With the withdrawal of government pandemic support, 2022 will be a make-or-break year for many businesses in the UK and Ireland. Firms will see opportunities to grow — but will also be aware of the devastating hit to cash flow if a strategic customer collapses.
Our Chief Executive, Sarah Murrow, and Commercial Director, Özlem Ozuner, discuss how Allianz Trade will support you during the next 12 months.
Q: How did the market change during 2021?
Sarah: I'm very pleased with our support of clients and brokers during the very uncertain and volatile year of 2021. Despite the difficulties, we were fully open for business, offering consistent and uninterrupted service even during the lockdown in the first months of 2021.
As such, we were fully ready in the second half of the year when our clients turned to us to help support growth, as restrictions eased. Our best-in-class risk assessment and economic data helped our clients make informed business decisions and plan for what’s ahead.
These are unprecedented economic conditions, and our clients rightly asked us to be flexible and innovative. I'm pleased we met that challenge.
Özlem: Certainly, 2021 was a year of two halves. Government support was significant in the first part of the year. Market sentiment was similar to 2020, with some sectors hard hit and others still enjoying an unexpected boom. We had to balance our underwriting to reflect this.
It was around the middle of the year that things began to change, not only in the UK but also in European countries, with some state support schemes ending. So, we had to show the flexibility that Sarah mentioned.
Q: What’s happening at Allianz Trade in terms of technology?
Sarah: Our technology investment programme is continuing. We've continued to add additional services to the Online Allianz Trade portal, bringing extra convenience and speed to our customers. For our more tech-intensive clients, we have also upgraded the Allianz Trade APIs, which allow clients to set up direct, two-way links to our systems.
Özlem: We will be implementing our new customer service model in 2022, empowering our customer-facing functions, adding more features to our omnichannel experience and investing in new technology to improve customer service.
And we will be changing our policy management system to a new, global system that will help us provide digitally advanced credit insurance solutions to our customers.
Our investment in technology is running in parallel with the training programs we are offering our staff. This will be particularly important as we offer more services to new types of customers, such as e-commerce platforms and fintechs.
Q: What is the outlook?
Özlem: Our top priorities for 2022 will be to support our policyholders and facilitate growth as global trade rebounds; we expect global trade in volume to gradually return to its pre-crisis long-term average, with growth at +5.4% in 2022 and +4.0% in 2023.
Sarah: The withdrawal of government support measures, in addition to other challenges such as Omicron-related disruptions, supply chain delays and Brexit, will contribute to a gradual normalisation of business insolvencies next year. We forecast a 20% increase in insolvencies in the UK and 46% increase in Ireland. Our priority is to stand by our customers throughout the uneven recovery, helping them safely optimise the economic rebound. We are forecasting GDP growth of +4.4% in the UK and +6.0% in Ireland this year.
We want to grow the trade credit insurance market – enabling more UK and Irish businesses to trade in safety. We will innovate and make new products and services available to achieve this.
Q: What keywords or concepts do you think will describe 2022?
Özlem: Embrace the new world and getting back to sustainable growth.
Sarah: I’m going to pick growth, transformation, and innovation.