The ace of Allianz

The ace of Allianz

The ace of Allianz Arthur Moossmann’s tale of falling into insurance is similar to that of many of his colleagues. What’s surprising, however, is that before he entered the industry, Moossmann’s working life was more akin to that of Babe Ruth or Ted Williams. “I was a professional baseball player for a few years post-college,” he says. And like both Ruth and Williams, Moossmann’s baseball career began with the Boston Red Sox.

Of course, the big question is why he moved from sports to insurance. “I decided that professional athletes just didn’t make enough money and that big insurance executives did,” he jokes.

On a more serious note, Moossmann says, “After a few years playing professional baseball, it was time to pursue an alternative career.” The father of a teammate worked for an insurance company in New York that had a management candidacy program. Moossmann successfully applied and began the program. “It was purely by happenstance … that I ended up in insurance.”

Helping young people to more deliberately pursue a career in insurance is a task Moossmann describes as near and dear to his heart. He mentions Allianz’s annual associate program, which has been up and running for about 15 years.

“We hire 20 to 25 young men and women – recent university graduates from diverse geographic backgrounds – to go through a rigorous 18-month training program with us,” he says. “The intent is, at the conclusion of the 18 months, that the individual be placed in an area of the company that he or she enjoyed, and where we have a need. Fostering the next generation of insurance executives is something that Allianz and I feel very passionate about.”

Moossmann describes the associate program as “diverse, interesting and challenging,” and says that by the end of the program, each participant has a well-rounded sense of both the insurance business and the company. Additionally, Allianz and the candidates themselves can more clearly see an individual’s suitability for an insurance career.

Consolidation challenges
Reflecting on his own career in insurance, which spans almost four decades, Moossmann cites the recent integration of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company’s commercial property and casualty business into AGCS as a major challenge.

That integration was announced in September 2014 and took effect in January of last year. As part of the plan, Moossmann was elevated to president and CEO of both AGCS and Fireman’s Fund.

“It’s been challenging, rewarding, hard work, but I think everything is going according to, if not ahead of, plan,” he says, citing the integration of the two companies’ cultures, the consolidation of two distribution channels into one and the ability now to take Fireman’s Fund product lines to AGCS clients internationally.

“The entertainment piece of business …was a very distinguished, market-leading segment of the business that Fireman’s Fund cultivated,” Moossmann says. “We’ll be offering certain products that were part of the Fireman’s Fund stable throughout the world within the AGCS footprint.”

While plenty of work has already gone into the integration, Moossmann says there’s still much to be done, but he has been genuinely impressed by the attitude of staff throughout the process. “Change is never easy for a lot of people, particularly [in] a company that had a very well- recognized brand associated with one of the more distinguished industries in the US. There was a lot of emotional attachment to the brand. Changing from the fire hat to the AGCS Allianz brand and also consolidating offices … You always worry about how people will react. But I think, to date, one of the greatest surprises and testimony to the team has been the cultural acceptability of the change. People understood why it was necessary and have, I think, adapted well and have accepted and embraced the fact that they’re part of a bigger, more financially secure company within the Allianz family.”

The new year
Looking at the year ahead, Moossmann outlines the focal points of AGCS’ profitable growth strategy for North America, which includes growing its financial lines business.

“Financial lines has been a very successful line of business for AGCS globally, but we have never really put a lot of emphasis on the financial lines piece in the US because that’s [fallen within] the remit of Fireman’s Fund,” he says. “Now, with the aggregated company, we have built a team, hired some of the top industry executives in the underwriting management and claims field, and we will be aggressively pursuing the financial lines segment of the business.”

Additionally, Moossmann says AGCS in North America will concentrate on engineering lines. “With the economic improvement in the US over the past few years, you can see the reinvestment in infra-structure projects that had gone unattended for many years.”

A focus on liability lines also will be key. “Quite frankly, we haven’t had an appropriate share of that market,” Moossmann says. “We will be concentrating principally on the excess liability fields.”

Moossmann concurs with many of his industry colleagues who predict that cyber risk exposure will continue to present a challenge for the market this year. He also sees international terrorism as another challenge for 2016.

But whatever the year holds, Moossmann looks forward to the organization he leads being there for the benefit of its insureds. “For our customers, having a financially secure insurance company standing behind them, insuring their risks, should give them a degree of comfort in the challenging times ahead that Allianz will be here and capable of standing up to the challenges of the unforeseen in the near future.”