Noise about the supervisory board of the insurer Volkswohl Bund – economics

A manager who, according to his critics, led an insurance company into a serious crisis with his eyes wide open, can he become chairman of the supervisory board of this very company? There is a dispute in Dortmund about this issue.

At first glance, this is a completely normal change at the top of the supervisory board. Rainer Isringhaus, 74, left midsize insurer Volkswohl Bund a year before his term expired. The new president is Joachim Maas, 66 years old and responsible for the company until 2017.

Secret and not so secret papers

But behind the dry report there is a heated discussion that took place with secret and not-so-secret papers, special committee meetings and numerous personal conversations. Intriguing barn to a high standard.

The dispute reveals a problem faced by many insurers: they are not public limited companies, but rather mutual insurance associations, that is, cooperatives. However, the members have comparatively little to say. In reality, the board elects the member representatives, who are supposed to control it. You can’t talk about real supervision.

Isringhaus, who is leaving the supervisory board, doesn’t think much of his successor and his job as a former boss. In a letter to the member representatives, dated April 7, 2022, he accuses the current management of the company in charge of Dietmar Bläsing of not looking for the best among high-level staff, but always insisting on solutions. internal. “In Cologne we talk about cliques,” he writes.

He speaks of a disaster in the management of the group by Maas. It came to light with the introduction of the new Solvency II supervisory and fairness rules, which came into force in 2016 and had already determined the company’s policy years before. “In 2015, the Volkswohl Bund found itself in a crisis that threatened its very existence,” writes Isringhaus. “My goal was and is to introduce standards that are completely business as usual, including the Volkswohl Bund, to prevent a repeat of the structures that led to the crisis.”

Isringhaus knows what he is writing about. From 1992 to 2007, the mathematician was a member of the board of directors of Cologne Reinsurance, now Gen Re, and was responsible for life insurance there. In 2008 he became a member of the supervisory board of the Volkswohl Bund and in 2014 its chairman. On the crisis in Dortmund, he writes: “In 2015, there was a lack of more than two billion euros in solvency capital, which meant that the company fell under intensified supervision by Bafin, which meant that the board of directors had to submit semi-annual situation reports to the authority”.

The group has sales of around €1.7 billion, of which €1.6 billion correspond to life insurance. Two billion euros of capital are missing, a tidy sum. Not surprisingly, BaFin was concerned about client funds.

At that time, the board of directors had decided to create a new subsidiary, Dortmunder Leben. “This step seemed necessary because there was justifiable concern that the parent company’s approval to draft new business could be withdrawn at any time,” Isringhaus interprets the decision.

Isringhaus claims that CEO Maas was responsible for the unfortunate situation. He not only led the company into crisis with his eyes wide open, but also managed it clumsily as a result. “Therefore, I cannot deny that I do not consider Dr. Maas suitable to succeed me as Chairman of the Supervisory Board due to his background.” In the letter, Isringhaus advocates a selection process that also includes external candidates.

Neither the Volkswohl Bund nor Isringhaus want to talk about the facts. But in a web conference on April 8, 2022, company boss Bläsing was able to convince the member representatives that the allegations were meaningless or at least not decisive. The minutes of the web conference note that, according to Bläsing, there was no crisis that threatened the company’s existence six years ago.

So everything is fine in Dortmund. On Thursday this week, Joachim Maas was elected Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

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