PersonaliaNew Chief Financial Officer

Allianz-CFO Coste-Lepoutre wants to analyse with foresight

She is the new face of Allianz on the capital market: Claire-Marie Coste-Lepoutre. The 48-year-old has been Chief Financial Officer since the beginning of the year and will present the balance sheet figures for the first time on 23 February.

Allianz-CFO Coste-Lepoutre wants to analyse with foresight

Annual press conferences are a milestone in any company's financial communications. For insurer Allianz, this year's event is also an exceptional date for another reason.

For the first time, Claire-Marie Coste-Lepoutre will be presenting the annual figures to journalists and analysts on 23 February. After all, the 48-year-old took over from Giulio Terzariol as Head of Finance at the beginning of January. "I'm an inquisitive person, I'm looking forward to this appointment," she says talking with Börsen-Zeitung.

Anyone who meets the French-born manager can immediately sense this openness. She approaches her surroundings with precise analysis and a beaming smile. But above all, the mother of two teenage children has impressive professional experience. "She has basically seen everything in this industry," is the admiring praise from Terzariol, who has moved from Allianz to the Board of Management of competitor Generali. And Claire-Marie Coste-Lepoutre is also a wonderful person.

"Making a difference in this world"

Why did she end up in the insurance industry? "I want to make a difference in this world," is Coste-Lepoutre's answer. Insurance is simply essential for people. She also has a flair for numbers – even in her free time. She reads science fiction books because they contain mathematical patterns, she says.

Coste-Lepoutre, who was born in Châlons-en-Champagne in the heart of France, does indeed think very much in structures. Her education has provided the tools for this: She has a Master's degree in actuarial mathematics from the Lyon Institut de Science Financière et d'Assurances, and as an actuary, she is a member of the Actuarial Society in France.

More data in real-time

Coste-Lepoutre also wants to use these approaches in her new role as CFO of Allianz SE to contribute to the development of the Group – without having a rigid concept for her first months in office. Her philosophy: "The CFO function must not just look to the past, but must analyse with foresight."

For example, more and more data needs to be made available in real-time. The integration of the finance function with the operational units is essential to her, she says. Coste-Lepoutre has observed in the insurance industry, for example, that future opportunities were misjudged because the players ignored the current state of the industry cycle in their analyses. Meanwhile, she does not believe it is necessary to introduce other key figures to manage Allianz.

International right from the cradle

It is also vital for Coste-Lepoutre to maintain the Munich-based insurer's resilience. She became acquainted with capital optimisation and reinsurance when she started her career at Scor. From 1999 to 2004, she worked for the French reinsurer in various roles in Paris and Toronto.

Coste-Lepoutre has been familiar with local flexibility and internationality since she was a child. "We moved around a lot when my father changed jobs in the army," she reports. Coste-Lepoutre has, therefore, also spent many years in Germany, but despite her excellent knowledge of German, she prefers to speak English because that allows a more precise dialogue.

Desire to be operationally active

She gained an overview of the entire insurance industry as an Associate Principal at McKinsey (2004 to 2011), based in Paris and Vienna. Ultimately, however, this horizon became too narrow for her. "For me, making a difference in the world means that I didn't just want to analyse, I wanted to be operationally active," she reports.

It was a good thing that Oliver Bäte, who had been responsible for the European insurance and asset management sector at McKinsey Germany until 2007, had moved to Allianz. Coste-Lepoutre headed his office in Munich during Bäte's time as CFO from 2011 to 2012. "It was a good experience because I built up contacts throughout the Group and knowledge of the instrument box, which I was then able to utilise."

Longstanding cooperation with Bäte

After Bäte's move to a Management Board position with responsibility for France and Benelux, among others, Coste-Lepoutre also worked in his environment as Head of the Business Division there (2013 to 2015), based in Munich.

Now, the duo has met again at the top of Allianz. Could the longstanding professional collaboration with current CEO Bäte also be a disadvantage? Coste-Lepoutre sees no problems at all. She holds Bäte in high esteem, and the cooperation is excellent and productive. Financial communications will also be reorganised because the heads of investor relations and the financial press department will soon be retiring.

Masterpiece AGCS

Coste-Lepoutre moved into the position of CFO in 2015, when she worked as regional CFO for Allianz Benelux in Brussels for four years. It was essential to keep an eye on all divisions, she recalls. Terzariol also emphasises that his successor has expertise in both property and casualty insurance as well as life insurance.

The current Allianz CFO delivered her masterpiece as CFO of the Allianz industrial insurer. Together with the now departed CEO Joachim Müller, she reorganised AGCS and was promoted to Deputy CEO in 2023.

But then everything changed: in September of last year, she moved to Allianz SE as Head of Group Planning and Controlling, taking on the position that is considered a stepping stone to the position of Allianz CFO.