STORY LAB with Karel van HULLE (2): 9 lessons learnt in a lifelong career in reforming financial markets

22 April 2021 — Daniela GHETU
I have been very fortunate that I had the opportunity during my professional career to be closely associated with many important reforms which - I can say - have had important consequences for society, Karel van HULLE, KU Leuven and Goethe University Frankfurt told the STORY LAB show's viewers.

"I think insurance still has a great future on the condition that insurers show leadership by offering solutions for the important challenges that will continue to preoccupy people in the coming years: climate change, sustainability, ageing society, health, natural catastrophes. In order to meet these challenges, we need the right people, the right leadership and the right products. There are still too many protection gaps that need to be closed. Regulation can help but the ball is clearly in the camp of the insurance industry," he stated in the end of the interview during which has shared some aspects of his personal story. After a lifelong career spent in different European institutions supervising and regulating different segments of the financial market, as well as educating generations after generations of students in the university, Karel van HULLE has summarized the lesson learned in 9 short pieces of advice.

What have I learnt from all this:

  • take an opportunity when it presents itself and look out for opportunities;
  • learn to work hard but make time for the good aspects of life;
  • cherish team work and do not try to do everything yourself;
  • make sure that your staff respects you because you work at least as hard as they do, and you give them responsibility;
  • do not forget to praise staff when they deserve it: they will do even better the next time;
  • listen to stakeholders before starting to regulate;
  • when regulating, do not believe everything industry tells you, but make sure to remember what they told you and remind them about it when necessary;
  • do not confuse business friends with real friends;
  • try to keep an independent state of mind so that you can look at yourself in the mirror without being embarrassed.
I have learnt to appreciate insurance. It is very different from banking. It attracts a different kind of people. Because of the technical nature of insurance, insurers have great difficulties explaining what they are doing. This is one of the reasons why the important socio-economic role of insurance still remains one of the world's best kept secrets.

I have tried to make insurance more popular by speaking about insurance to a wider audience and by encouraging students to look for a job in insurance. Many former students have now joined the group of chief risk officers, actuaries and insurance supervisors.The professionalization that followed the introduction of Solvency II has made the insurance industry more attractive for young people, as the new solvency regime is more aligned with modern principles of risk management. Taking a master degree in insurance or starting a professional career in insurance has therefore become a more credible option.

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