Talent management becomes the capital of financial institutions

The current crisis makes it clear that risk management is crucial for the continuity of financial institutions. And talent management must be an integral part of that.

Explanation by Anthony Weemaels & Alexandre Jacobs, Managing Partners at Asquare Partners

Anthony Weemaels and Alexandre Jacobs, Managing Partners at Asquare Partners.

 

Expert in talent & risk management

Anthony: “After a masters in finance and a first experience in the industry, Alexandre and I founded Asquare Partners six years ago, to introduce more a technical expertise in the recruitment sector. We did this, by employing consultants that previously held industry roles (actuaries, auditors and bankers), entering into partnerships with established institutes, associations and universities, and approaching the market in an innovative way, by doing this we gained a lot of credibility.

We are a niche actor, specialised in actuarial science, risk management and data science and we are present in Brussels, Paris, Zurich and Luxembourg.

Three years ago, we also founded Detralytics, with Michel Denuit and Julien Trufin, two actuarial teachers at UCL and ULB. Detralytics is an actuarial consultancy, consisting of 20 actuaries and risk professionals, working in Belgium and France.”

 

Focus on the business objectives

Alexandre: “Risk management is an integral part of the business today. It has to be a partner that allows you to take risks by managing them well. In that sense many of the new models are designed to achieve business needs. So there has been a strong evolution in the business models of financial institutions, and today new risks are also emerging from the transformation of the industry. There is a two-fold effect: the digitalisation and a tremendous acceleration.”

 

Talent management as a cornerstone of risk management

Alexandre: “It is crucial for continuity that institutions foresee all possible scenarios in order to accurately anticipate risks. It is also important that banks and insurers have the right knowledge and skills for this in their team. Today, for example, they are trying to attract more versatile profiles with a specific background in certain risk areas. Talent management therefore becomes the capital of financial institutions. The right combination of talents has to be brought in at the right price.

Due to the corona crisis, banks and insurers will start to work more on this, which will make risk management much more efficient and successful in the future.”

 

Interview by Joris Hendrickx for Risk Management (Trends), Media Planet, Juin 2020.

 

 

Covid-19 : Business is running

Safety, health & business continuity are at the top of our priorities during this particular period. Therefore,  Asquare Partners has decided to close its offices and force all its employees to work from home. We rely on our digital tools to commit to serving our clients and candidates with the same level of quality.

That is why we have decided to put into place a series of new measures :

Why are the insurers moving?

Accenture, Allianz, Ethias, Baloise… Why are they going through a relocating phase?

Last December, when sending our greetings cards we had to double check our address book, and update it ! Indeed, lately, many insurers are changing of offices. Why so many changes ?

 

ACCENTURE BELGIUM

Last October, Accenture announced that they would gather in a same building all its different offices. They chose the Tour-and-Taxi former ferry terminal. In this huge complex of 5.123 m² spread over 4 levels, the 1150 employees share 630 hyper-connected workstations. The rehabilitated complex has been redesigned for a Zen and friendly atmosphere with wood coming from sustainable sources and plenty of vegetation. A first in Europe! Why? To improve well-being at work (more natural light, silence room, library, a healthcare area) and implement highly technological devices and features to improve performance (almost everything is wireless), to reduce CO2 emissions and to be closer to a station and public transportations. Cherry on the cake, it is great publicity to attract young talent and retain employees, and a clever corporate branding move.

 

ALLIANZ BENELUX

Allianz Benelux will soon move to its new office in the Northern district of Brussels. Why? A desire for a new passive, more efficient, brighter, more environmentally friendly building, combining comfort, modernity, technology and proximity to public transportations. The new tower, of approximately 26,600 m2 above ground, will foster all operational activities of the insurer.

 

ETHIAS

Ethias wishes to leave its iconic headquarter in the Rue des Croisiers in Liège. Why ? The building, dating from the 60’s/70’s does no longer respect the Belgian standards. Modernizing the building would be extremely expensive. In addition, the lack of workspaces and parking spot is currently an issue. For economic and practical reasons, Ethias is therefore looking for a new HQ that could welcome its 800 employees that are based in Liège. The choice has not been done yet, although rumor has it that 2 options are considered: near the Guillemins station or Val Benoit.

EBURY

The fintech Ebury, which specializes in financing exporters SMEs, is moving part of its London offices to relocate in Brussels because of… the Brexit!  London will remain its worldwide HQ while the Belgian office will become its European center. Ebury chose Brussels because of the suitable regulation for its activities. Moreover, this move is also motivated by the average annual growth of the group, which has reached 60% since its foundation ten years ago. The company intends to double its workforce in the coming years.

 

And across the border?

BALOISE LUXEMBOURG

Baloise Assurances Luxembourg has signed to join the « Wooden » project and will join Foyer and Lalux in Leudelange by 2022. Same as Accenture Belgium, its new 9.600m2 headquarter should receive the Well Building Standard certification, focusing on the well-being of the employees. Mainly built out of wood, and with a modern structure letting light in and encouraging human exchanges, it will be the first building of that kind and of that size in Luxembourg. The wood used to build the new offices has been sourced sustainably and comes solely from the Luxembourgish forests.

Why moving ? The Baloise workforce has grown extensively in the last years through organic growth and acquisitions. It was essential to expand the workspaces and improve the well-being of its 429 employees. In addition, the interior design did not encourage synergies between teams. The insurer will implement the « Flex office » policy: they will organize the workspaces according to projects and not departments. As a bonus, the brand new and modern building will be a good showcase for clients and potential employees.

VYV

The first mutual insurance group in France will leave its historic offices and will relocate in the 13th arrondissement of Paris during the fall of 2021. Indeed, their current offices will undergo new asbestos removal work and a complete renovation. The top management of the insurance company preferred to relocate to a whole new building that will solely host the Vyv group. The mutual insurance group gathers more than 50 mutual insurances (including Harmonie Mutuelle, MGEN or MNT) and wanted to be able to meet with and to organize meetings with its different entities. Additionally, this project responds to the employees’ request for wider and brighter workspaces.

 

In a nutshell, here are the reasons why an insurer could move :
    1. Rehabilitation: need for a bigger, brighter and safer building.
    2. Improve the employees’ well-being.
    3. Evolution of the workforce size: the need for bigger or smaller workspaces.
    4. Ecology: sustainable and eco-responsible building with a low environmental footprint.
    5. Accessibility and mobility: Getting closer to public transportations and stations.
    6. Technology: integration of new technologies to ease work, interactions and connectivity.
    7. Cost effectiveness: in terms of rent, tax and energy.
    8. Branding: improve corporate branding towards both potential employees and clients.
    9. Regulation: Brexit.

 

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Collaborative insurance: takeoff impending?

Overview of collaborative insurance initiatives

Does collaborative insurance speak to you?

Over the past few years, some 30 collaborative insurance initiatives have been launched around the world. All of them offer an essentially digital service and aim to reduce the cost of insurance. These start-ups are also all eager to challenge the industry’s historical players by significantly improving the customer experience.

For those who don’t know about collaborative insurance don’t panic: in a nutshell, collaborative insurance allows people who have similar profiles to come together in small communities to insure themselves in a more supportive, fair and transparent way.

If the members of a community have few or no claims at the end of the year, they recover part of their contribution. No more non-refundable insurance! Otherwise, the leading player on the French market, provides us with a visual representation of the founding principle of collaborative insurance:

 

 

The practice was developed in the United Kingdom in 2012 with the Bought By Many platform: the company promises a reduction of around 20% on subscribed insurance policies (health, car, home, etc.) thanks to the community connection (already 65,000 members).

On a smaller scale, Véronique Debue, deputy mayor of the commune of Caumont-sur-Durance in the Vaucluse (FR), created a village mutual insurance in 2013 enabling 293 of its citizens to benefit from a health mutual at a negotiated price.

 

Can collaborative insurance replace the traditional insurance model?

We are not there yet. Actually, some insurers are joining forces with collaborative insurers. This is the case of Generali, which has joined forces with Otherwise to launch a dog-cat insurance policy. Why is this interesting for Generali? This partnership is a lever for differentiation and allows the traditional insurer to invest in the field of innovation. According to Generali, “Collaborative insurance is particularly well adapted to this market and this new model has many advantages that will enable [them] to occupy an important place in it. “As for Otherwise, the company benefits from Generali’s historical positioning in this market.

While some collaborative insurance companies manage to build up a solid client portfolio, other players are not so lucky: this is the case of Inspeer, a French start-up company that used to offer a collaborative insurance product dedicated to electric cars, which closed in 2019.

According to Magdalena Ramada Sarasola, Insurtech Innovation Leader at Willis Towers Watson, “peer-to-peer insurance or niche products such as pet insurance are examples of promising ideas … but have not yet found their audience”.

Although collaborative insurance has not yet taken off in France, the success of the collaborative economy holds out the promise of a potentially promising future for this type of insurance as well.

 

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Influx of C-level appointments

What are the last changes in the top positions of the sector?

 

ETHIAS

Ethias has recently hired Wilfried Neven, the former CEO of Allianz Belgium. With 30 years of experience in the insurance industry (ING, P&V, …), he is now in charge of the digital transformation of the company. They are still waiting for the approval of the National Bank.

 

ASSURALIA

As of June 1st, 2020, Hein Lannoy will replace Philippe Colle as CEO of Assuralia. Hein Lannoy worked for the FSMA as a specialist in Commercial and Insurance Law for the former deputy prime minister, Kris Peeters. Furthermore, Hilde Vernaillen (P&V Group) will become the new President of Assuralia, replacing Hans De Cuyper (AG Insurance).

 

KBC

Koenraad Debackere, the general manager of KU Leuven should succeed Thomas Leysen at the head of KBC. His application is currently being reviewed by the regulators. This validation – which is held in Belgium by the National Bank and in Frankfurt by the European Central Bank – must result in a ‘fit and proper certificate’. If the regulators are positive, KBC shareholders will be able to formally appoint Debackere at the general meeting on May 7th.

 

AXA Belgium

After a long break for health reasons, Aimée Van Eersel is back at her position as CFO of Axa Belgium. François Lecomte, her substitute ad interim, decided to quit the AXA group.

 

FEB

Bart De Smet, the former CEO of Ageas and manager of the year 2016, is now the President of the FEB. It’s the first time that a president comes from the financial industry.

 

NN Belgium

The return of Pieter-Bas Vos in Belgium, after being the General Manager of the Turkish branch of the NN group is followed by new appointments in the management team. First, Joost van Ginkel is the new Chief Marketing Officer.  Secondly, Pascal Van Eyken has been designated as Director of Employee Benefits & Self Employed and is now part of the NN Belgium Management Team. Quick reminder, Pascal Van Eyken joined NN one year ago as EB Sales Director. He has extensive experience in the insurance and brokerage industry as a former CEO of Gras Savoye and Willis Towers Watson.

 

ING Belgium

Last weekend, Koen Van Gerven quit the management of Bpost. The (now) former CEO is expected to join ING Belgium’s  Executive board. At the moment, he is waiting for the “fit & proper” validation of the NBB.

 

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