BUSINESS IS A SIMPLE SCIENCE
Irena Komitova, Executive Vice President of Allianz Bulgaria Holding to the BANKER weekly
Ms. Komitova, your appointment as Vice President of one of the top financial companies in Bulgaria was accepted as a suprise by representatives of the branch. Before that you were heading the local office of Oriflame. After a year of training at the US Stanford University you are back in our country. How did the proposal to work for Allianz Bulgaria Holding come to you?
- By chance. In the period following the end of my managerial contract with Oriflame and before leaving for Stanford, I was working for six months as a consultant at Allianz Bulgaria on the Establishment, Development and Training of Agency Network project. I was offered by Dimiter Zhelev to work for the company in January-February and I was considering it for a long time before accepting it in end-May.
My bonds with Allianz Bulgaria go back quite a long way. When the insurance company was set up I bought two shares in it and I believe this is one of my best investments.
How are goods as the cosmetic products of Oriflame and the financial services offered by the subsidiaries of Allianz Bulgaria Holding sold?
- Clients' trust is the most important thing in personal sales. When I provide good services to my customers and they like the products I offer, sales are very easy. Personal sales are still rare in Bulgaria. What is common between cosmetic and financial services is that if you have well-established contacts with your clients, you could practically sell them anything. But it's one thing to sell consumer goods and something very different to offer financial services. The benefit of the latter goods (if we could cll them so) will be apparent after years. You have to be sure you are not going to disappoint your clients throughout all that time and in the end of the period they will become aware of the financial effect. If you lose you customers' trust your busienss will enevitably suffer. The good thing in both busineses is that after you sell a certain cosmetic product and the client is pleased, he will buy much more. The same holds true of financial services, sold by Allianz Bulgaria Holding. If we assume that Autocasco is the most popular insurance, you have closed a contract for such an insurance with us and you are pleased, you will also buy a life insurance from us, pick up the holding's pension insurance company to be you insurer, and choose Bulgaria Invest as you servicing bank. This is the future of the financial sector - to offer the entire range of banking and insurance services.
However, it seems the sale of cosmetics is easier, as people are vain and, therefore, they buy such goods - either cheaper or more expensive. But things are not the same regarding the insurance market. Bulgarians do not have the ncessary culture and save money chiefly on them. How do you intend to overcome that traditional behaviour?
- The greatest challenge for me and for all who work on the Bulgarian insurance market is to educate people concurrently with selling our products. Our clients should be aware of benefits of each service we offer. Most of them realize the necessity of an insurance only after they suffer an accident of some kind. I don't think the development of insurance business in our country should be based on the principle if things were to be done twice, all would be wise. People should very soon grow wiser regarding the necessity of insurance protection.
Which are the priorities in your work? Will the training in the USA help you to realize them?
- What I learnt in Stanford is applicable in Bulgaria as well and can be adapted to our conditions. Business is quite a simple science. Its rules are close to our everyday life. In the process of studying them they seem logical and you feel you already know them. What is special here is that business rules should be followed not chaotically but in a logical sequence. The Executive Committtee of Allianz Bulgaria Holding has set several priorities for the next few years. One of our most important targets is to affirm Allianz Bulgaria Holding as a preferred partner and an indisputable leader on the local market for insurance and finance products. We'll be trying to make our advertising campaigns, messages to clienets, and promotions, more interesting and efficient, as well as more surprising and memorable. The Executive Committee has also set as its purpose the development of new products, answering the needs of our customers, and at prices they could afford.