Marc Raisière is familiar with both the insurance and banking worlds and analyzes their evolution. For the former, he responds to the challenges of aging, mobility and home protection against a backdrop of climate change. For the latter, digital technology is making its presence felt in retail as well as in asset management, along with the support of bankers who bring real added value to their clients.
We have to keep in mind, both for the banking and insurance sectors, that we always overestimate the impact of major developments in the short term and underestimate them in the long term. This is the case with digital and technology, which has allowed us to better anticipate customer needs.
Digital tools and applications have revolutionized the banking industry and continue to do so with data, technology and artificial intelligence. Today, in 2030, branches still play a very important role with customers by adapting to an increasingly aging population. Communication must be simple enough for all customers, while knowing that some products are more complex than others, such as pension savings, for example. The human touch is still present. Since 2022, both insurers and bankers have developed the model beyond insurance and beyond banking.
CEO Belfius Group
The challenge of aging
As far as insurance is concerned, the major challenge is linked to aging. The sector must provide an answer to the question of financing retirement. In addition, insurers must also be ready to deal with the issues of mobility and home protection in the broadest sense.
We are living and working longer and longer, but the increase in working time is less than the increase in lifetime. Therefore, managing and building up retirement assets is an extremely important business in periods where public pension schemes are increasingly under pressure as a result of a progressively aging population. Financial planning is a crucial activity for the affluent middle class. Wealthy people can benefit from the advice of private bankers and wealth managers. For the rest of the population, we have gradually moved to a pay-as-you-go system, accompanied by a capitalization system.
Currently, for both mobility and home, we are evolving in an ecosystem where technology plays a central role to further assist the customers. Mobility is different and car insurance has been totally revisited because people don‘t move around like they did a decade ago. Insurers have adapted. This type of insurance, which used to depend on the vehicle, now depends on the person.
As far as the home is concerned, climate change with its share of disasters (floods, drought, fires) worries clients, who fear they will no longer be insured. The risks are multiplying, premiums are rising and the bancassurer has taken on the role of risk manager. Customers increasingly want to be reassured or advised by specialists. The importance of bancassurance, with distribution being an important factor, has increased.
For corporate, additional risks have emerged over the past years – such as cyber security – and force insurance companies to adapt their product offering accordingly.
Coming back to the banking sector, digital processes are being deployed more in retail for everything beyond banking. For Belfius, insurance is not beyond banking, it is our business. On the other hand, the number of partners in other areas has increased and contributed to the strengthening of our ecosystem, both in mobility and home protection.
For corporate banking and business banking, we have achieved an extremely advanced industrialization of corporate data. However, we still need to meet the entrepreneur at some point, because it is he or she who will ultimately convince us to issue a loan. But our bankers are already much better informed and the entrepreneur is accompanied from a 360° digital point of view, as is also the case in retail. This makes it much easier for the CEO and CFO. Bankers like us are investing massively in this target.
Emergence of the GAFAs
In private banking and wealth management, asset management is industrialized using robots that understand the context, the issues and provide possible answers. In addition to this industrialized solution, we developed more important methods of communication and expertise with people especially in a world where complexity and uncertainty are increasing. Our bankers and pension managers bring real added value to the clients.
During crises, banks and financial institutions have proven their resilience. Beyond market concentration, local banks will continue to exist because each country will ultimately defend its own interests. There is no revolution in our sector except for the emergence of the GAFAs (an acronym for the tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon). We are able to compete with other banks, but much more challenging are the GAFAs or the type of company that has such a large volume of customers, such trust with their customers and considerable financial resources.
As far as ESG is concerned, it is our societal responsibility to accompany our clients in their transition. As a strongly Belgian-anchored bankinsurer, with the Belgian federal government as sole shareholder, we are also very attentive to the more vulnerable, for whom the costs of the energy transition are greater.
We are more concerned than ever about remaining a winning company with a strong brand and to continue offering a working environment where employees feel good. This is what allows us to continue to be attractive on the job market and to continue to retain competent people. In addition, Belfius continues developing diversity because it brings richness and other perspectives in key discussions and debates.
As far as insurance is concerned, the major challenge is linked to aging. The sector has to provide an answer to the question of how to finance pensions.
About the interviewee
A graduate in mathematics and actuarial sciences, Marc Raisière has spent most of his professional career in insurance at Fortis AG and then Axa, both in Belgium and abroad. He became CEO of Belfius Insurance in 2012 before being appointed CEO of the Belfius Group two years later. He was elected Manager of the Year in 2016.
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