Up to 2007, banks and insurance companies were very attractive employers. Today they are still suffering from the aftermath of the financial crisis. Ageas is performing noticeably better.
This year, the banking and insurance sector comes in eighth place on the list of attractive sectors to work in. That is well outside the top four where the sector used to be a fixture until ten years ago. And it is likely to be a long time before banks and insurance companies are really attractive employers again, according to Randstad.
Ageas proves that there are always exceptions to the rule. The insurance group, which arose from the ashes of Fortis, focuses on the Belgian (via AG Insurance), European and Asian insurance markets.
The financial sector's image has definitely taken a knock. "But we have managed to turn the tide", says Bart De Smet. The Ageas CEO has a recipe to do that. "We tell all our employees and the outside world clearly what we stand for. Respect for each other, transparent and honest communication - whether the news is good or bad - and proactivity: that is the basis on which we work. All our employees get the opportunity to have their say, regardless of their department or position. We expect our people to take initiatives themselves, and not wait around for someone to tell them what to do. It is no longer the way it used to be: now the line between the bottom and the top is much shorter."
"We don't expect our people to wait around until they are told what to do" - Bart De Smet, CEO of Ageas
Ageas is working on an action plan to strengthen the company. "Based on our three-yearly strategic plans, we are trying to strengthen the organization, make our image more dynamic and attractive as an employer. We have been able to clear up a lot of the damage from the past, and were able to expand positively, including in Asia. Furthermore, we are financially sound and we have not only been thinking about our shareholders, but also about our employees, our customers and society", says Bart De Smet.
Thanks to that approach, Ageas has little trouble attracting new employees these days, not even for the legal, financial, risk management and other profiles that are hard to find on the labour market.
Ageas is also attracting people from outside the insurance sector. "Even strategic marketeers and data analysts are coming to us. And at AG Insurance, we are even finding it rather easy to recruit Belgians who are interested in an international career: in Portugal, Italy, Asia, etc. We receive a very large number of unsolicited applications."
Ageas surveys employee satisfaction twice a year. According to the latest survey, over 75% are proud to work for the company. And more than eight employees out of ten like working with the people in their team.
An international survey shows that Ageas does have more work to do when it comes to customer relations. "In fact, we are mainly a B2B2C company: our products are distributed to final customers via brokers, agents and bank branches", says Bart De Smet. "Today, we want more interaction with the final customer, in cooperation with our distribution partners. We are doing that via the Ageas Academy. There, we are developing programmes to help our people to focus more closely on the final customer."