Thomas Buberl Chief Executive Officer of AXA

« I believe we are entering a new golden age of insurance »

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Apr 25, 2018

The need for protection is increasing worldwide. Over the past year, cyberattacks have cost businesses billions of euros and global warming has made a tangible impact. Emerging risks have become real threats.

At the same time, economic, technological and societal changes, such as new ways of working fostered by the sharing economy, are generating an unprecedented demand for protection. Advances in medicine are raising hopes but also questions about our social protection system.

Given the diversity and scale of these transformations, the answers can only be collective. Risk pooling through insurance is a remarkably modern response to the challenges facing our society. In contrast to certain hyper-personalization models, we are developing a system that promotes social cohesion. For insurers, the growth potential offered by this new golden age is immense, provided we successfully transform our approach and pass on the benefits to our customers.

Our balanced global presence offers significant synergies, along with the best growth opportunities. We rank among the top five insurers in many key markets, as well as high- potential countries. In all our markets, our unique, powerful AXA brand is a mark of the trust from our customers and an asset to our partnership policy. Our robust financial health also makes a difference. With our ambition 2020 strategic plan, we are further boosting our competitive advantage and reducing our exposure to the volatility of financial markets. This makes us a solid and sustainable partner.

But I believe we can and must go even further in transforming our model. Consumers are still wary of our industry, despite our purpose of empowering them through greater peace of mind and the assurance that their lives can be safer, healthier and full of opportunities. This is paradoxical! We must build the trust and understanding that create a strong relationship, as the bedrock of our insurance business. Fair and quick payments are essential, and we still need to improve in this area, but we must go beyond the role of bill payer to become a full-fledged partner for our customers. I am convinced services are the key to achieving this goal.

Every year, 20% of our customers report a claim and they expect more than financial compensation. They want us to minimize the impact of a loss, accident or health problem on their everyday lives. This is where smart solutions come in. To help motorists, we have developed services ranging from courtesy replacement vehicles to assistance in choosing the best mechanics. For patients, we are boosting our health services to provide better support throughout their treatment.

What are we doing for the 80% of customers who do not report claims? Knowing they can count on a good insurance policy brings some peace of mind, but we can do more by giving them the means to avoid trouble in the first place. This means making our risk data available to them and developing prevention tools. In healthcare, innovations such as telemedicine and predictive analysis can help our customers prevent health problems or detect them early. In developing new services, we are expanding our role to become an innovative partner across the entire value chain: before, during and after any claims.

Innovation is naturally a key driver of this transformation. We need to be creative to invent new services for our customers, develop new insurance models, support new forms of mobility, adapt to healthcare developments, and more. With this in mind, we have set up a new innovation department, reporting directly to me and we have strengthened our capacity to acquire new high-value businesses. From now on, we will allocate €200 million to innovation acquisitions every year. We will give the newly integrated activities time to develop, blend naturally with our entities and permeate the group. This open innovation ecosystem will allow us to develop services that are complementary to our products or even independent of our insurance coverage.

While accelerating innovation, we are rebalancing AXA's business mix, focusing on three priority growth segments: protection, property & casualty commercial lines, and health. These are the business lines that generate the most frequent interactions with our customers, enabling us to provide everyday support as a partner. Through these activities, we are also prioritizing pure insurance products and reducing our exposure to financial markets. Our plan to acquire xl group is a leap forward in this strategic shift and I am convinced it will create long-term value for our group, our customers and our shareholders.

In 2017, we also simplified and decentralized our organization, removing two layers of management to facilitate local decision-making. Our resources and responsibilities must be as close as possible to our customers. This is crucial if we want to be more relevant and effective.

AXA is now in a position to fully embrace this new golden age of insurance. We will do so without compromising on our values and social commitments. A good example is our action on climate change, which will remain a priority in the coming years, with significant commitments and investments between now and 2020. Of course, we cannot take anything for granted, but I am confident our expertise and collective efforts will open up new avenues and empower our customers to live a better life.

Find all documents related to the 2017 Integrated Report

Tags: Finance