Posts

AXA Future Risks Report: what are tomorrow’s risks?

A pessimist guide to tomorrow’s greatest threats

 

For the last 7 years, AXA has published its AXA Future Risks Report. This year, they partnered with IPSOS and the geopolitical analysis firm Eurasia Group. The study was led in July 2020, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and interrogated risk experts and citizens around the globe.

Obviously, given the context, the pandemic risk is the center of attention. Although last year it was clearly overlooked and ranked at the 8th place in the future risks ranking, this year the risk experts put it as 1st risk for the next 5 to 10 years. The two following risks are climate change and cyber security.

Axa Future Risks Report 2020

 

1. The impact of pandemics and infectious diseases

Indeed, unless you have been living under a rock for the last 9 months, you are aware we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Logically, this reflects in the risk experts’ concerns, as the number of them that ranks pandemics as a major emerging risk more than doubled, from 23% to 56% compared to 2019.

However, pandemics and infectious diseases are not just the top emerging risks because of the very current and tangible threat to the general population’s health. The lockdown and the Covid-19 have had important consequences and impacts. Indeed, the spiraling public debt, the escalation of geopolitical tension, growing mental health issues and surging inequalities are other risks that were accelerated by the pandemics. Furthermore, the public attention, both from governments and citizens, dedicated to the coronavirus crisis will likely steal the thunder of other major but less imminent threats, steering even more other underrated risks.

 

2. Climate change

Last year, climate change was the number one risk according to risk experts worldwide. This year, it has been overshadowed by the current sanitary crisis and is now 2nd in the risk perception ranking.  It seems that the short-term issues have overshadowed the longer-term threats as Thomas Buberl highlights. This observation is even truer for the regions thar are the most polluting and most at risk of climate change consequences: Asia and Americas. Indeed, in North America, for instance, the share of experts worried about climate sunk from 71% in 2019 to 46% this year.

 

3. Cyber risks

Cyber security is still considered as one of the major risks for the next 5 to 10 years, although it lost one place in the ranking (from 2nd to 3rd). Surprisingly, or not, the lockdown has cyber security needs.  Remote working is the new normal.  The use of online devices and systems for both private and professional communications has increased the points of cyber vulnerability. Additionally, homeworkers may also be using personal devices, which, unlike office equipment, may not be configured with the latest cyber defenses.

Working remotely also means less fluid communications between teams or departments, hackers tested the limits during the lockdown, and from February to March 2020, the number of phishing e-mails has increased by 667%, as revealed by Infosecurity Magazine.

 

4. Overlooked risks

Last year, pandemics and infectious diseases was one of the overlooked risks, but as we all know, it turned out that the risk was way higher than foreseen by the risk experts. What are the current risks that might be overlooked?

  • Mental health issues, rates of mental health issues are higher than ever, and the lockdown took a toll on mental public health.
  • De- and mis-information, specifically in the period of elections in various region of the globe
  • Advanced technologies and the use of AI, as well as deontology and ethics in the use of AI and big data. Even Elon Musk is worried about that ! Furthermore, Nancy Bewlay, Global Chief Underwriting Officer of AXA XL adds “Advanced technologies, such as AI and machine learning, are increasingly being used to predict the future. There’s a real risk that these predictions will be wrong or biased if the models are incorrect or are not based on enough data.”
  • Finally, as the focus is on Covid-19 regarding health issues, experts are less concerned about antimicrobial resistance and superbugs, this risk tumbled from 29% last year to 9% this year. There may have been a decrease in the perceived severity of antimicrobial resistance, but it still has the potential to create a future health crisis. The report states “Global spread of bugs’ resistance to common antibiotics could dramatically raise the risk level of common healthcare treatments such as chemotherapy, organ transplants, caesarean sections, and hip replacements. This would not only prolong illness but also significantly increase the cost of healthcare. The impact of these risks may be less sudden than a pandemic, but the long-term effects have the potential to be equally devastating.”

 

5. Towards more interdependent risks

Finally, the AXA Future Risk report highlights the fact that risks are more and more connected and interdependent. The current pandemic exemplifies how they are global, complex, and, therefore, difficult to address. Indeed, the pandemic impacted health (obviously), macroeconomic, debt, poverty, mental health…  This interlinking requires a global, interdisciplinary, and multi-stakeholder approach to prevention and protection. Another good example of that is the impact that the misinformation and spreading of fake news can have on other risks’ perception (climate change, pandemic…). As one of the experts who answered to the study put it “Perhaps the biggest emerging risk is our ever-reducing

 

Sources :

Appointments update October 2020 : Women at the Top!

October has brought its share of appointments in Belgium, with some major changes at the top of several companies, paving the way for parity between men and women. Here is our monthly overview of the most recent assignations.
 

AG Insurance

As of today, October the 22nd, Heidi Delobelle is officially the new CEO of AG Insurance. She succeeds to Hans De Cuyper, who has been appointed to a new role at a group level. As a matter of fact, as from today, Hans de Cuyper is CEO of Ageas, replacing Bart de Smet.

Heidi Delobelle has already announced that she will continue the work of her predecessor. She also wants to arm AG Insurance for the digital shift and transform the insurer into a “socially responsible” company.
 

Euler Hermes

The Belgian Wilfried Verstraete leaves his position as CEO of the world’s leading credit insurance company to make way for French citizen Clarisse Kopff.

Wilfried Verstraete sings his successor’s praise: “I am convinced that thanks to her visionary leadership, and her experience at Allianz France, Clarisse will take Euler Hermes to the next level and continue to raise the quality standards in credit insurance even further”.
 

Assuralia

Wauthier Robyns, spokesperson for Assuralia, will leave office in the beginning of 2022. After having been the face of insurance in Belgium for forty years, he will be taking over the five-year mandate as representative of the financial sector in the European Economic and Social Committee.

Barbara Van Speybroeck will replace him at Assuralia from December the 1st as Communications Director.
 

Actuarial Association of Europe

Wilhelm Schneemeier has been elected as the new Chairperson of the AAE for the next twelve months. Philippe Demol (Belgium) and Inga Helmane (Latvia) were elected as Board members replacing José Mendinhos (Portugal) and Kartina Thomson (UK) whose terms ended.
 
 

Sources:

Appointments update in the financial and insurance industry #Belgium

Although the last months have been highly unusual for all industries, the finance and insurance business goes on. Let’s take stock of the changes that occurred during this period, shall we?

 

AXA Belgium

New CFO and new CRO

As from October 1st, Sabine Wuiame, currently CRO, will be appointed CFO, being member of the Management Committee and the Administrative Board of AXA Belgium. Sabine Wuiame joined AXA as CRO in 2016. She will replace Aimée Van Eersel, former CFO, who sadly passed away recently.

A new CRO has been appointed: Lucie Taleyson will start as from October 1st. Lucie Taleyson is currently Technical Director in Group Health insurance at AXA France and joined the AXA group in 2006. Both appointments are still waiting for the validation of the NBB.

 

AGEAS

Hans De Cuyper to succeed Bart De Smet as CEO of Ageas

Hans De Cuyper will succeed Bart De Smet as CEO of Ageas as from 22 October 2020. On the same date, Bart De Smet will become Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Group, replacing Jozef De Mey who recently announced his decision to leave his position.

Indeed, Jozef De Mey has decided to step down as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ageas NV as of 22 October 2020, on the shareholders’ meeting. This early departure is a personal decision taken by the Chairman. His current term of office was scheduled to expire on May 19, 2021.

 

ING BELGIUM

CEO Erik Van den Eynden leaves ING Belgium

CEO Erik Van Den Eynden leaves ING Belgium after three years as CEO. CFO Hans De Munck becomes interim CEO until a replacement is appointed.

Erik Van Den Eynden, declares that it is a personal decision. He has been running the bank since March 2017, just after his predecessor Rik Vandenberghe announced a major restructuring. He started his career in 1990 at the then BBL.

 

MeDIRECT

Tim Rooney Becomes CEO of MeDirect

Philippe Delva, the current CEO of MeDirect, has been replaced in August by Tim Rooney who left his position as CEO at Nagelmackers Bank in February. Previously, Tim Rooney was CEO of Anbang Belgium, the Chinese company Anbang, which, in addition to Nagelmackers, also included the insurer Fidea.

 

ARAG

Diederik Moris joins ARAG Belgium as Chief Commercial Officer

Diederik Moris joined ARAG Belgium in May, the legal expenses insurer, as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). As such, he is responsible for the Sales & Marketing Department.

 

MS AMLIN INSURANCE

Ludovic Sénécaut, new CEO of MS Amlin Insurance SE

On June 1st, Ludovic Sénécaut joined MS Amlin Insurance SE, a member of Assuralia, as CEO.

He took over from Rudy Benmeridja, who is taking over his position as Underwriting Director for the P&C (Property & Casualty) branch for Europe and will assume the general management for Belgium of MS Amlin SE.

 

Sources:

 

Troubled first semester for the insurance industry: Only three insurers have seen a raise in their revenues this year. Who are they?

Now that insurance groups have started to share their financial results for the first semester of 2020, the time has come to look back on this troubled first half of the year.

Due to the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown, most companies have seen a down in their results compared to the same period last year. Out of all the groups that published their financial results, only three have seen a raise in their revenues.

OVERVIEW

Overall we can observe that the Non-Life premiums and operating results raised due to the drop in sinistrality during the lockdown, while the premiums written for Life insurance have dropped. The bank-insurers have also quite suffered on the bank activities, while the insurance activities did not suffer as much and compensated or alleviated the effects of the lockdown. The bank activities were impacted by several factors: the investments were impacted by the economic turmoil created by the uncertainty, and consequently there was a decrease of the investment and net fee commissions. Furthermore, between the tightening of conditions to access a mortgage credit and the covid19, which logically slowed down real estate purchases, incomes from financial transactions decreased for banks, while many of them allowed their clients to suspend or reduce monthly payments due to a partial or total loss of income, further aggravating the impact of the pandemic on their income.

THE UPS +

AGEAS GROUP

The international insurance group has communicated a raise in their net result: for the first half of 2020 they generated €791 million while for 2019 they reached €606 million. The Belgian group witnessed a down in the gross Life premiums written but it was compensated by the Non-Life thanks to the drop of sinistrality during the lockdown. The Belgian entity, AG Insurance has not yet published its half-year results, we have yet to see how impacted the leader of the insurance market in Belgium was.

BALOISE GROUP

The Swiss group has announced a raise on the EBIT of the Belgian branch of 46,6% (2020: CHF105,1 million; 2019: CHF71,7 million). The gross premiums written for Life are up by 12,4% and the Non-Life are up by 24,8%. The latest result is explained by 2 factors: the decrease of sinistrality during the lockdown, and the acquisition of Fidea and of the Non-Life portfolio of Athora Belgium.

ARGENTA

For this first semester of 2020, the bank-insurer has published a consolidated turnover of €94 million, versus €77 million for 2019. The net result is also going up compared to last year: €31 million for 2020 and €29 million for 2019. Their gross premium written for Life insurance rose by 22%, while for Non-Life, they rose by 5%.

THE DOWNS –

AXA GROUP

The French group has published its semester results and at the group level, with their turnover of €52 billion, they lost 2% on their turnover compared to the first half of last year. The impact on their net result is that it dropped by 60,8%, going from €2,3 billion to €1.4 billion. The AXA group has estimated that the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown has cost them around €1,5 billion, most of it due to events cancellations and business interruptions claims. Given that those are the results at the group level, and that AXA was involved in several lawsuits regarding the business interruption claims in France, the Belgian entity might not be as impacted as the group level shows.

KBC GROUP

The bank-insurer has seen a drop in its net results for the first semester compared to last year: €1175 million for 2019 to €205 million for 2020. However, when looking on details, we can see that the insurance activities of the KBC group are going up. Indeed, the Non-Life technical result raised by 27% while the Life technical result raised by 1%. As many bank-insurers, it is the bank results that suffered the most during this period.

BELFIUS GROUP

The bank-insurer Belfius has also been negatively impacted by the lockdown and the uncertainty on the financial markets due to the pandemic. The net result at the group level dropped from €414 million for the 1st semester of 2019 to €26 million for 2020. Meanwhile for the insurance activities specifically, the group has announced a net result of €89 million versus €126 million for the same period last year. When looking more in details we can see that the total amount of gross premiums written for Life insurance lowered by 33% while for the Non-Life the raised by 43%.

ALLIANZ BENELUX

The Benelux entity of the German group has seen a drop in their net result: from € 111,6 million to €97,7 million. Mainly due to the Luxemburgish portfolio, the gross premiums written in Life insurance are down by 27,6% while the Non-Life premium are up by 3,5%.

NN GROUP

For this first half of the year, the NN group has published a drop of 47,5% on their net result (2020: €587 million, 2019: €1118 million). However, the impact on their European insurance portfolio is lesser important, indeed, they witnessed a down of 5,1% of their results in insurance in Europe (2020: €133 million; 2019: €140 million).

Sources :

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.

 

Source :