In 2022 Ageas Portugal Group delivered another strong operational performance, growing more quickly than the market and more profitably, despite the extremely challenging environment. In the first quarter of the year Portugal remained in strict lockdown mode with all the challenges this represents. At the same time, as with other markets around the world, the economy came under severe pressure with inflation and higher interest rates having a significant impact on customers. To understand the severity of this impact on Portugal requires an appreciation for the societal structure and specifics of the Portuguese market. In a market where floating rate mortgages are the norm and the savings rate is amongst the lowest in Europe, the financial stress on many people in 2022 has been exceptionally severe and this will continue in 2023.
The challenge in 2022 has been to adapt quickly and sympathetically, and in a way that provides relief to customers when they need it most, living up to the Group’s promise to be a Supporter of the lives of its customers.
Adapting products to help customers through tough times
Among other things, Ageas Portugal Group developed and launched products like Medis Light and Dental Light as a response to this challenging environment. These products are essentially ‘scaled down’ versions of the full product, with reduced benefits but also lower premiums. This offers an opportunity for those customers most severely impacted by the current economic crisis to retain a level of insurance at adjusted terms. At the same time, these products have also attracted a number of new customers to Ageas who view these packages as attractive and affordable.
It is in these kinds of challenging times that the importance of remaining focused on the customer is critical. Over the past two years this has driven continuing efforts to redesign and reorient the organisation away from silos towards one that is truly customer-centric, a programme which began last year in anticipation of the launch of Impact24. To deliver on the Group’s Impact24 plan meant firstly adapting the plan to the local environment, but also designing the ideal organisation to deliver on the ambition. In the past year around 60% of employees in Portugal have assumed new jobs or new job content. We are increasingly using and leveraging data to improve the customer experience, analysing the customer journey at every touch point to identify potential areas of improvement, and the pain points in the current journey. At the same time, Ageas Portugal Group is humanising the whole experience, starting from inside out, with the end goal to really make the difference in each touch point with customers. Doing things differently and in a more personal way. That starts with our employees and developing the right culture and environment for them to thrive. Happy employees translate to satisfied customers and improved NPS scores confirms good progress.
Participating in new ecosystems
In 2022 in line with Impact24, Ageas Portugal Group explored ways to develop relationships through ecosystems beyond health insurance, promoting a pet ecosystem and a soon to be launched housing ecosystem. In the critical area of health, and in line with Impact24, Médis, with more than 20 years’ experience in the health sector, is leading the way in helping the Group to internationalise the health ecosystem by sharing experience with other operating companies across the Group through a dedicated team based in Portugal.
Sustainability at the heart of everything we do
Sustainability remains at the forefront of everything underway in Portugal and there has been a growing awareness of sustainability amongst employees in the past year. A high level external advisory sustainability board has been established, which is made up of ambassadors at the forefront of sustainability from across the spectrum of academia and the economy, to share learnings, challenge thinking, and to help drive new initiatives. Within the Ageas Foundation, half of the foundation’s funding will in future move to social impact investments. And in thinking about sustainability in its broadest sense, the move to new award-winning buildings in Lisbon and Porto put sustainability high on the list of considerations. This included both the physical environment and broader aspects of sustainability such as diversity and inclusion.
In a dynamic and fully sustainable building in Lisbon and in Porto, employees are encouraged to think of the office environment as a home, where integration and inclusiveness is also considered. Ageas is a pioneer in social inclusion in Portugal. In Lisbon, Café JOYEUX employs and trains young adults with intellectual and development difficulties, including Down Syndrome, promoting intellectual difference as a natural part of our lives and cities. Through Crescer, a project with a strong social impact, people in vulnerable situations are integrated into the environment, giving them the tools for their inclusion in the labour market. In Porto, SAOM – a reference in social inclusion in the food sector – is part of the daily life of employees.
Ageas in Portugal is increasingly becoming known for all the right reasons. Employees are making things happen and maintaining high employee satisfaction rating will continue to be a top priority. Already top quartile in 2020, the ratings have grown exponentially in the past years.
And finally, while still a very new and young brand in Portugal, Ageas has already established itself as a highly respected brand. In 2022, Ageas was named among the top 100 top reputation companies in Portugal, a remarkable achievement, and a source of immense pride. In a widespread cross sector study, the specific areas highlighted were the Group’s reputation in relation to strategy, management, social impact, innovation, ethics and governance.