmann (laughs): Why don’t you ask Mrs. Jung what she thinks of that assumption?
 
Michael Diekmann

We did. She said, “It’s to be expected. But it really doesn’t bother me.”
Michael Diekmann: That just shows how relaxed and confident she is about it. But let me be very clear: that would be a completely false and unfair interpretation of this appointment. We made our decision purely on the basis of performance criteria. This applies in equal measure to the three men as it does to Mrs. Jung.
Mrs. Jung has performed exceptionally over the course of many years. She has been Mr. Achleitner’s right hand in all major transactions over the past twelve years. She knows the insurance business, has demonstrated her negotiation skills in countless situations, has an excellent network within the company and is highly respected.
 
So she’s an exception and not just a glimmer of hope for women in the company?
Michael Diekmann: Not at all. Mrs. Jung is a member of a group of outstanding women who we’ve developed over the years and in turn have delivered sterling performances. Now this work has paid off and is set to produce even more talent in the years to come. We’ve always said that it takes time. Now we can finally see the results.

The supervisory board also has female members …
Michael Diekmann: It is good that Stine Bosse has been proposed to join our twelve-strong Supervisory Board, which incidentally has long included another woman, Professor Köcher. But also in this instance I would warn against trivializing the matter: Mrs. Bosse, a successful and experienced CEO of a Danish insurance company, is above all an eminent expert in our business field. And it goes without saying that Mr. Perlet knows the business and Allianz inside out.

Today’s appointments could also be viewed differently: two financial experts, two insurance professionals, two US experts …
… Yes, you could look at it like that, but it wouldn’t do justice to the appointments. If you look closely at their CVs you’ll see that nearly all of them have several fields of expertise and cannot be characterized as specialists of a region or of finance or insurance.
We have colleagues with wide-ranging knowledge of the life insurance business, such as Dieter Wemmer and Max Zimmerer, which in these times of low interest is an enormous advantage. Both have long-term experience in the investment sector and together with Oliver Bäte, Helga Jung and Jay Ralph make up an unbeatable finance team. But we also have colleagues with experience in turnaround and growth, such as Jay Ralph, Werner Zedelius, Manuel Bauer, Christof Mascher and Dieter Wemmer.
If you look at the team as a whole, with both its new and “old” members, I believe that we can certainly hold our heads up high. It’s a very strong team in which seasoned veterans together with new blood will meet the challenges of the coming years. We have also complemented the board with a recognized expert in P&C and life insurance in the guise of Gary Bhojwani. He’s the second American on the board, although both have different roots: Jay Ralph in Switzerland, Gary in India. It broadens the team’s horizons.
Dieter Wemmer, as a new member at Allianz, not only has an outside perspective but – like Clem Booth, Jay Ralph and I – is also well versed in the US market. The board includes managers who have lived, successfully worked and gained experience in all five continents – a truly global team. I very much look forward to working with them all.

How did you manage to find a replacement so quickly for such high-caliber professionals as Paul Achleitner and Enrico Cucchiani?
Michael Diekmann: This is where investment over the years in our human resources policy has paid off, providing the Supervisory Board with an excellent choice of candidates. For many years there has been for each of us as well as for every manager both “emergency candidates” and a long-term successor plan.
Even more importantly, we have set up career development conferences in which we periodically talk extensively about our best people and elaborate development measures and career paths. We also do that on the Board of Management and take a great deal of time doing so – time that has proved thoroughly worthwhile.
On occasions like this we reap the benefits of the close attention we pay to our up-and-coming managers, which enables us to fill the most important positions with good people. Such a stable system is particularly beneficial in times of crisis, and I must say that Allianz has always put a premium on good junior managers.

And yet there’s a tinge of sadness about today …
Michael Diekmann: Yes, because we will be taking leave of three excellent colleagues whom we have much to thank for. We will not forget the achievements of Joachim Faber and Enrico Cucchiani, who will no longer be in the team from 2012, and also of Paul Achleitner, who will remain with us until the end of May. We now have an asset management team that is unrivaled worldwide, a very strong position in Western Europe and Latin America and a world-class finance and investment shop, such as Mr. Achleitner’s division, which accounts for two thirds of our profits.
 
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward Looking Statement disclaimer, provided on the right.

Disclaimer
The statements contained herein may include statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements that are based on management’s current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertain-ties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. In addition to statements which are forward-looking by reason of context, the words “may”, “will”, “should”, “expects”, “plans”, “intends”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “estimates”, “predicts”, “potential”, or “continue” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements.
Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those in such statements due to, without limitation, (i) general economic conditions, including in particular economic conditions in the Allianz Groups core business and core markets, (ii) performance of financial markets, including emerging markets, and including market volatility, liquidity and credit events (iii) the frequency and severity of insured loss events, including from natural catastrophes and including the development of loss expenses, (iv) mortality and morbidity levels and trends, (v) persistency levels, (vi) the extent of credit defaults, (vii) interest rate levels, (viii) currency exchange rates including the Euro/U.S. Dollar exchange rate, (ix) changing levels of competition, (x) changes in laws and regulations, including monetary convergence and the European Monetary Union, (xi) changes in the policies of central banks and/or foreign governments, (xii) the impact of acquisitions, including related integration issues, (xiii) reorganization measures, and (xiv) general competitive factors, in each case on a local, regional, national and/or global basis. Many of these factors may be more likely to occur, or more pronounced, as a result of terrorist activities and their consequences. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement.
No duty to update
The company assumes no obligation to update any information contained herein.

Source :www.allianz.com
 
 

Interviews

Q&A with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder, Centropy PR

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Q&A with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder, Centropy PR 5

Clare George-Hilley is the co-founder of Centropy PR

Global Banking and Finance Magazine recently caught up with Clare George-Hilley, co-founder of fintech and financial services specialist PR agency Centropy, as the company toasts to three years of trading. We asked Clare about what life is like running an agency in the city, the trends she is seeing in the financial services space and what the future holds following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Why did you decide to set up Centropy PR?

I was looking for an opportunity to launch my own agency, both my husband and I had been in the public affairs and public relations industry for over a decade and we thought the time was right to go out on our own.

Clare George-Hilley

Clare George-Hilley

We could see that the financial services industry was surging, with challenger brands and new technology transforming traditional banks and setting new standards of customer service. There was a huge market opportunity to create and launch a PR agency that could provider first class comms support, alongside a deep understanding of complex regulations such as AML, KYC, and the GDPR. Likewise, many traditional technology firms are diversifying their offerings, to tap into the growing market opportunity posed by the fintech boom.

So, we worked on a business plan, designed a strategy for winning clients and officially launched in September 2017. Within a few months we had a growing portfolio of clients and a thriving business, since that point, we have never looked back!

How is Centropy doing now and what are you plans for growth?

The last three years have flown by and our client portfolio has grown and diversified quickly. We now manage PR campaigns for clients on everything from cryptocurrency, wealth management to payments and trading software.

We’ve also hosted parliamentary debates with key industry figures, including Members of Parliament (MPs) on topics such as the future of the financial services industry and the impact of challenger banks on traditional providers. The team is expanding quickly and we’re investing heavily in the latest training and support to ensure our team members are equipped to reach their full potential.

How do you see the next 12 months?

The Covid-19 outbreak has crippled the economy, forcing millions of people to work from home due to the very serious health risks. The knock-on effect of this crisis will lead to companies cutting costs where possible to save jobs, so tech will play a vital role in ensuring many businesses stay afloat.

We are already working with contactless payments specialists and other fintech companies that offer solutions to help companies survive and thrive despite the inevitable challenges ahead.

We aim to continue building our portfolio of expertise, testing ourselves with new challenges and delivering the best possible service to clients

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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Lessons from past recessions and advice for business owners during the coronavirus pandemic

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Lessons from past recessions and advice for business owners during the coronavirus pandemic 6

By Neil Davis, managing director and co-founder of Sterling Networks

What is Sterling Networks?

Sterling Networks is a professional organisation founded in 2014 which facilitates networking events for businesses across the Midlands, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and the South West. Over 300 members attend our fortnightly breakfast and lunchtime meetings.”

What is your background prior to establishing Sterling Networks?

“During the 1990s, I worked in the corporate team for Halifax. My wife, Tracey, and I went onto own a manufacturing business, which was also called Sterling, and produced a range of gifts, merchandise and promotional items.

“We soon realised tradeshows were a great way to meet distributors and clients. From there, the business grew exponentially, and we managed to build a network of around 500 distributors. Eventually, we became ground down by the manufacturing business – in part because the local manufacturing sector was being devastated by competition from China – and took the decision to sell the business and relocate to Spain.

“After spending several years living abroad, we moved back to the UK to set up Sterling Integrity (EXPO’S) & Sterling Networks (Networking) We were inspired by a desire to help businesses make meaningful connections with one another, and we haven’t looked back since.”

The UK has recently entered a recession, brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. What have you learned from past recessions and how are these experiences helping you to navigate the current crisis?

“I’ve lived through a number of recessions and have seen the pain that insolvency causes companies on a large scale. It’s taught me that there are those who win and sadly those who lose, and that businesses must adapt to a rise in demand for certain products or services at a time of financial crisis.

“Given the nature of what Sterling Networks offers [an opportunity for business owners to connect and grow together] I decided we could build upon the brand due to the demand for new business during the pandemic. We therefore moved our networking events from face-to-face to virtual via tools like Zoom and have gained a steady stream of new members in recent months, reaching an overall total of well over 300.

“On top of that, we’ve taken new staff on during the crisis and have launched a number of new regional groups across the country. I was determined that Sterling should come out of the pandemic with a head start, so my attitude to the recession has been much more positive than those who are forecasting nothing but doom and gloom.

“We can’t pretend high street retail wasn’t suffering long before the pandemic came along, and thousands of new businesses are sure to start up to meet the demand for the products and services that people require at a time such as this. In order to develop and grow businesses need to focus on where changes need to be made to meet this demand.”

Sterling Networks has been providing emotional support to its members throughout the pandemic. What advice have you been giving to members that could be useful to other business owners?

“I try not to be too opinionated and respect other people’s views when giving advice to members, as there are always two sides to every circumstance. I’ve been careful not to say to people that they should be doing one thing or another, as I don’t know their business and its needs quite like they do. The only thing that I have been telling members is the importance of setting up one-to-ones with one another. By doing so, they can listen to the needs and concerns of other, like-minded business owners and work out ways that they might be able to help one another.

“The pandemic has meant we all have a bit more time on our hands, so the advice I would give to people is to use this extra time wisely. Not having to travel physically from one meeting to another means there is a greater opportunity to connect with more people. It’s important to remember that individuals outside of your business can be just as valuable as those within it.”

What makes you hopeful for the future and are there any words of encouragement you can give to budding entrepreneurs?

“The key events that have happened to this country during my lifetime – whether wars, recessions, or the pandemic – have enabled me to take stock of things. While these experiences are certainly challenging, we all become stronger for living through them, and it gives me great confidence that the world will ultimately improve as a result of the pandemic.

“The whole world is effectively rebooting right now, as is the business community. I like to think entrepreneurs will recognise this opportunity to take better care of their peers, and this translates to greater collaboration between organisations. Speak to as many people as you can, ask all the questions that you need to and do your homework. This might well be a difficult time for us all but planning for the future must start now if it is to become as prosperous as I know it can be.”

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Exclusive Interview with Ugo Loser, CEO of ARCA Fondi SGR

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Ugo Loser, CEO of ARCA Fondi SGR

 Arca Fondi SGR is a mid-sized Italian active asset management company. Founded in 1983 by a consortium made up of 12 regional banks, the company has grown in time, expanding its network of distributors and its client base. Nowadays Arca manages Mutual Funds, Pension Funds and Institutional Accounts with total AUM exceeding 30 € bln, reaching more than 100 banks and financial institutions and serving more than 800,000 final clients.

What are the key contributors to ARCA Fondi SGR’s success over the past 35 years?

Arca has always put clients and distributors first. That is to say we have always privileged fair pricing for funds and developing high quality products and services for our customers. This requires constant innovation as an objective and looking for people’s talent to be free to produce its effect

Why are people the founding element of ARCA Fondi SGR and how have you sustained this vision over the years?

We work in small teams, people are young and motivated and can perform duties with a high level of autonomy and responsibility. Innovation is asked to everyone, everyday

What makes Arca Fondi SGR different from other asset management firms in Italy?

Arca is a company focused on doing what it can do very well, that is to say mutual and pension funds, services for clients and banks. We never follow short term trends but always look for long lasting impact on the industry, like we’ve done may times in the past

What products/services has ARCA Fondi SGR pioneered?

Arca has been the inventor of “Arca Cedola”, fixed-horizon, coupon paying funds, which have been with no doubt the greatest product innovation of the past 12 years on the Italian market. This type of funds, at first strictly based on bonds and later as a balanced product, has encountered an enormous success both with clients and distributors due to its simple and effective value proposition. Arca is a market leader also in the “PIR” segment of funds, a range of product focused on mid and small sized companies, that have been the best performers in the Italian stock market for the last few years. In services, Arca is a leader in technology applied to asset management. Our website, app and digital services for clients and banks are award winning, state of the art combination of data, technology and channels, and the best is yet to come on this side.

What strategies do you have in place to sustain your market position and withstand professional competition in the country?

As I mentioned, we do not waste resources on projects with dubious results, instead we constantly invest on people, products and services. The high level of profitability that Arca has been able to maintain even in difficult years for the markets of the banking sector is a further testimony that this strategy works very well

How do you use technology to create meaningful experiences for your customers?

First of all, we have created a whole new division, Arca InnovAction Lab, dedicated to technology, data and processes. This ensures projects are delivered quickly and they are free to leave bad past practices behind. Arcaonline.it, Arca’s website, provides distributors with detailed information on clients’ portfolios, asset under management and subscription/redemption requests. It monitors aggregate selling data offering to our partners a suite functions and analytics to track commercial campaigns. And if the banks branches need assistance, they may ask Sara, our digital chatbot. A broad and timely multimedia production, covering exclusive reports, comments, presentations, videos, webinars and newsletters is also available on the website.

Customers, subscribing Arca’s funds through its distributors’ network, may access Arcaclick, a dedicated area on Arcaonline.it. With Arcaclick the client can easily browse through her portfolio of funds, analyze its characteristics, view transactions and historical funds’ performance in customizable views. Arcaclick is also a powerful source of information on Arca product range: Prospectus, KIIDs and other literature is easily accessible along with news, comments and reports. Arcaclick may also be accessed via Arca Fondi App, a free application for mobiles and tables, running on both iOS and Android. Available 24/7 and in mobility, Arcaclick gives clients the opportunity access information, news and details of their personal portfolio anytime and anywhere.

What key trends will drive pension growth in 2020 and beyond?

The Italian market for pension funds is still very small and therefore there is a great opportunity to grow. Arca Fondi manages the biggest open ended Italian pension fund and it’s been constantly at the top of its rankings. As people and workers are looking for yield and to weather short term volatility, the pension fund is very well poised to profit from this trend.

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