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CO23_FI_ZURICH1 Juan Carlos Realphe

COLOMBIA - Finance

Juan Carlos Realphe

CEO, Zurich Colombia

Bio

Juan Carlos has a degree in Business Administration, and postgraduate certification in Insurance and Strategic Management. With more than 30 years of experience in the Insurance and Reinsurance industry, he started his professional career at Colseguros and later had the opportunity to work in companies such as Allianz, Mapfre and Willis. In 2019, Juan Carlos joined Zurich Colombia as CEO where he has been able to lead different initiatives towards digitalization and innovation.  Prior to joining Zurich,  Juan Carlos served as Country Manager to Lloyd’s Reinsurance.

"Zurich’s strategic plan in Colombia has evolved to focus on growing the individual lines segment, including retail, affinity, and Bancassurance, with the goal of increasing brand awareness."
TBY talks to Juan Carlos Realphe, CEO of Zurich Colombia, about insurance in Colombia, innovation in technology use, and increasing market share in 2023.
How has Zurich Colombia repositioned to focus more on insurance for individuals?

JUAN CARLOS REALPHE: Zurich’s strategic plan in Colombia has evolved to focus on growing the individual lines segment, including retail, affinity, and Bancassurance, with the goal of increasing brand awareness. Zurich has worked hard to position its brand in Colombia over the past three years through sports, specifically motor racing and mobility, while promoting social responsibility. Zurich has also partnered with tennis player Camila Osorio to promote its brand to youth and potential clients. We are also focused on attracting and retaining talent, with 75% of our employees being millennials or Gen Z. The company promotes diversity, inclusion, and mobility, providing opportunities for its employees around the globe. Zurich Colombia is coordinated with Zurich’s worldwide vision of people, wellness, and generating opportunities.

How is Zurich using technology to innovate?

JCR: Zurich has initiated a deep process of changing its operating model and processes, which includes IT and technology. However, its focus is the concept of wellbeing at work, which includes a hybrid model of working and creating a comfortable and satisfied work environment. Zurich’s goal is to treat its employees like family and provide them with opportunities to grow within the company and not just in Colombia. Technology is a complement, though Zurich believes creating a happy workplace is more important.

How do you characterize Zurich commitment to contributing toward a more sustainable future both with regards how the company operates and the products you offer?

JCR: Zurich is dedicated to sustainability and is taking steps to make its office spaces eco-friendlier. The company reduced its travels by 70% in 2022 and plans to continue using virtual meetings to maintain that reduction. It is also transitioning its motor fleet to hybrid or electric vehicles to eliminate gas vehicles. These actions are all part of Zurich’s commitment to addressing climate change. Later in 2023, we will launch a new product that will have a green label on the cargo side. We will be the first insurance company to have a green label product in Colombia in this area. This is extremely different from all our other initiatives because it is focused on training and creating culture of the communities regarding how they can act and respond when a flood happens. Other initiatives focus on investment.

How is Zurich creating an internal, within the company, culture of sustainability?

JCR: Zurich places great importance on sustainability and plans to have a dedicated person and team to focus on this responsibility. Diego has been identified as the right person due to his knowledge and experience. The global head in charge of sustainability initiatives at Zurich has emphasized that every mature country needs to be 100% focused on these projects. Our company has a significant advantage in the insurance industry in Colombia given the high engagement of our young employees in sustainability. Our staff is actively involved in positive actions that impact communities. Our employees are aware of and enthusiastic about our sustainability efforts, with 30 volunteers participating in each action. This is evidenced by their strong belief in the importance of these initiatives, such as building houses for underprivileged families.

What are the priorities when it comes to growing your market share in 2023?

JCR: In 2021, the company achieved its goal of reaching USD100 million in premium income and ranked 15th in the market. With 47% growth, the company ended 2022 with USD147 million and now aims to become a USD250-million company within the next three years. This requires a shift from corporate business to retail affinity and Bancassurance. The company is developing capabilities, products, and skills to grow in the written part and plans to become one of the top five insurance companies in the Colombian market, possibly by 2027. Zurich is undergoing a cultural change and implementing new IT tools to support this growth.

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