THE DIRECT APPROACH

Ecuador 2013 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juan Carlos Verdú, Director of Hispana de Seguros, on the company's aggressive growth targets and the need for a diverse client base.

How has Hispana de Seguros built up its local business operations?

Our business strategy is based on strong, client-oriented products with suitable marketing, giving us a necessary advantage in the Ecuadorean insurance sector. This sector is very competitive; today there are over 40 active companies in the country. Despite the intense competition, Hispana de Seguros, a company that was started from scratch, has achieved a high level of success in the Ecuadorean market. Thanks to our aggressive strategy, we have positioned the brand and our products in the market and we are now among the leading insurance companies in niche markets such as Guayaquil within the automotive insurance segment. We have also expanded our branch network and, at the moment, we have a presence in the main cities of the country, including Quito, Guayaquil, Loja, Machala, Santo Domingo, and Cuenca. Hispana de Seguros has always prioritized the provision of value-added products and services to its clients at the national level.

What are the competitive advantages of Hispana de Seguros?

The cost-benefit ratio we offer to our clients is one of our main advantages as a company. This element has facilitated the implementation of our business strategy and allowed the company to achieve its goals. The wide range of products, coverage, and value we offer to our clients has enabled us to quickly achieve double-digit, sustainable growth over recent years.

“The economic and social expansion of the Ecuadorean middle class has positively impacted the development of the sector."

What are your expectations for 2013?

We expect 2013 to be very important for us in terms of direct sales to customers; we have put a great emphasis on expanding our client portfolio through the expansion of our sales staff and the implementation of other strategies such as call centers. This strategy has enabled us to better address the needs of the market and facilitate direct communication with clients. Overall, we expect the sector to continue growing, given that the purchasing power of Ecuadoreans is increasing and penetration rates of insurance products in many segments are continuously growing. We expect to close the year with a 12% growth rate—an aggressive figure, but consistent with our background.

How has the company's service portfolio evolved in the last few years?

Hispana de Seguros has a wide product portfolio that includes, property, vehicles, and life insurance products with universal coverage for individual customers. We also offer technical and corporate products, focused on coverage for property, transportation, and all risks involving business management, as well as other traditional products such as automotive insurance. In this regard, our premium insurance for vehicles is among the company's top products. Over the years we have managed to create a very diverse client portfolio that includes individuals, private companies, and public entities.

What is the percentage between individual and corporate customers in your client portfolio?

Our current client portfolio has over 15,300 clients, of which 13,300, or around 87%, are individuals. It also includes 1,500 private companies, or 10% of the entire portfolio, while 3%, or 500 companies, are public entities. This gives us a tremendous diversification in terms of client base and business production, reducing our dependence on any client or entity. It also mitigates risks due to the diverse location, activity, and business of our clients.

How has Hispana de Seguros' financial performance evolved in recent years?

We have always employed a conservative approach to our investment strategy and our top priority has been the financial sustainability of the business in the long term. This model has allowed the company to achieve sustainable growth at a fast pace. Our growth strategy is emphasized by our direct client approach, which gives us a better understanding of the activities of our clients and the risks involved.

How would you assess the state of development of the insurance sector in Ecuador?

The economic and social expansion of the Ecuadorean middle class has positively impacted the development of the sector in the country. The penetration of the insurance sector has grown along with this middle class and, as a result, it has generated many opportunities for all players in the market. In this regard, our strategy is focused on generating the greatest value-added services to this population segment. The Ecuadorean insurance sector is very competitive and consumers also look for competitive prices. The company's niche has always been to offer competitive price and value-added products, and we can proudly say that we have achieved significant growth in this market. Looking forward, I think the Ecuadorean insurance sector holds a very attractive and promising future ahead and there are opportunities to grow in all the segments of the industry, provided that companies have a very well structured strategy.

What are some of your main goals for the company?

We want to continue being consistent in our business approach, for we believe that efficiency has to be among our top priorities. In this context, it is important to keep informing consumers about our activity and services. For 2013, we plan to expand our presence in the banking insurance segment, while continuing to be a very innovative company in terms of products as well as adding value to our services. For example, Hispana de Seguros is continuously complementing its offering in the automotive segment, as we believe this is the way to expand our presence in this market segment. At the moment, we do not have plans to expand our branch network, given that we can more than adequately cover the Ecuadorean market with our current offices.

© The Business Year - July 2013