CARLOS SANCHEZ

Colombia 2021 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Carlos Sanchez, President of BMI Seguros, about the state of the insurance sector, reorganizing operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of Colombia to the firm's wider operations.

How do you assess the Colombian insurance sector at the moment?

As most would expect, the pandemic has impacted the sector, as it has most other industries. In 1Q2020/2Q2020, we had mild growth, while the rest of the year was fairly consistent. This consistency in our industry is due to clients knowing the importance of having health and life insurance policies in force, as well as their long-term savings and overall financial plans. Therefore, due to the pandemic, we were much more top of mind as an industry, which translates into more visibility to consumers. With regards to continued overall growth in Life and Health, we feel that to successfully achieve it, you must always continue to innovate and constantly look for better ways of ensuring continuity, which directly aids in the future of all of our employees and clients alike.

What have been the main lessons from this year?

To initiate the conversation, to be ready and able to adapt, to remain resilient, and the value of responsiveness to an organization... all of which will be incorporated into our 2021 leadership and management strategies. We feel these lessons are necessary to ensure the continued growth of our company, along with keeping a consistent dialog with our clients.

A lot of companies globally had to reorganize their internal management in order to flexible and operational. How did BMI approach this, in what ways has your internal management been reorganized?

We currently still have all our staff working from home, each equipped with their tech needs to assure they can conduct their business as efficiently as always, in order to continue to provide the best service to all of our clients, advisors, and suppliers. Working from home has proved to be a great solution to the problem. It helps assure we maintain our top notch quality service, while still protecting the health and safety of our employees. We have also put a lot of focus on technology in 2020, with virtual communication being our main source of communication; we have had this constant virtual contact with our coworkers, but also with more than 600 advisors to assure proper training and support to their teams. We also installed a “work flow" tool that aids in the efficiency of the company, at an operational level. This helps us review our processes and promote the most efficient solution to a problem in any given process, aiding us to achieve our promise of high quality customer service.

In what ways are you now providing your services and access to your resources online?

We were able to digitize the care processes for our health and life insurance patients through the implementation of various technologies. We also digitized our communication with our sales force, while still maintaining remote advisory and training processes. We have also been able to move to virtual medical evaluations, which helps eliminate unnecessary outings for our clients. This new service is also available for our health policyholders and their families with access to home or telemedicine services.

What are your plans for expanding across Colombia?

Currently we have more than 600 external business advisors distributed in 15 cities within the country, our expansion plan focuses on continuing to strengthen our business force through the process of training and linking advisors.

What are your strategies for increasing access and penetration to insurance?

We want to help protect more individuals and their families in Colombia, by continuing to grow and penetrate the market with our insurance solutions and innovative products. Colombia is a market with robust growth opportunities within the health and life insurance sector, which is why BMI has implemented a communication and brand awareness strategy that allows permanently promoted digital advice through its commercial advisors seeking to continue with the active purchase of insurance.

BMI offers all of the classic policies covering health, life and other medical insurance, for example. Having carried out some research there seems to the development of 'insurtech,' in order to provide insurance for a growing digital world. What is your take on these new trends in your sector?

We are in a digital boom that implies that insurance companies must be at the forefront of digital, so we have initiated and accelerated digitization processes due to the pandemic, in which all companies and the country in general, have had to adapt to a digital age within the new normal. In the case of insurtech, these can be a technological ally when it comes to taking the business to the next level, as they allow the possibility of using analytical tools that allow customers to better understand and achieve the development of products and marketing strategies adapted to the needs of customers which will allow the application of coverage.

Do you expect these new types of insurance to be as strong as the classic products?

These types of products are profiled for an 100% digital segment such as millennials, they will be strong products according to the niche to which they are aimed. However, classic products will continue to maintain their stability, but will be immersed and fused with digital improvements that will allow them to continue to exist and improve the efficiency of their processes, guaranteeing access to the service.

How important is Colombia to BMI's global portfolio?

Colombia's importance within the region's local market is high since the country is the fourth largest economy in the region, its insurance consumption is well below comparable countries such as Chile. It is our conviction that Colombia is a market to be developed in the insurance industry and especially in life insurance market, therefore proving just how important it is to BMI's global portfolio.

What message would you like to send the international community about investing in the Colombian Insurance market?

Investing in Colombia represents a great business opportunity and international expansion, Colombia is one of the main economies of Latin America, where the insurance industry barely reaches 2.8% of the country's GDP, almost less than half of what other similar countries in the region contribute, which represents an opportunity to be part of the development of the market and make more people have the opportunity to ensure.