Joseph Gross, CEO of Allianz Life Insurance Malaysia Berhad shares his aspirations for 2018
By Satoko Omata
BT: New year is about new goals and resolutions. Perhaps you could share with us your new year’s resolution?
Gross: The experience that shaped my life last year was my health check-up. I do sports 3-5 times a week. I think I’m a reasonably fit person at 53 years old. However, my doctor noted that I’ve got to be careful of my cholesterol and sugar levels. Although it’s not in any danger zone, if I didn’t take care of it, my doctor warned I might develop type 2 diabetes.
That was the alarm bells going in my mind; I never thought that something so small like blood sugar could mean I get into a diabetic condition. Therefore, my resolution is to change my style of eating and drinking, to improve or stabilise the metrics on cholesterol and blood sugar. For me, that is a radical resolution. I love to eat and I’ve never changed my dietary system, ever.
My philosophy has always been: eat and drink as much as you want and do sports to compensate. That has been shattered a bit. I’ve already started to control and get into a more healthy eating regime.
BT: Health is a concern for majority of Malaysians. With as much as 45% of Malaysians uninsured, would you suggest insurance as a resolution for your customers?
Gross: The honest fact is that insurance is not at the top of the mind for most people. If the Malaysian population would think, “I want to take better care of myself and the ones that I love”; that is a good motivational resolution.
They would reflect on the inherent risk in society – health risk, economic risk, commercial risk – and what it means to themselves and their families. We are helping people to want to change their lives and supporting them to fulfil this resolution. I think this is a very powerful concept and is certainly something that has value; you not only give the customers motivation, you also support them to achieve his or her goals.
Gross: You could. Although, I would never give anyone a present and say here is your education insurance. You could buy them a savings plan, for instance in an angpow packet with a note saying “here’s RM10,000, you can get it when you’re 18”. From parents to children, I think that can work.
Young people won’t care how, but behind that is an insurance plan. If customers want to do it, fine; but otherwise it becomes a gimmick and I don’t think of insurance as something trivial. I truly believe insurance adds value to customers.
BT: What is Allianz’s resolution to your customers and what do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Gross: To provide customer solutions that surprise them; that they’ll think ‘I wouldn’t have expected that from an insurance company’. The insurance industry is often perceived to be non-transparent, inconvenient, complex, bureaucratic. Those are typically industries that are ripe for disruption, and the only way to protect from disruption is to disrupt yourself.
Continuing to sell insurance the way it used to be sold, is a recipe for disaster. Surprising customers in every element, be it service, online marketing, online presence, simplicity of products; that would be wonderful if we could achieve that. Get the ‘wow’ factor behind insurance.
This story was featured in the Business Today magazine (January 2018 issue)