EastWest Ageas Insurance CEO Sjoerd Smeets leads company to greater heights

EastWest Ageas Insurance CEO Sjoerd Smeets leads company to greater heights

/ 03:44 PM December 18, 2023

Written by: Annelle Tayao-Juego

Standing over six feet and six inches, Sjoerd Smeets, President and Chief Executive Officer of EastWest Ageas Insurance, literally towers over everyone and everything inside the company‘s office in one of Taguig City’s high-rises, where he leads a 495-strong workforce that’s focused on one key goal: To elevate the company and help the insurance industry as a whole in the Philippine market.

“My focus is growing the company. We all know that life insurance penetration in the Philippines is still relatively low, so we really need to work on that aspect,” says Smeets, whose exceptional height easily singles him out in a workplace where the average staff stands more than a foot lower. Smeets admits that, in terms of his career–from the year he entered the financial industry as an actuary in 2004 until today–he has always been drawn to work in companies that need his expertise to achieve rapid growth, or a change for the better.

Eastwest Ageas Life Insurance 1

Meet the President and CEO of Eastwest Ageas, Sjoerd Smeets, who has high hopes for the Philippine insurance industry that matches his own towering height.

For EastWest Ageas Insurance, Smeets’ focus remains the same: growing the business and expanding penetration of life insurance across the country, guided strongly by a highly customer-centric approach and philosophy.

“I really value customer-centricity to a level that’s extreme,” says Smeets. “As a CEO, you really need to stand for the product that you sell, and that’s why I’m passionate about setting high-quality standards.”

To ensure that these standards are met, Smeets says he does his part by responding to the needs of those who serve the insurance company’s customers: EastWest Ageas’ employees and agents. Smeets achieves this by immersing himself in the culture; having worked with international teams in Russia, Belgium, Portugal, and now the Philippines. Smeets says he makes it a point to take a cultural course to learn more about the local team he will be working with.

Eastwest Ageas Life Insurance 1

Since joining EastWest Ageas in late 2022, Smeets says he has seen how Filipinos are very “driven” at work. “Filipinos are quite creative; the energy that they get when they do something creative is quite different from what I’ve seen in other countries,” he adds. “Work here is also about relationships and creating an atmosphere that people can work in well.”

Transparency and a “no politics” attitude have also been consistent success factors in Smeets’ leadership style, wherever he is in the world. “I might adjust the way I speak, but people will know where I stand, and I will try to communicate that,” says the father of two, who adds that his kids give him the energy to go about his day, which starts early every morning at around 7:15. Meeting with agents or having lunch with employees provides Smeets with useful insight into their performance and how their customers perceive EastWest Ageas.

Asked if his height has any impact on how people work with him, Smeets says his exceptional trait is more of a “first impression” kind of thing.

“When it comes to being a good leader, it’s really more about how you act, how people relate to you, your vision.”

That vision, Smeets explains, is to have EastWest Ageas included in the top companies in the local market, especially with their growing agency force. While a recent survey showed that more Filipinos–eight out of ten–now see the value of having an insurance policy, financial literacy across the country still has a lot to improve on.

“Customers really aren’t aware about insurance since it’s a very low-contact kind of business. Every week, you go to the supermarket; with a bank, I would say that at least a couple of times a week you interact with them on your mobile, “ says Smeets. “That’s why we need to have very well-trained financial consultants who can really work with our customers to really understand their needs.”

Thankfully, he says they also see a behavioral change of the younger generation towards insurance, with many understanding that they should be taking their financial stability in their own hands as they grow older.

Finally, Smeets also noted that their digital transformation will also enable them to further enhance both their products and service. Just recently, EastWest Ageas implemented a new core system that allows them to reduce the time that a customer needs to purchase a policy, as well as position the company’s products towards a more digital ecosystem.

“Digital ecosystems are the future, but I also believe that with life insurance, there will always be a need for face to face intervention and financial advice, because insurance is a big investment that Filipinos want to ensure they talk to someone who can guide them,” says Smeets.


TAGS: BrandRoom, EastWest Ageas Life, Insurance, Philippine Daily Inquirer

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.