Despite Switzerland seeing sharp fluctuations in exchange rates and interest rates and the associated increased cost of hedging instruments last year, the Baloise Group — which offers insurance and pension solutions — stuck to its steady strategy for growth, generating a healthy profit in 2015.
An agile workforce with a strong culture
Having just stepped up as Baloise’s leader in January last year, CEO Gert De Winter says the success that the company has seen in a difficult economic climate can be attributed to its people, who “all march in the same direction”.
Headquartered in Switzerland, with offices in Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg, Gert says it has been relatively easy to ensure his team are working together to drive innovation and strategise effectively.
“We have enormous capacity in terms of disciplined execution. Although our strategy may look somewhat similar to other companies, we have the enormous advantage of actually being able to execute it rapidly because we remain agile,” he says.
Creating a safer world for more than 150 years
Founded in 1863 as the Basler Insurance Company, Baloise has always placed safety and security as a top priority. The company’s ‘Safety World’ policy means that Baloise’s 7,400-strong staff is always looking to prevent disaster for its customers, as well as providing support when it cannot be avoided. Beloise produces apps, tips, and products focused on keeping people safe and Gert says this priority is something that sets the business apart.
“At Baloise, we disagree that the insurance industry is boring. Safety is an essential need for everybody. You need to feel safe to be able to invest personally, or in your business, so you know there is a plan B if something goes wrong,” says Gert. “With Safety World we offer a more holistic perspective, offering services that really help people when something goes wrong or try to prevent things from going wrong in the first place — and being there when things do go wrong.”
Looking forward to a secure future
Beloise continues to rise to the challenges facing the insurance industry. The change in consumer behaviour resulting from digitisation is increasingly influencing the way it serves its customers. Gert sees it as a chance to show how his company can innovate and break into new areas of business.
The insurance product is becoming much more mobile. In the future, customers will actually take out insurance coverage when they need it, for the time they need it, and for the specific risks they want to take,” he says. “Europe is still very much about the one year to three year contracting, where everything is covered — even the things you don’t need — with a lot of overlap. I don’t think customers will accept that going forward.
Baloise Group key facts
- Company name: Baloise Group
- Headquarters: Basel, Switzerland
- Number of employees: 7,400
- Annual turnover: CHF 8.981 billion (2015)
- Industry: Finance & Banking