Spending time with this entrepreneurial spirit, it’s clear to see why he’s been voted the most influential person in marine insurance three times in the past five years. In an exclusive interview following his recent appointment to the Concirrus Board, Dieter Berg gives us a snapshot of life outside of work and offers some sound advice to marine insurance businesses that are feeling the strain.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: This is definitely my daughter. She has got a great personality, is very focused and ambitious and fiercely independent – particularly when I offer her my advice. She’s just finished her Masters degree in Behavioural Economics and is now starting her career with a start-up technology company in the UK and I’m looking forward to watching her grow.
Q: Who have been your role models/mentors?
A: In the earlier days, I had a Manager, Stefan Lippe who later became CEO of Swiss Re. I’ve worked closely with him for several years and always found him incredibly dynamic and focused with a strong personality. He was certainly someone I could learn a lot from.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you have learned?
A: Do good things and make sure you talk about them. It’s easy to focus on the bad or negative things but celebrate successes and allow other people to share their achievements with you.
Q: What’s the one thing people might be surprised to know about you?
A: Only a few people know that my Triumph motorcycle is my passion and when I’m not in the office, I’m riding in the mountains near my home in Munich.
Q: If you were sent to live on a desert island and only allowed to bring 3 personal items, what would they be?
A: My kite board, my golf club and a rubber dinghy so that I could leave if I wanted to.
Q: What are the guiding leadership principles that you have discovered and executed that have contributed to your success?
A: For me, it’s treating the team and the individual staff members honestly and fairly. Being authentic and respectful is critical. Don’t hide yourself or fail to impart information, good or bad, that will impact them and their role. Honesty and straight talking will earn their respect and I truly believe that this is the most effective way to manage teams and ensure you have an open dialogue in an atmosphere of trust. My door has and will continue to always be open.
Q:What’s the best thing about working in the marine insurance industry?
A: Marine is a relatively small line of business compared to others and yet, you’re able to build a global network of relationships that you can harness and nurture. I really enjoy the human aspect – I have met some fantastic people along the way, some of whom I would certainly now call my friends.
Q: What’s the worst thing?
A: Despite it being a small line of business, marine losses and maritime casualties are often spectacular and covered extensively in the news. Marine is high profile and people are always keen to know everything. Therefore, one has to be aware of being regularly questioned by all kinds of interested parties. So, you should be clear on the facts to give the right answers.
Q: What are the most pressing challenges facing leaders in marine insurance today?
A: Marine insurance businesses have to get back to profitability to secure a sustainable future. It‘s about adequate risk pricing and taking into account the changing risk environment such as growing values and aggregations of goods in transit and storage, as well as the increasing number of extreme weather events.
Managing risk and cost is a key component also. Digitalization can help to increase productivity, efficiency and quality whilst reducing risks and improving customer satisfaction.
Q: What should be top of the priority list for businesses working in marine?
A: Digitalization and innovation continue to redefine shipping and logistics and will transform the existing insurance value chain.
Making use of digital technologies and advanced data analytics will enable intelligent portfolio optimization and more informed risk evaluation. These developments open huge opportunities for new products and services and will help to expand the borders of insurability.
It is crucial for marine insurers to promote the digital transformation of our business and push innovation as a key driver for competitiveness.
Q: If you were to start your own marine insurance business tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would do?
A: Call the broker! In today’s world, they are the ones producing the business. This might change in the future but for now, it makes commercial sense to have a good broker producing business for you.
Q: What can the marine insurance market learn from motor? And, vice versa?
A: Motor insurance is an extremely commoditised market - marine insurance in contrast is still very much an expertise and consultancy driven line of business. The asset is also completely different between marine and motor. Marine business is cross-border which makes it difficult to design a product which works well in different countries and jurisdictions.
Check out the rest of the Q&A here:.