Three Letters

One of my colleagues, with whom I worked together during 1998-2003 in insurance market once told me a story:

The previous CEO gives the new CEO three sealed envelopes, and tells him to open them at times when he starts to feel desperate. The new CEO, who opens the first letter as soon as he starts the job sees the phrase “Criticize the previous management”, and does as told. One year passes, and he opens the second letter which reads: “Tell them what you plan to do in the future”. Another one or two years pass, and he opens the last letter: “Prepare three sealed envelopes for the next CEO”.

Long story short.

We had set the target of becoming one of the top ten companies in the market at TEB Sigorta where I started as CEO in March 2005. After three tough years, I had the pride of leading the team which successfully sold the company to Zurich Financial Services in 2008 with the second highest multiplier at the in the Turkish insurance market.

I know that ZFS had applied all the evaluation and audit methodologies they apply anywhere else when they were acquiring TEB Sigorta. During the three years between 2005-2007, TEB Sigorta has both been among the top 5 in terms of growth and reached the highest ROE ratios among its peers. ZFS gave two offers as it is the custom in such transactions. One non-binding offer, and one binding offer according to the results of the due diligence. After the studies of the international auditing companies, actuarial consultancy teams and Zurich’s own experts, the company’s financials were soo good that, there was no difference between the binding and the non-binding offers, and so the company was sold with the second highest multiplier in the market. I am still proud to have led the team that has produced those results.

In 2008, there was the company’s acquisition process and naturally the rebranding and costs of Zurich integration. In 2009, as can be seen from Zurich Sigorta A.S. financials which can be monitored on TSB (Turkish Insurance Association’s web page), the company was the second best in the market in terms of technical profit and had pretty decent results in terms of financial results. In 2010, there was a loss due to 5 large losses that came one after another. In February 2011, after my 3-year contract expired, I left my duty at Zurich Sigorta for a new entrepreneurial adventure.

The company’s market share was 2.04% at the end of 2009 and 1.94% at the end of 2010. 

I had the honor of opening 5 Zurich HelpPoint Centers which are now being copied by many companies in the market. I also had the privilige of implementation of the new core insurance software phase by phase starting from 2008, for which we had spent considerable resources and money. Finishing TEB Sigorta-Zurich integration 6 months prior to planned deadline, winning the Zurich Starz award in only our second year with innovative technological infrastructure and applications which no other company in the group had at the time, achieving the highest employee satisfaction score among 160 companies in the global employee satisfaction survey were also among the priviliges we had at the time (no such absurdities as 50% increase between two consecutive years!).

By the way, I was the one who insisted that the life company that the bank will be working with should transfer personal accident policies to Zurich. I see the effects of this personal accident production in the company’s technical profitability specially during the last four years. It may be monitored on official statistics (open to public) that life company’s growth is very strong via bank channel. I am glad that I had insisted.

I am delighted to see the successes of the companies that I have worked at in later years with their new managers. However, going back to the letter story at the start of my post, I watch with astonishment, confusion, sadness, those who are still stuck in the first letter with their untrue and unnecessary statements about my term at the company, where they are preparing to open the third letter…

 

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