Reaching for new heights with a foundation of trust

Reaching for new heights with a foundation of trust

EastWest Ageas CEO Sjoerd Smeets shares his vision for the company and how the Filipino customer is at the heart of it all

A premium on trust

Customer trust is one of the foundations of many businesses, particularly in insurance. Embracing digital transformation, adapting to regulatory changes, and addressing market volatility and competition are all factors that determine a company’s success.

This is the philosophy of Sjoerd Smeets as EastWest Ageas’ President and CEO. He believes trust will propel the company to newer, greater heights.

Mr. Smeets hopes to make a difference by building trust and open communication with consumers and within the company.

“One thing that stood out from my previous experience with a Dutch insurer: their line of trust was undeniable. It was evident from product development to customer communication,” he said in a BusinessWorld One-on-One interview.

Mr. Smeets makes it a point to visit financial advisors across the country. He does this to know more about the customers. “Visiting and talking to our advisors gives me additional insight,” Mr. Smeets said. “I always bring that back.”

“We listen to what our advisors say. Their feedback is crucial for us to know how we can improve the way we do things,” he added.

A need for education

In the first quarter of 2023, the insurance penetration rate in the country was only 1.75% of its economic output.

“I think the biggest issue that I see here in the Philippines is the level of financial literacy. It may also have to do with income level,” Mr. Smeets said.

“Currently, we engage our community on social media about personal finance tips, financial planning basics, and preparing for unexpected health emergencies. In this approach, we can help Filipinos learn and recognize that, while it may not appear necessary to get one right now, life insurance is essential to reach their long-term goals,” he added.

A purpose for society

Mr. Smeets admits that he was not initially interested in a career in the insurance industry. “Insurance was not particularly appealing when I started in the industry. People wanted to work for oil companies or major banks,” he stated. “But, over the years, I’ve realized that insurance is a critical industry.”

He pointed out that the insurance industry acts as a backbone for financial stability and risk management. It does so for both individuals and corporations. It enables both parties to manage risk by protecting against unanticipated events. These events might include accidents, natural catastrophes, or sickness.

“I learned to appreciate this industry because it adds so much value to society. That crystal-clear mindset is what I carry with me everywhere,” Mr. Smeets added.

You can view Mr. Smeets’ One-on-One interview on BusinessWorld’s Facebook and YouTube pages.


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