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Never underestimate your role in the ESG mission

allianz biba 2022 stand

Well, that was fun. It felt so good to be back in Manchester for the BIBA conference again.

Thank you BIBA for putting on a fantastic conference, three years in the making, and it did not disappoint; connecting with everyone, including brokers, colleagues and journalists face to face again, and seeing the best in the business is special.

I had a busy two days, catching up with brokers and journalists, while showing off Allianz’s sustainable stand, which will now be fully recycled.

I also appeared on a panel on day two talking about sustainability and ESG. Here, we discussed how ESG issues continue to increase in their significance and relevance to brokers.

When looking at the big picture, the role our industry can play should not be underestimated but it will require insurers, brokers and suppliers to take on the shared responsibility of helping customers reduce the long terms risks to their business and their carbon emissions. We start by making sure we learn from the actions our own businesses and can take and use this learning as a means of engaging clients.

ESG more broadly is becoming an increasingly important factor for society and therefore for the way a business works. Lots of companies already have their own ESG criteria that they try to follow, with environmental targets, community initiatives and transparent reporting. But consistency and transparency will become ever more important and soon our own standards won’t be enough. There is work for our industry to do here to help customers differentiate between real progress made and perceptions of greenwashing.

As Catherine Dixon, Allianz’s chief underwriting officer recently said in an interview: “There is no doubt that ESG initiatives have moved from ‘nice to haves’ to crucial business strategies. With reporting imminent, ESG reputation could become as important as product, service and price.”

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I think there are four principles that we, as businesses, should follow:

1. Embed ESG in our decision making as an insurance business (in risk management, underwriting, claims, product development, investments)

2. Work together (insurers, brokers, suppliers, other partners) to learn together and educate

3. Work with government, legislators and regulators to promote action and common standards

4. Demonstrate accountability and transparency (measure and disclose progress)

We at Allianz want to be a leader in the sustainability fight, and that means starting the dialogue and making decisions and driving some initial actions.

We are showing that with our Net Zero Accelerator, where we work with our brokers to give them bespoke advice on how to reduce their carbon emissions, while offsetting their emissions when it is appropriate. The learning from this should begin to build understanding and confidence to engage customers in the discussions about their businesses, and in doing so, add more value. And the good news is that we are opening it up again.

Allianz is also making good progress on the social side with our initiatives such as the Sports Fund, the Mental Health First Aider courses for brokers. Increasingly, we will provide more transparency in our governance and reporting of this aspect of our business.

The engagement on the issue at BIBA was good and dialogue with brokers has started but we are still in the foothills with a big mountain to climb. Come with us on the expedition, we cannot do it without you and I promise the view will be great when we get there!

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