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.
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?
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.
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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.
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