10% GROWTH IN 2018

Colombia 2019 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juliana Tobón Peña, Former President of MetLife, on competition in the sector, human capital, and digital technology.

2018 was extraordinary for the industry and MetLife. You are the third biggest insurance company in the individual segment and the sixth among all the insurers. How do you describe your goals for the next five years?

In 2018, the market has grown by 10% in the individual segment. Group segment and personal accidents have grown above the market line as well. In total, the insurance market has grown by 5%, but MetLife has grown by 10%, allowing us to gain market share in the last four years. Moving forward, we hope to continue growing our market share above our immediate competitors at least in the individual segment. Of the three segments that we manage (individual life, group life, and accidents), individual life is our focus, and today it represents 60% of the company's portfolio. In five years, we want to be leaders in that line, and to achieve this, we have to innovate and create new products and technology. Moreover, the company has to offer greater coverage through digital media and strengthen our distribution channels.

The insurance market in Colombia is increasingly competitive, and many international players are entering it. What separates MetLife from both its new and existing competitors?

Our competitive advantage is our business model in the individual life segment. This model is unique and consists of a group of about 700 protection consultants distributed across Colombia's seven major cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Pereira, and Manizales. These consultants identify potential clients and help them structure a risk map about their life, family, and personal circumstances to offer a suitable product for those specific needs. This personalized consulting model makes us different and unique in the market. We have extraordinary competitors, but this model is a sales force specializing in the life segment and is managed through MetLife employees who are part of our 1,000-strong workforce.

How does MetLife attract and maintain better human capital?

We have different search sources to attract required talent. We have migrated our selection and recruitment processes to social networks because we understand that it is one of the most popular forms of job search. We make agreements with recruiting companies and universities according to the different age profiles we have. We want to agree with a university so that students of last semester with a suitable profile can be part of a project in MetLife as their first work experience. The reduction of turnover is fundamental because the company invests a lot of time and money in attracting, training, and certification based on financial superintendence standards. If we lose this staff, we need to start the process again. To the extent that we retain our consultants, our sales force grows.

What is the role of Colombia in the regional and global agenda of MetLife?

Latin America represents 15% of MetLife's global business. Brazil and Colombia have enormous potential for the company. In Colombia's case, the operations are still small, but there is great potential in a country of almost 50 million inhabitants and a low penetration of the insurance market. There is also enormous potential to grow in the group life segment. This is the area where national and multinational companies offer life insurance within the compensation package to their employees as part of the benefits program. If the economy has high growth expectations, low unemployment rates, and a middle class that flourishes and enters into formality, the number of jobs increases and so does the potential of the group life segment or employee benefits. Moving forward, we want to grow in the individual life, employee benefits, and mass business segments. The latter is managed through the companies of public services, retail companies, supermarkets, and banks. The compensation funds are also important clients for us. In that universe, we can make a more aggressive insurance penetration regarding volume because there are more small life policies for more people. The penetration rate has been gradually growing in Colombia, and it is now 2.8% as compared to Latin American average of 3.1%; our best example in the region is Chile with 5%. In the most advanced economics in the world, it reaches 7%. However, Colombia has had gradual growth in its economy that has allowed these trends. All the actors in the insurance sector have made a great contribution in uplifting the sector.

What can we expect from MetLife in 2019 and beyond?

We are working hard to be digital, and we make important investments in technological tools. We want potential and current customers to have more access to our information through these channels, and our consultants to have digital tools. To that end, we will launch the platform for consultants to quote and subscribe digitally in 2019. We are also working to strengthen our product portfolio by improving it; we want it to be more competitive. We make market research to launch a new product that will allow us to adapt the insured value and the coverage to various segments of the population. As a result, we will be able to serve a much larger segment like the middle class.