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HomeBUSINESSinflationary context will be a great challenge

inflationary context will be a great challenge

The Ageas Group, one of the main players in the Portuguese insurance market, recently opened its new facilities in Porto. The building, called ICon Douro, is not only a magnificent work of architecture. It is also the anchor for the new challenges that lie ahead.

In interview with the Economist, Steven Braekeveldt, CEO Group Ageas Portugal, reveals the Ageas Group’s growth plans for Portugal, the need to continue to deepen relations with customers and how the current international context, strongly marked by inflationary pressure, can impact the business.

Ageas Group: “We want to grow above the market”

Ekonomist: How many people can work simultaneously in the new Ageas Group building in Porto?

Steven Braekeveldt: Our new building in Porto, ICON Douro, is at 80% of its maximum capacity (300 people), as the Ageas Portugal Group is currently in a hybrid regime.

EK: In terms of commercial activity, services to the public will be made available in this new building or will it have the exclusive function of back office?

SB: The ICON Douro Building offers dynamic and multifunctional spaces that were designed and furnished to meet all the necessary conditions and thus provide a unique, impactful and personalized experience.

With a total of 7,600 m2 spread over four floors, the building also has a cafeteria, restaurant and terrace with a lake, with access available to all Employees and visitors.

Like the headquarters in Lisbon, this one also has a brand roomone business academy and a multi-brand store – the latter is a space dedicated to helping the various customers, and potential customers, through a unique, integrated experience focused on the quality of the service provided.

Opening hours between 9 am and 5 pm, the multi-brand store will serve the various business units (Non-Life, Life and Health) and all commercial brands (Ageas Seguros, Ageas Pensões, Ocidental, Médis and Seguro Directo).

This space is divided into two different service areas, oriented towards the services to be provided and covering the diverse needs of our Customers.

The new Ageas Group building in the city of Porto, named ICON Douro

EK: With the two investments that the Ageas Group made in Lisbon and Porto, what are the prospects for business growth in Portugal for 2023?

SB: As a Group, we intend to continue to grow above the market and strengthen our share in the business lines that we consider to be strategic. We know that the inflationary context will have a major impact on the increase in claims costs and will be an additional challenge that will affect the sector.

EK: What new investments are in the sights of the Ageas Group in Portugal for the near future?

SB: We are constantly looking for new opportunities, whether through acquisitions or partnerships, always being attentive to the market. As a Group, we intend to grow at all levels and we do not want to limit investments to the insurance area alone.

We are equally focused on any other area that is relevant or complementary to our business that is in line with the current strategy.

EK: What market share does the Ageas Group aim to achieve in Portugal?

SB: The Ageas Portugal Group currently holds a leading position in the Life segment and in Pension Fund Management and has, year after year, strengthened the Non-Life sector, with the prospect that this trajectory of organic growth will continue in the future. .

EK: In terms of social responsibility, what is the current position of the Ageas Group?

SB: The Ageas Portugal Group’s Social Responsibility strategy is vast, but it follows an action plan. Within the Group’s universe there is a corporate foundation (Ageas Foundation) with a history of around 25 years, to which Ageas channels financial and non-financial resources and whose intervention has an exclusive focus on social impact, through volunteering programs, training of people and entities, donations and investments with a view to scaling innovative projects.

Focusing on the social themes of Health, Aging of the population and Social Exclusion, we always seek to network with other social economy entities and start-ups of impact.

We are constantly looking for new opportunities, whether through acquisitions or partnerships, always being attentive to the market. As a Group, we aim to grow at all levels.

In recent years, the Foundation has also positioned itself as an entity that works on innovative social projects with the aim of integrating them into the value chain of the Group and other companies.

The presence of SAOM in the Porto building and CRESCER, Café Joyeux and Semear in the Lisbon building are just a few examples of this approach.

Finally, it is important to mention that its role as patron of culture is a structuring part of the Ageas Portugal Group’s social responsibility strategy, through support for the Porto Ageas Coliseum, D. Maria II National Theater, Casa da Música and the International Music Festival of Marvão.

EK: Is the uncertainty of the international scenario, in the opinion of the Ageas Group, a concern or an opportunity for the sector?

SB: Globally, the trend is for us to look more and more at ecosystems and less from a product perspective: the world is changing, the uncertainty brought about by war and, subsequently, the increase in the cost of living is changing the priorities of people and companies.

Bearing in mind the current uncertain situation, we must have technology as an ally to allow us to be more accessible and agile, without neglecting the importance of humanization at any time of contact with customers.

Despite the sector being in constant change, adaptation and flexibility, we will have to aim to remain focused on maintaining the levels of service, satisfaction and loyalty of our customers, in the certainty that the trend will be continuous innovation and rapid adaptation. the necessities.

Even with this international scenario, we will continue to invest in the innovation of our products, whether through new services or the creation of new solutions to meet the needs of the Portuguese.

We believe that, for example, there is a greater opportunity in products where there is a lower penetration in the Portuguese population, such as life insurance, multi-risk housing and even health, which has shown enormous dynamism in recent years. Not to mention other more specific needs arising from consumer trends, such as cyber risk and insurance on demand.

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