At the seminar in Sandanski, you told the teams of I&G BROKERS from all over the country that the insurance market in our country is developing dynamically. How can we explain this - the legislative changes you talked about or the increased discipline of companies and citizens?
- No. Rather, the growth of our domestic product. Currently, Bulgaria is fifth in the European Union in terms of GDP growth - 3.9%. Consumption is increasing, respectively - and the consumption of insurance products. The business climate is good, the economy is growing rapidly. It is natural for insurance, as part of GDP, to follow this trend.
You said that the company you run has 10% growth…
- Yes. If we follow the market trend, I&G BROKERS, there should be about 4% growth in the portfolio. But we have 10%, which means we are doing better. In other words - we are displacing competitors.
Is the market "fierce"?
- Terrible. We have about 400 licensed brokers, 30,000 agents, 56 insurance companies, each of them - with about 120 local offices. They are in direct competition even with their brokers and agents. So the market is, to put it mildly, "fierce", extremely competitive, with a lot of marketing methods, such as return commissions. If you allow me to joke - anointed!
How to explain the success of your company - corporate culture, recruitment? Is the slogan you announced at the seminar in your presentation - Going International, an intention to enter new markets outside the country, as a development of this success?
- No. I&G BROKERS is part of an international insurance and reinsurance broker, a member of the ASIGEST HOLDING group, Italy, Milan. The success of the company is primarily due to the staff - our most valuable asset. Most colleagues invest in advertising, in points of sale, and we - in staff. We have almost no turnover, which is currently a ubiquitous problem for all companies, as unemployment is negative. In practice, there is only occupational unemployment in our country. This leads to higher labor costs and high turnover. The companies fail to retain their staff, they use an extremely large resource in recruiting professionals. You also know that specialized agencies also charge a fee for recruiting staff.
HR and Head Hunters?
- Yes. HR recruits employees, Head Hunters - for managerial positions. Wages are rising. This leads to a big problem with recruitment.
If we compare the levels of salaries with the IT sector, famous in our country with high salaries, where will the insurance sector be?
- 70-80% of the salary in the IT sector. But with them, you know, we're talking mostly about outsourcing. Keep in mind that in 3-4 years Bulgaria will end up as an outsourcing destination.
And what will we do then?
- We will have expensive telephone operators and programmers who will not be able to find a job suitable for the standard to which they are accustomed.
How much is the insurance services market in our country valued and what share does I&G BROKERS hold?
- Two billion levs. We have a share of 6.9% in the brokerage business
Are you satisfied with the two-day seminar you held in Sandanski?
- Sandanski is very nice, my favorite city. I love coming here. The seminar was impeccably organized. Our manager in Sandanski - Toshko Demerdzhiev, is a unique person, he is doing perfectly.
Are your autumn seminars traditional?
- Yes. Mandatory. We have already been to Sandanski once and it will come again. Certainly in the program of our seminars there is a charitable cause for disadvantaged children. As you can see, last night we raised BGN 2,100 for the children from the Sveta Nedelya Day Center, we donated another BGN 500 to the Sveti Vrach Hospital.
The business territories around the world of the ASIGEST HOLDING group are…
- Our holding owns seven brokers. I am responsible for the Balkans - Turkey, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. Alessandro Griffith, my partner from Italy, is responsible for his country, Germany and Morocco. Curiously, Alessandro is an Irish count.
You reminded me a little bit of Wall Street's Gordon Gecko. Michael Douglas's character used to say "More!", Understand - never be satisfied with what you have achieved. You similarly motivated the teams of I&G BROKERS - not to calm down with what they have on the "field". Is the sky the limit?
- This is a basic principle in business. When a company is running, it should be "pressed" the most so as not to stop the positive momentum. If the company starts to decline as a business, then it needs an exceptional capacity of accounting, financial knowledge, skills for its restructuring to return to normal growth.
Interview with Atanas Atanasov, Sandanski1.com