On 4 November 2022, members of the senior management team of ICMIF member CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative, led by its CEO and President Noel D. Raboy, visited the headquarters of KBC in Leuven (Belgium) for a meeting and training from the KBC group to help them with growing their digitalisation and improving data management. The visit had been made possible by a collaboration between CLIMBS and another ICMIF member the Belgian Raiffeisen Foundation (BRS) which had, in turn, been facilitated by a member-to-member introduction by ICMIF.
BRS is an organisation which works out of the office of the Cera Cooperative in Leuven (Belgium). The team is made up of volunteers, which includes Cera and KBC/CBC employees who are committed to sharing their knowledge on cooperative organisations, banking and insurance with their partner organisations, such as BRS, through training and coaching.
The KBC group which facilitated the training for CLIMBS is a universal, multi-channel, bank insurer focused on private clients and small and medium-sized enterprises in Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. It was created in 1998 through the merger of Kredietbank; the cooperative CERA Bank; ABB Insurance; and Fidelitas Insurance.
CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative and BRS are both members of the International Cooperative Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and they had the opportunity to receive the training through the facilitation of Lieven Keppens, Programme Manager, KBC, and Kurt Moors, Programme Coordinator, BRS. The CLIMBS delegation found that they were both very hospitable hosts throughout the visit. The two facilitators invited a pool of experts from the KBC group who shared their insights and experience with the group from CLIMBS. This included one of the founders of KBC who explained the history of the KBC and the merging of the bank, the cooperative and the insurance companies creating what is now KBC, a bank and insurer with cooperative guiding principles.
Thanks to this training, the group from CLIMBS now fully understands what the company needs to do, especially in terms of data management, as KBC explained their data-driven strategy, where data and analytics are at the heart of solution development, client interaction and business decisions. KBC has invested in data set-up which is a high priority for the organisation. KBS’s well-designed digital architecture and infrastructure allow data to be transformed into information in a uniform, structured manner with unambiguous definition and which is compliant with regulatory and privacy requirements. This has inspired the CLIMBS’ team to do the same.
KBC also introduced its own CRM System for customer insights and profiling which CLIMBS believes can also be done with systems improvement within their organisation. Moving forward, areas of collaboration and technical assistance were identified on the digitalisation process for the enhancement of the Cooperative Assurance Centers, a trademarked distribution channel by CLIMBS owned by the cooperatives, and the compliance to IFRS and other global requirements. It was also highlighted in the meeting that the mutual difference remains a competitive advantage, and it is important for CLIMBS not to lose the “Cooperative Identity” in the ways it does business and even in values transformation among leaders across generations.
The team from CLIMBS say they found the training to be a fruitful experience and they expressed thanks to ICMIF for its assistance as the cooperative explores the possibilities of incorporating the learnings from KBC in enhancing CLIMBS organisation in the near future.