Gregor Pilgram: We wish to become a life-time partner for our customers
06 March 2019
Gregor Pilgram, Chief Financial Officer for Central and Eastern Europe at Generali CEE Holding, provided interview for Slovene Marketing Magazin after Generali completed acquisition of Adriatic Slovenica (AS) and KD Funds in Slovenia and when the integration of both insurance companies was announced.
In 2010 you received Young Manager of the Year award with argument that you have co-shaped Slovenian insurance market and contributed to the fact, that Generali became one of the market leaders in insurance in Slovenia. How would you describe the position of Generali on Slovenian market today, almost a decade after receiving this award?
Today this is a totally new insurance company compared to a decade ago, when Generali needed to make its first serious positioning on Slovene insurance market. At that time we decided to take advantage of the situation on the car insurance market, so we did especially aggressive product marketing action. This helped Generali to take position among the most innovative providers in the field of car insurance. This milestone can be regarded as the beginning of a larger story of Generali insurance in Slovenia. After ten years, similarly as the whole insurance sector, the insurance company has changed what we want to show the market and what we offer on the market. From product offer we shifted to customer care. Today Generali is insurance company with the most satisfied customers in Slovenia, we have also developed a system for tracking client satisfaction. We are the only insurance company with inhouse system of measuring client satisfaction “Net Promotor System”, with which we want to direct all our activities towards putting the customers in the center of our attention.
Since 2013 you live in Prague, where you have taken over the position of Chief Financial Officer for Central and East Europe in the Generali Group. Which are the essential differences between Slovenian and Czech insurance market? How developed are both markets regarding introducing advanced technological solutions in insurance services?
In reality both markets are pretty similar – they are both relatively developed in the area of insurance, they have conventional offer of insurance services and conventional sales channels. If we look wider we are placing Slovenia, Czech Republic and Slovakia among more developed markets, while interesting emerging markets are Bulgaria, Romania and partially Russia. The latter are becoming more technologically interesting than the conventional markets, where technology is being used in particular processes or for automatization, but they have not completely replaced the standard offer by representatives, agents and all others. Long-term this is not something we expect.
How have you got accustomed to living in the Czech capital city? Do you travel frequently between Prague and Ljubljana?
Otherwise I live between Prague, Vienna, Moscow and Ljubljana. Prague is a very interesting city, that has been in the last six, seven years developing due to a great improvement of economic environment and it is becoming an European metropolis. But when you return to Slovenia you find out what a quality life is. On one side travels are very interesting, on the other they take up a lot of your time. Considering my family has stayed in Ljubljana, this is more a weekly business part and Slovenia is a perfect place for enjoying over the weekends.
In the middle of February Generali has bought Adriatic Slovenica insurance company from the KD Group. What is now total market share on Slovene market of Generali?
Generali comes from the biggest foreign insurance company with a market share around 5 percent, with the acquisition of Adriatic Slovenica it has moved up to the second place on the Slovene insurance market. According to data, the market share will be around 20 percent. With this the position of the insurance company in Slovenia and region will completely change, as we are becoming one of the bigger players in the area of insurance products as well as financial products, mutual funds respectively, as we have together with Adriatic Slovenica also bought a fund management company KD Skladi. This represents one of the bigger opportunities for further development.
Do you expect any other synergies from the merger?
The most important is that we keep the market position and, given the huge customer base, the ability to cross-sell and up-sell and all other options for offering a wider range of products. We are expanding the sales network capacity, we will insure wider geographical coverage, above all we see potential in joint marketing of insurance and financial products.
In what way have you been in the last months communicating the acquisition of Adriatic Slovenica to the interested public and informing them what the acquisition means for them?
Considering that the transaction has officially ended only yesterday (we talked on Valentine’s Day, red.), we can only now start with active communication, because we are now an official owner of Adriatic Slovenica. Communication will now start, we will let our customer know through different internal and external channels that nothing will change for them. Even when the insurance companies are merged, customers will still have all the rights and privileges from then valid insurance terms. However, merger does bring advantages for the customers: wider insurance product portfolio, modernization of products and even improved services. An important advantage for customers will also be access to the global assistance services of the Generali Group.
Experts on branding are convinced that the trademark is the biggest asset of every company. What is the strategy of Generali at preservation of heritage of both trademarks that you have bought? Will Adriatic Slovenica keep its name and image?
We have decided that after legal merger of both insurance companies we will be operating under Generali trademark. Trademark KD Skladi will become Generali Investments. The marketing-communication strategy will follow this business decision, of course with goal to strengthen our position on the market. Generali Group has recently also accepted new triennial business strategy, that positions the insurance company as partner for life for its clients, and also this will importantly direct our marketing activities in the period of the next three years.
What does the acquisition of Adriatic Slovenica mean from the perspective of reorganization of the company? Will you merge the marketing departments in both companies (Generali, AS) or will they preserve their autonomy?
All the departments will merge with intention to connect knowledge and experience of two insurance companies. The merged insurance company will take care of its market presence under the trademark Generali, which means that the marketing department will be merged.
What marketing strategy will you otherwise follow in 2019 and on which message pillars is it based?
2019 and the beginning of the 2020 will be interesting period, because we will intensely communicate the merger of both insurance companies under unified trademark Generali. The trademark Generali will communicate to the customers that we are not only provider of insurance products but also provider of assistance and preventive solutions and insurance of financial products. The central message will be, as said, that we wish to become a life-time partner for our customers. In the future we will put a lot of attention to preserving very high level of customer satisfaction, as this is the criterion at which we place at the top among Slovene insurance companies.
Which technological innovations will you present on the Slovenian market? Will you continue to encourage your customers to have a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the trends in the area of insurance? How will advanced applications and technological solutions contribute to this?
We will encourage them not only in the area of healthy lifestyle, because we have on the whole area of prevention and assistance quite some plans, how we can make even easier business performance and partnership for our clients. We are planning that our clients will be able to access the insurance company 24 hours a day, all days of the week. Beside that we are also planning development of an applications and portals as part of a bigger ecosystem, which will enable customers´ services, assistance and information in one place, which is also a big trend in insurance industry at the moment. We are aware that customers today demand different level of service as they used to. I think that Generali insurance company will be able to even improve its services, which we are already doing now, in a very short time.
Gregor Pilgram is Chief Financial Officer at Generali CEE Holding. From July 2013 he is based in Prague and responsible for consolidation, controlling, actuarial services, banking insurance and reinsurance. He takes care of the financial performance and strategic development of ten countries of holding Generali CEE in Central and East Europe. Before that he was the president of the management board of Generali Slovenia and the president of the supervisory board at Generali Croatia for five years. Otherwise he began his career in 1999 as an expert at the department for controlling in the Slovene Generali. In next years he worked as manager of internal revision and financial manager. In 2008 he became manager of the company, in July 2013 he was appointed for financial manager and became a member of the management board of holding Generali CEE. During his work in Slovenia he was a member of many associations, including the management board of Managers’ Association of Slovenia. In 2010 this association awarded him the prize Young Manager of the Year.
(Source: Marketing Magazin, page 68, 01.03. 2019)