About Jens Warkentin, Member of the Board of Management of Talanx AG from January 2023 with responsibility for the Retail Germany Division
What does he like doing? Improving processes, improving skills, growing talents – and so increasing the Company’s success. “That’s what I’m passionate about”, says Jens Warkentin. The current CFO and designated CEO of the Talanx Group’s Retail Germany Division has proved this repeatedly – he is practically guaranteed to make projects, workflows, teams and people more successful. A natural fit, then, for the role of CEO of HDI Germany and CIO of the Talanx Group’s primary insurance operations.
“I am passionate about finance and human resources, but even more so about excellent customer and sales partner service. We need first-rate workflows for the colleagues working at the coal face in operations, claims processing, payments and sales. These are issues that I will focus closely on as CEO so as to strengthen our fellow workers who interact with our customers and sales partners.
Jens Warkentin has achieved some exceptional things for the Talanx Group in the past four years. As CFO of HDI Germany, he implemented the KuRS optimisation programme together with Dr Jan Wicke, achieving the division’s target operating result of EUR 240 million one year earlier than scheduled. In addition, he was one of the architects behind the division’s realignment in the current Go25 strategy. “The new strategy will help us to achieve our ambitious goals – such as a return on equity of 10 percent by 2025”, said Jens Warkentin. “We want to be the best intermediary-based insurer, the best banking partner, a competitive retail insurer, and a profitable and focussed life insurer.”
Implementing and enhancing the strategy is a sign of continuity and clear ambitions. And improving customer and sales partner service as part of this is one of his tasks.
When Jens Warkentin introduces himself within the Company, he simply says: “This is Jens Warkentin, your CFO”. The message, underscored by the relaxed, engaging way he says it, is “I’m one of you and am there for you and the Company”. “Being there for you” is something he has done for the last four years as CFO of the Talanx Group’s Retail Germany Division. In addition, he was the Board of Management member responsible for Human Resources for the German primary insurance group from 2019 to 2022.
In this capacity, he was also “there for you” when he worked with the Group Crisis Committee to guide the Group in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic extremely successfully and empathetically. Be it working from home 95 percent of the time, the obligation to wear a mask, rules for new work, or providing support and showing flexibility in difficult personal situations – he supported the Crisis Committee when it came to making rapid and sometimes difficult decisions.
Jens Warkentin, who has three sons, established a day-care centre at the Company’s Hannover location. He also quietly reorganised the Human Resources area, which is responsible for more than 8,000 staff in Germany, along customer- and service-centric lines. The area has gone digital, investing in internal training and establishing an active sourcing unit, among other things. This serves as a captive headhunter, proactively contacting potential external candidates. His greatest achievement was simplifying operating structures in Germany so as to speed up decisions on critical issues for the future, such as digitalisation.
How did he manage all this? By truly “being there” and trusting people. He knows how to get everyone involved, to motivate them for the task in hand or convince them of its importance. He keeps the main thing the main thing and finds common denominators. “What’s important to me is that the road map we have developed together is followed,” he says. But after that he leaves individual decisions to his team. “I trust the experts I work with. In many case my colleagues simply know better than I do.”
This is why he is a proactive listener and asks his team for advice and feedback. The runner pursues long-term goals single-mindedly, and has a reputation for being focussed, consistent and realistic. He doesn’t get bogged down in details. He uses interdisciplinary teams to investigate unconventional solutions and expects staff to take personal responsibility.
In Jens Warkentin’s opinion, the best ideas and solutions are simple and easy to understand. Again and again, he tells his team: “Your audience will only listen to for two minutes. So you have to convince them of an idea within that time.”
The 55-year old is also helped by his wealth of experience as CFO of HDI Deutschland AG, Board of Management member for the Talanx Group’s primary insurance operations in Germany, Chief Operating Officer at AXA Germany, Head of Group Development, Head of Sales Process and Quality Management, and head of Sales Management for banking operations. During this time he also gained in-depth insights into common sales systems. And now he’s CEO and CIO. The general business environment has been stood on its head in the last few months as a result of inflation, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and rising interest rates – a situation that induces “a great deal of respect for the task ahead” in Jens Warkentin. But in the coming weeks he will start by talking – and listening closely – to a wide range of colleagues and to business partners. I am looking forward to getting to know a lot of people even better and to creating a sound basis of trust.” And it goes without saying that the way he introduces himself within the Company will hardly change: “This is Jens Warkentin, your CEO.”
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.