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What we need from Next-Gen partners… 
and what they need from us?

Partnerships are part of our DNA. As each partnership is different, we are constantly learning something new. So, what does it take to remain the partner of choice?

What we need from Next-Gen partners… 
and what they need from us?

Today our partnerships are even broader than before. While we continue to invest and remain committed to physical distribution including bancassurance, brokers and agents, we also recognise that increased digitisation keeps us close to the customer and creates long-term growth opportunities. Through our Impact24 strategic plan we are pursuing all routes that lead us to the customer, including ecosystems and digital platforms. The dynamics of these new alliances – the so-called ‘Next-Gen’ partnerships – are somewhat different from traditional partners. That was the impetus for our exploratory research into the needs and expectations of these new partners.

A mirror for our relationship

In an ecosystem strategy, the goal is to engage with the customer through the provision of value-added services and products, that complement our insurance offer. Many of these additional services and products will be provided to our customers by Next-Gen partners. That’s why it is crucial to build strong alliances with partners who provide the needed capabilities to service those customers. 

Next to working with new types of capability partners, we also partner up with ‘Next-Gen’ distribution partners. From Ageas viewpoint, it is fair to say our ideal strategic ‘Next-Gen’ distribution partner enjoys a large digital customer base with engaging digital journeys, where our products can be seamlessly embedded in a meaningful way. These partners are both a co-investor in the business for the long-term but also a co-developer as we experiment together with different solutions over time. Scale and exclusivity matter in an environment where ticket sizes tend to be smaller, so working with one or two exclusive partners is desirable. And there is scope for many other smaller partners too. Some may be more transient in nature, providing both parties opportunities to experiment and test new things shorter term. Others may provide opportunity to reach new customers and parts of society that are difficult to penetrate. 

It is clear that partnerships are a two-way relationship. That means not only understanding what we need from partners but also what partners need from us. Through in-depth interviews with our Next-Gen partners conducted by an external party, we wanted to better understand what it takes for Ageas to become or remain a partner of choice and what the implications could be for our own strategic focus and capability development.

The key to strong partnerships according to Next-Gen players

Our Next-Gen partners indicated the following elements to be important for a productive collaboration:

  1. Strong personal relationships are important. They are the trademark of all partnerships. In any partnership the special ingredient is always the ‘people’ and the trust placed in them.
  2. Availability and proximity increase efficiency. The combination of an entrepreneurial and responsive home team managing the Next-Gen Partnership, backed by the governance of the traditional insurance company works well.
  3. The end-customer is the north-star. Delivering a superior customer experience together is the most important criterion for a success partnership. This aligns with our own strategic objectives to be rated top quartile by customers. 
  4. Reputation matters. The partner brand should have an impeccable reputation.
  5. Agility and speed are particularly important in a digital environment. Next-Gen Partners move quickly, and they expect the same timely response from us.
  6. A customizable and flexible product portfolio is a must… with each Next-Gen partner having their own specifics. 
  7. Data sharing is a prerequisite. Collaboration on data analytics is deemed crucial for this type of partnerships to reach its full potential.

The good news is that overall, Next-Gen partners are very satisfied with Ageas’s partnership model, reflected in an average satisfaction score of 8.5/10.

What next?

We view the research conducted in 2023 as a first measurement, allowing us to evaluate, fine-tune and roll-out a more structural assessment in the coming years. It is fair to say we are still very much on a journey of discovery as we seek to diversify our distribution channels, engaging with new partners. Ultimately, we aspire to become as relevant and credible a partner to the Next-Gen digital channels as we have traditionally been in bancassurance and towards brokers. That means deep understanding of and delivering on what partners need from us.