MetLife (Metropolitan Life), with over one million customers in Romania, is a major player in the rapidly developinginsurance sector. Emilia Bunea, CEO, helped launch Romania’s first capital-markets activity after the revolution and has held management positions in the insurance industry since 2000. She served as the CFO of ING Europe before joining MetLife Romania in 2014. She discusses MetLife’s role in Romania’s insurance market.
European Times: MetLife Romania recently became a subsidiary of MetLife Europe based in Ireland. How does the new structure affect your autonomy here in Romania?
Emilia Bunea: MetLife Romania is now held to the very high standards of the Central Bank of Ireland, which should help increase customer confidence in the company. The Romanian operation still has a lot of autonomy concerning services for local customers, while back-office operations are managed more centrally by MetLife Europe. This allows our team in Romania to focus on what is most important locally. MetLife is the biggest independent bank-insurance player in the Romanian market and has established many partnerships with local banks, including a new one with Banca Transilvania. These partnerships mean that people from all social levels have easy access to MetLife insurance products.
European Times: How have recent reforms in the insurance sector affected the market overall?
Emilia Bunea: The recent reforms in the insurance market were necessary since they dealt with problems and corruption, although these reforms also provoked some distrust of the insurance sector. Now customers are regaining their trust in leading insurance companies, and the insurance market long-term will be much more professional.
European Times: What are MetLife’s competitive advantages?
Emilia Bunea: MetLife has global reach since it is active in 54 countries and is the biggest insurer in the US. Here in Romania, the MetLife team has been working together for 17 years and has developed extensive local experience and advanced skills. MetLife provides innovative, customised insurance products for both individuals and companies. Our team puts the emphasis on customer service and is known for short response times, excellent products, personalised services and unbeatable prices. MetLife Romania focuses on families, for example by creating Romania’s first insurance for children, and the company is very involved in corporate social responsibility projects geared to children.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential investors in Romania?
Emilia Bunea: Romania has enormous growth potential, particularly in life insurance, which is a market that is just beginning to develop here.