Talanx Jan Wicke will have to adjust his mindset in future. He’s moving from being the Board member for a division to being CFO. Since 2014, Wicke has been responsible for the Talanx Group’s retail business as head of HDI Germany. On 1 September, the 51-year old will replace Immo Querner as CFO.
The move has been well planned and thoroughly prepared internally. For the Supervisory Board, it was important to find an internal successor for its long-term CFO. On the one hand to preserve continuity, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. And on the other to dovetail Finance and the divisions so they cooperate even more closely.
Both objectives led directly to Jan Wicke. He is deeply involved in the Talanx Group’s German operations and responsible for the core HDI brand. He has had great success in putting the division on course in practice with the KuRS programme. Together with his team he has improved the profitability of the life insurance business and won over SMEs to the HDI Group with its property insurance offering. And the goal of generating an operating profit of EUR 240 million in 2021 had almost been reached – before the coronavirus struck. At the same time, as head of IT for Primary Insurance in Germany he drove forward Talanx’s digital transformation and ensured that the monstrous BS 2000 legacy system was smoothly replaced by more powerful and up to date IT solutions.
Living the Talanx Purpose
Wicke took the initiative and seized opportunities, and served as a motivator and guide, instilling the right spirit in his teams and departments and giving them the freedom to drive forward, and successfully reach, their goals together. “Together we take care of the unexpected and foster entrepreneurship” – this sentence expressing the Talanx Group’s Purpose is what Wicke consistently lives by.
“The coronavirus crisis is showing us every day just how important team spirit is. And I am delighted at how we at Talanx are putting this ‘togetherness’ into practice”, he says. “More than ever before, I am convinced that an organization can only be successful if each and every individual can contribute their skills and enrich the team as a whole.”
A weakness for capital market and risk issues
Wicke, who grew up in Cologne, says he has benefited himself from working in strong, creative teams: “I wouldn’t have got where I am today in my career if I hadn’t had so many excellent colleagues.” Originally, the manager wanted to pursue an academic career after doing an economics degree at the University of Bamberg. But then he was able to combine doing a doctorate with working in securities asset management at DZ Bank – and decided at the end of the day against a university career. And for one in the financial sector.
He started off as assistant to the CEO of what was then DBV-Winterthur. Two years later he became head of business management and control. Wicke had landed in corporate development and finance – and at quite a difficult time for financial professionals. It was already clear that the dotcom bubble – in which young technology stocks rode high on investor speculation before collapsing in droves – was going to burst. “During this time I established a risk strategy which only permitted the company to accept those risks that it could absorb on its own in a major crisis”, remembers Wicke. The management board liked his approach. In 2003, just six years after he had joined the insurer, he become a board member at the age of 34.
After that, he delved deeper and deeper into the world of finance. First at DBV-Winterthur, then in 2007 as CFO and Chief Risk Officer at W&W. In other words, the announcement that he is to be Talanx’s CFO means he is going back to his roots. Wicke: “I have a weakness for capital market and risk issues. And I am looking forward to the international range of topics that goes with the job.”
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