Erik Keszthelyi, Founder and Co-Owner

Hungarikum Alkusz Group is today an unavoidable player in the Hungarian insurance market through its traditional broker and bank insurance channels, with nearly 3,000 consultants and more than 200 full-time employees, retail, SME, large corporate and bank insurance sales channels, as well as a network of car dealers.

The group currently consists of 13 member companies and has its own foundation. Last year, they achieved a total net sales revenue of more than HUF 9 billion at group level, and this year they are targeting more than HUF 12 billion.

The Group’s flagship company is Hungarikum Biztosítási Alkusz Kft., an insurance brokerage partner of large public and private companies. With more than 17 years of experience, the company now manages the insurance portfolios of nearly 3,000 large companies and groups, with more than 500,000 employees among its TOP100 clients.

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“Our mission is to offer the Hungarian people and businesses operating in Hungary a financial and insurance background that covers their needs to the maximum”, said Erik Keszthelyi, the group’s number one manager and, alongside Lőrinc Mészáros, also its 50% owner through Keszthelyi Holding. The last Hungarian-owned company to achieve a similar scale was Quantis, which became the largest domestic insurance broker, but the key difference is that Quantis brokered over 90% of unit-linked insurance, while Hungarikum Alkusz Group is more active in non-life insurance, although its portfolio includes a full range of life insurance products and the sale of credit and capital market products.

The Group has low staff turnover, a focus on employee wellbeing—fruit days, smoothies, massages, birthday parties—and social responsibility, and community programmes are a key part of the culture. The insurance professional has a reputation for being always on the move. “From 2010, I commuted between Szekszárd and Budapest; so, on weekdays, I would get up at 3 a.m. and, starting at 5, I’d start my management meet- ings in the office to beat the rush”, said the Managing Director, who became the Managing Director of Optimal-GB Biztosítási Alkusz és Pénzügyi Szolgáltató Kft. in 2010, which changed its name to Hungarikum Insurance Biztosítási Alkusz Kft. in 2015. His strict schedule has not changed since then.

“I can get through 5 or 6 meetings by 9 a.m. If I look at the competition, I have much more time for strategic planning and implementation”, he added. But it’s not just the early work start that has made the group a dominant player in the market, Keszthelyi says, it’s that they really do the job that should be expected in this business. “The job of an insurance broker is not only to broker contracts, but also to provide a service. In contrast, the market is comfortable, with insurance brokers sitting on 5-10 year old portfolios”, Keszthelyi said.

A good illustration of the difference is that brokerage firms typically do not have claims adjusters and, if there is a problem, they refer the client to the insurer. In contrast, the group has nearly 30 people dedicated to claims settlement only, and most of its clients are linked to them not only by single contracts, but by a range of financial products, whether retail, SME or large corporate. It is a basic expectation of colleagues that they should compete for contracts for the client by the insurance anniversary. “We have over 500,000 customers and our retention rate is above the market, thanks in part to the customer service system that we’ve consistently built over the past 10 years. Our clients receive not just a product, but a complete service package”, added Keszthelyi, who also believes in the importance of personal contact: “I know the insurance portfolios of at least 1,000 clients by heart.”

The fact that a compulsory motor third party insurance policy or a travel insurance policy is nowadays taken out online is natural, but he believes that a life or pension insurance policy also requires a personal consultation. Nevertheless, it is an international trend that insurance companies focus on off- the-shelf products, not only in the retail segment but also in the corporate business, which Keszthelyi believes is a strategic mistake; he sees Hungarikum’s growth potential in this and, partly due to this, they have increased their stake in CIG Pannonia to 32.96% in recent months. “We are confident that the management of CIG Pannónia will continue to see the market opportunity in products tailored to the real-life situation of clients, rather than in off-the-shelf products, and will remain an insurer that takes the needs of clients and brokers into account”, Keszthelyi said.

Although many think that CIG Pannonia is privileged because the Hungarikum Alkusz Group, which has more than 3,000 consultants, prefers to sell its insurance products, the manager says that they sharply distinguish between the roles of owner and broker. “We sell insurance that provides the best insurance protection for our clients’ specific circumstances, which means that we serve their needs in accordance with the law, and we work together with all the major insurance companies operating in Hungary.”

This does not mean that the Group does not see potential in online sales; on the contrary: it plans to launch its online retail insurance brokerage platform under the name in the near future.