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“We are a company that works very closely with clients. We were created by industry, for industry, so we tend to build quite a good dialogue with our valued clients.”

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Stefan Feldmann (above) studied insurance business in Cologne, before joining the local office of Allianz as a liability underwriter. He spent two years with the company at its Munich head office, which led to a role establishing Allianz’s liability business in the Asia-Pacific region, based in Singapore from 1997 to 2004. In 2005 he moved to Sydney to establish Allianz Global Corporate Specialty – Pacific, before joining HDI in 2010. “My passion is very much building successful businesses and building strong teams,” he says. “That’s something I’ve been privileged to do twice now in Australia.” He describes HDI as solutionfocused when dealing with clients, family-oriented and non-political, which he attributes to its mutual origins. Mr Feldmann, whose wife is also German, has a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. He says they all love the Australian outdoors and sporting lifestyle, and he particularly enjoys the work-life balance. “It’s a very professional, mature market. It’s very sophisticated but operates in a relaxed environment.”

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There will be a stronger branch network throughout Australia and sales through more brokers, to allow mid-market clients to access the group’s industrial expertise. “Last year we did Melbourne, this year we’re doing Brisbane”, Mr Feldmann says. “The good thing for us is we’re actually quite an entrepreneurial company. The board gives us a lot of entrepreneurial freedom and flexibility and puts a lot of confidence and trust in us. So far, I think a lot of the proposals we’ve made – obviously backed up by strong business growth – they’re quite happy with.” As for its mid-market push, Mr Feldmann says the company tries not to pigeonhole the market in the same way as other insurers. “The good thing with our business model is the whole market is basically open to us. What a lot of insurers do – which I understand brokers never really like much – is they slice and dice the market into large corporate, mid-market and SME. “We don’t need to do that, we have one team, one approach, and we basically provide all of our services to the brokers. We want to make it very easy for brokers to deal with us.” To produce more local business, HDI plans to “build key partnerships with a number of selected brokers in every state”. Local expansion is not the only thing on Mr Feldmann’s plate. Late last year HDI announced plans to insuranceNEWS

February/March 2016

bring its southeast Asian operation, which currently consists of a Singapore office, under his purview. (HDI’s Hong Kong business continues to oversee China, Mongolia and South Korea, while its Japan operations remain separate.) “In most lines we have quite significant capacity in Australia, so basically it allows the [Singapore] office to draw on the technical capability of our office here, and also they will have access to our larger capacity,” Mr Feldmann says. “So our line managers here have technical oversight over the ASEAN office as well.” The Singapore office, which opened in 2012 and employs 20 staff, may be just the tip of the iceberg. Mr Feldmann is clearly excited about the potential in southeast Asia, which has a combined GDP of about $US2.5 trillion and represents about 15% of Australia’s total trade. HDI has a strategic investment in Vietnam with local insurer PVI, and Mr Feldmann flags “quite ambitious plans in the region”, with opportunities in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines all on the agenda. With so much activity, it is clear the secret that has been HDI’s local success is out. And the message from Mr Feldmann is clear: watch this space. “The message is, there’s really more to be seen from us in this part of the world.” *

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