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Allianz gives PH another go

German insurance giant banks on partnership with the Lucio Tan group
By: - Business Features Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 05:01 AM May 06, 2019
Allianz gives PH another go

Allianz PNB Life CEO Olaf Kliesow

The Allianz Group is an easily recognized name in the global insurance industry, with the Munich-based institution enjoying a strong marketing position in the countries where it operates.

It, too, is making serious headway in the Philippines, where it has come back, this time through a joint venture with the Philippine National Bank, with Allianz having a 51-percent stake.

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Leading the charge in the Philippines is Olaf Kliesow, the first CEO of Allianz PNB Life Insurance Inc. set up in 2016.

Like anything new, the joint venture went through the requisite growing pains, with the first few months dedicated to developing a relationship of trust between the two organizations.

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Indeed, Kliesow’s first responsibility was to plant the seeds of a fruitful relationship.

“My main role in the beginning in 2016 was to bring both parties together, both on the personal and the organizational levels. From the beginning of 2017, things started to develop well,” Kliesow said.

And the relationship has continued to bear much fruit with the sales so far this year going beyond expectations.

“The collaboration has been getting better every year. We are solid and we are growing a bit ahead of our projection,” said Kliesow, “We are growing very fast and we hope to outperform the market.”

To do that, Allianz PNB Life, chaired by Lucio Tan, is banking on two major channels—bancassurance and agency sales.

For now, sales are split evenly between the two channels, said Kliesow, who jumped at the chance to be assigned CEO in the Philippines.

And while he arrived on Dec. 21, 2015, in the middle of a typhoon and greeted by the infamous Manila traffic, he knew he would have a grand time here, thanks to the sun and the Filipino people.

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Kliesow shared that the joint venture was forged as Allianz was looking at a larger stake in the Philippines.

It shopped around for potential collaborators and it ended up with PNB.

This after pulling out of the country following the end of its relationship with another life insurance company amid low premiums.

This time, Kliesow said it was coming in big.

The Allianz Group is expanding aggressively in Asia as the region is experiencing significant growth, thus accounting for an increasing share of the total Allianz portfolio.

“Asia is in a more prominent position now,” Kliesow said, “And we have to participate where the growth is and that growth is coming from Asia.”

The Philippines is also a big untapped market as despite the growth in the middle class amid a robust economy, it has remained woefully underinsured with total insurance premiums—both individual and group—accounting for just about 1.72 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Philippines’ number is comparable to that of Indonesia, but just about half that of Thailand, where total life premium over gross domestic product is around 3-4 percent.

“The awareness here is really low and that is a big risk,” said Kliesow, the first foreigner to be elected president of the Philippine Life Insurance Association.

Then there’s the issue of convenience.

Since it is hard enough to convince people to get an insurance policy, it is incumbent upon the market players to make sure that it is easy for the consumers to pay for them to help ensure that the policy will remain in force.

“We want to transfer the awareness to need and then to convenience,” said Kliesow.

As for Allianz, Kliesow, who will leave the post in June to take on a new role within the Allianz Group, where he has been involved since 2010, said the company was dedicated to expanding its distribution network given the great growth opportunities presented by the Philippines.

Diversification is its mantra.

Kliesow, who will be succeeded by Allianz PNB Life COO Alexander Grenz, knows full well the competition it is up against.

The market is dominated by foreign and local insurance groups that have been in the Philippine market for over 100 years.

Kliesow, however, is confident that there is room for the joint venture to grow.

What it puts on the table are a global know-how, service and quality insurance products.

“We are very bullish about the market, especially with the achievements over the past years. Potentially, we might be extending the foothold here,” said Kliesow,” We are very happy with our collaborations.”

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