TBY talks to Nicole Reich de Polignac, CEO of BNP Paribas Cardif in Mexico, on medium-term expectations, the effects of technology on the insurance market, and data analytics.

What are your targets and expectations for the medium term?

Insurance is a building business, particularly in our business model, which is a B2B2C model; therefore, we need to establish partnerships and build a future together with our partners. Since I joined in 2014, we have more than doubled the business size.

How have recent technological innovations transformed the face of insurance in Mexico?

Technology will completely change the way industry works in the world; however, Mexico will not evolve as quickly in that area, even though we want to advance as rapidly as possible. Most of the innovations today are focused on customer service more than on the acquiring part of the business, and we are evolving faster on the service aspect than on the sales aspect. Still, we have developed many tools to help with the sales platform, and there will be a full digital ecosystem for insurance that will help customers as well as partners. We need to serve partners because of the B2B2C nature of our business. In Mexico, this process is evolving slower because the market is still operated by agents and face-to-face oriented. However, changes are coming, and BNP Paribas Cardif, particularly, is developing together with its partners the digital ecosystems that the final clients demand. We are well positioned for this because we have over 6 million insured people and do not have a single agent, which is rare in Mexico.

What is your strategy to create strong partnerships with other businesses that help you sell insurance?

We do not see ourselves as providers, but as partners. Every time we sit down with a partner or a potential one, we try to build win-win relationships. Our goal is to help our partner earn the loyalty of their customers and have the customers satisfied. We design strategies in workshops together with the partner who is involved from the beginning.

What role does data analysis play in the company?

Data analytics is a top priority and we have appointed a Director reporting directly to me in charge of business intelligence and strategic planning. There are three pillars that are important for us: data mining & analytics, predictive models, and emotional segmentation. These are well structured because we use our business intelligence to determine how we can sell more, when and how, and so on. Data mining and predictive models help us to understand the best moment to sell, the best product to sell, and so forth. Emotional segmentation is needed because social demographics aren´t enough to properly target our customer's needs.

How do you price your products?

In insurance business, that is an art; if we do this wrong, we lose a great deal of business. At BNP Paribas Cardif, the prices are set in conjunction with the commercial and the actuarial areas. We do not price just an insurance coverage, we price overall insurance solutions. This is important because most of our products are not just single products, but products with an offer and may include assistance and more benefits. For example, we have an important retail customer that wanted insurance; however, it is a low segment and in order to penetrate the market, we need to convince people. We thus designed a complete offering; we provide not only life insurance but also give them the opportunity to call a doctor if they have a terrible allergy and discounts at the pharmacy. We design offers to fit the needs of customers and make the product more real and tangible. BNP Paribas Cardif in Mexico serves three main groups of customers. There are banks and financial institutions, which have certain needs. We are also a significant player in the auto finance industry in terms of providing insurance for finance captive companies of the automobile insurance. Finally, we serve retailers. Therefore, the price depends on the customer, the industry, the package, and many other things.

How is the market education here in comparison with other countries in Latin America?

We have a tremendous opportunity to grow the insurance business in Mexico. The penetration of insurance versus GDP is 2.1 in Mexico and has remained between 1.9 and 2.1 for the last decade, although it grows around 11% a year. In terms of auto insurance, only 30% of automobiles are insured here, while only 7% of the population has home insurance. There is also a huge opportunity for health insurance. Banking penetration is low in Mexico and insurance is even lower compared to other Latin American countries where insurance vs GDP have bigger figures than Mexico. For example, Chile: 4.7; Argentina: 2.8, Brazil: 3.1: Colombia: 2.7.

Will the recent earthquake have an impact on the market?

It depends; there was a great deal of damage, though it could have been much worse. Thus, the insurance sector will not see a huge impact because most of what failed were houses and the number of insured houses is low. The impact on the insurance sector is not important but unfortunately, the impact was strong on the people and the country to rebuild. I also believe this is an opportunity for the population to generate more consciousness about being protected with an insurance solution.

What is your outlook for 2018?

We have been building towards profitability, because in insurance, the more one grows, the more they invest. I hope we will continue to be a company that is proud of the service it provides for both customers and partners, and continue to have high ratings among our employees. These are extremely important goals for me in order to have a balanced company. Hopefully, 2018 will also be a big year to continue advancing with technological developments. We are in the process of defining all the goals; however, I hope 2018 will be another year of solid growth and consolidation of our businesses with our partners and customers. Another important achievement in 2017 was that, for the first time, our employees were active in helping communities, and in a country like ours, such initiatives are impo