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Allianz confirms digital chief's move as technology strategy evolves

Allianz Group Chief Digital Officer, Solmaz Altin, will leave his current position and head to a "very attractive job" elsewhere in the group, CEO Oliver Bäte said Feb. 16.

The move had been reported in German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Feb. 5.

Responding to journalists' questions at a press conference held after Allianz had released its fourth-quarter 2017 results, Bäte did not confirm where Altin would go. But he said: "Mr. Altin is one of our best executive talents. He showed his courage by really getting into a field that hadn't really been dealt with before, which is always difficult."

Bäte acknowledged that there had been "critical voices" in relation to the Allianz X technology investment unit, which in November 2017 shifted its focus away from investing in startups, but said it had been a "huge success". He added: "We get access to investments that others don't have, so we congratulate [Altin] on this and we continue to develop him in the group."

'Cultural change'

The change comes as Allianz's technology strategy is evolving, with Bäte saying the company's adoption of technology should "not just happen in a separate digital factory — it has to be part of the DNA of Allianz."

The German insurer has been successful in investing in technology businesses, according to the CEO, but has more to do to translate this into benefits for customers and the company. Allianz is working on a "cultural change" that will result in the simplification of processes and increased productivity.

"After two and a half years of investments in digitization we have created a lot of assets, but what we have not yet managed is to simplify the business model underneath [in a way that can] reduce the cost ratio and be felt by our customers," Bäte said. "If you look at it from a customer point of view, on [property and casualty insurance] especially, we are much too complicated. We need to combine technology and intelligence with our experience, and we need to consistently simplify our processes for our customers, and we haven't done this yet."

When asked whether online retailers such as Amazon offering insurance products would pose a threat to Allianz, Bäte pointed out that such companies were likely to act as distributors rather than having licenses to write insurance in each of the countries they wanted to operate in, and so Allianz wanted to work out how best to partner with them. He said those companies with a single, unified technology platform would be best placed to connect with such global distributors.

"That is why we are investing so consistently into unifying our technology," he added. "We want to be a preferred point of contact for these companies."