WirtschaftsWoche Exclusive

Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte Answers His Critics

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Allianz is going through one of the largest transitions in its 125-year history. It will need employees on board to be successful.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Oliver Bäte has been CEO of Allianz since May 2015.
    • Employees at the company complain Mr. Bäte has been slow to listen to the advice of lower-level managers.
    • Allianz is undergoing a major overhaul to boost profitability and prepare it for new competition from digital rivals.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
ALLIANZ SE Hauptversammlung 2016
Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte sees digitization as one of the firm's biggest challenges. Source: Picture Alliance

Allianz Chief Executive Oliver Bäte has been praised by investors for aggressively remaking Germany’s largest insurance firm. However, insiders complain he doesn’t listen to lower-level managers that know the company best.

That may be about to change, at least according to the CEO himself. After all, admitting your mistakes is the first step to correcting them.

“In the future, I will focus more on paying attention to middle management,”said Mr. Bäte in an exclusive interview with the business weekly WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication of Handelsblatt.

Keeping the employees on board is critical for the insurance giant. Like many firms, Allianz is in need of a digital overhaul, which could pose the largest challenge in its 125-year history. Rivals from the technology world, known colloquially as “Insurtechs,” are threatening to steal away business.

Critics argue that while Mr. Bäte has often paid lip service to digitization and taken some steps to facilitate the process during his two years as CEO, he does not appear to have strategic direction. Investors who reacted positively to Mr. Bäte during his first year in charge have now soured somewhat on the company’s performance over the last six months.

While Mr. Bäte rejected the suggestion that he doesn’t have clear plan, he admitted in the interview that not everything is telegraphed within the firm. He argued that regional divisions should show initiative and set their own goals rather than have them handed down from central management.

 

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