Christopher Lohmann, you are stepping down from running the Talanx Group’s Retail Germany Division to pursue new challenges?
Christopher Lohmann: This is something I’ve naturally thought long and hard about. I’ve been concerned for a long time now that I have too little bandwidth in my varied and not always self-determined day-to-day work as a CEO for a large number of issues that are personally extremely important to me. And if I don't do something about this now, I probably never will. That's why I have decided to take my career in a new direction. This is the best possible time for a change and – yes – a new challenge.
What comes to mind when you look back at your time at Talanx?
Christopher Lohmann: I will particularly remember the extraordinary time when I took over the leadership of the division. Although we were completely in the pandemic, it was important for me to meet and listen to the people of HDI at large, to take up their issues, understand them and relay them to the key places, to build networks and to inspire. I am grateful for many inspiring meetings with many committed people. I’m also thankful for the entrepreneurial freedom that I enjoyed as CEO in Germany. We achieved a good deal together: We realigned the division with the Go25 strategy, returned to profitable growth and have grown our market share again. We crisis-proofed our life insurance operations with state-of-the-art products and a number of successful migrations. Together, we have turned HDI Germany into a unit that now works together in a totally different way, thanks to an innovative organisational model and a modified corporate culture. Among other things, we strengthened our operating platform following years of problems and are ending the year on a stable basis. I would like to thank everyone involved in this for their hard work and dedication – and for a great time.
Do you know yet what exactly you are going to be doing?
Christopher Lohmann: In almost 24 years of operational management and as a board of management member I have experienced and learned that change is always with us, and that it has to be managed thoroughly and actively. I have been lucky enough to acquire expertise and experience in three core areas – areas that I have also become passionate about: Enhancing business models by introducing innovative forms of collaboration such as with start-ups, developing resilient organisations and agile collaboration models, and building an inclusive corporate culture based on participation, diversity and psychological security. These are the topics that I would like to devote myself to in more detail, so as to make organisations and people successful. At the same time, although I have clear ideas about the topics I’d like to focus on, I am not at all set on a concrete role. There are a lot of potential avenues open to me and I’m starting discussions now. And my membership of Neodigital’s Supervisory Board is definitely a great way to start.
You will not be leaving us until 31 December 2022 – what have you got planned for the time until then?
Christopher Lohmann: I will do everything I can in the coming weeks to ensure Jens and Thorsten get off to the best possible start. That’s really important to me, both professionally and personally: Jens was one of my closest colleagues and confidants during my time at Talanx, and I enjoyed working with him a great deal. I’m really happy that he is taking over from me and that he will be successfully continuing to shape the journey we started on together.
Jens Warkentin, you will be the new CEO of HDI Germany as from 1 January 2023, and will be the Talanx Board of Management member responsible for the Retail Germany Division.
You will also be taking over from Christopher as CIO. What have you got planned?
Jens Warkentin: I would like to thank the Supervisory Board for their confidence in me and am looking forward to my new role. A very big “thank you” also goes to you, Christopher, for the time we spent working together and – in advance – for the next few weeks. I’m sure they will be intensive. I have been at HDI Germany since 2018 and worked very closely together with Christopher to develop the Go25 strategy. This will help us achieve our ambitious goals, and we shall implement and enhance it. As many of you know, I am passionate about finance and human resources, but even more so about excellent customer and sales partner service. As we continue on our journey towards being a competitive retail insurer, the best intermediary-based insurer, an extremely successful partner for banks, and towards growing the SME business, we need first-rate workflows for the colleagues at the coal face of all areas of property insurance – in operations, claims processing, payments and sales. This is what I will focus on as CEO, so as to create the conditions needed by the colleagues who serve our customers and sales partners.
You are taking over at a difficult time that brings many challenges. How are you approaching this?
Jens Warkentin: With a great deal of respect. COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine have changed the world. When we developed our Go25 strategy the inflation rate was insignificant; instead, we were in a low interest rate environment. Since then, macroeconomic conditions have changed at a pace and to an extent unknown in business history. As a result, we are having to deal with high levels of inflation and volatile financial markets. I am convinced that we shall succeed in this. At the same time, this also offers opportunities: Rising interest rates could lead to a renaissance in life insurance. And our focus in this area on investment-style products could open up potential new options.
What will you be doing in the coming weeks?
Jens Warkentin: I will ensure an orderly handover to my successor as CFO, Dr Thorsten Pauls and will talk to a wide range of colleagues and business partners. And I will listen closely to what they are saying. I am looking forward to getting to know a lot of people even better and will make the case for tackling the challenges facing us with courage, optimism and enthusiasm. Simply working harder will only get us so far. So I will be tackling new issues, or existing ones in new ways, with a smile on my face.
This news release contains forward-looking statements which are based on certain assumptions, expectations and opinions of the Talanx AG management. These statements are, therefore, subject to certain known or unknown risks and uncertainties. A variety of factors, many of which are beyond Talanx AG’s control, affect Talanx AG’s business activities, business strategy, results, performance and achievements. Should one or more of these factors or risks or uncertainties materialise, actual results, performance or achievements of Talanx AG may vary materially from those expressed or implied in the relevant forward-looking statement. Talanx AG does not guarantee that the assumptions underlying such forward-looking statements are free from errors nor does Talanx AG accept any responsibility for the actual occurrence of the forecasted developments. Talanx AG neither intends, nor assumes any obligation, to update or revise these forward-looking statements in light of developments which differ from those anticipated.