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Grupo SURA: a Colombian giant in Latin America

Article - February 19, 2014
Suramericana is Colombia´s leading insurance company, with over 70 years of experience. It offers a variety of services and alternatives to its clients
There have been many insurance companies operating in Colombia for a number of years, not only local ones, like Suramericana and Grupo Bolívar, but also renowned companies like MAPFRE, Liberty and Allianz.

The presence of this many insurance companies means the competition is fierce and, as a consequence, the service is better. “But the market penetration still isn’t what we would like it to be,” says Mr. David Bojanini, president of Grupo Sura, the parent company of Suramericana S.A. 
“Our company has the challenge of reaching many more people than it does today, even though we are the leading insurance company in the country,” explains Mr. Bojanini, adding that in their 70 years of experience, they have learned to pay special attention to the development of the channels they use to reach people. “Many other companies concentrate on bigger businesses like corporate insurance. Not us, though.

We sell to people, to families, and that makes us, undoubtedly, the leading company in individual life insurance policies. By starting from the people, we have earned the leadership necessary to also deal with corporate clients”.   
One of the strategies Suramericana used to reach the Colombian people was to establish retail points in local and popular stores like Exito, with which they have a special alliance. “We are also developing other channels, like through the Internet, so we can reach people easily and give more people the option of insurance,” explains Mr. Bojanini. 
But their main strategy is, quite simply, having well-trained and amicable people attending the client’s needs.  In Mr. Bojanini’s words: “Our companies are service businesses, so our main strength is the quality of the people that work with us.

It is, in fact, one of the things we invest in the most: that the people working in SURA have and develop the necessary qualities for us to be an company of international standards. The most important thing is for our employees to be hard-working men and women that want to serve others and do it with responsibility, transparency and respect:”
Their expansion plans are not solely focused on Colombia. In 2011, Grupo SURA bought the operations of Dutch group ING in five Latin American countries. “It was quite a leap in our international expansion process. And doing it simultaneously in five countries, and with leading companies, was a very important investment that required a special strategy so that we wouldn’t jeopardize the company’s positive scores,” says Mr. Bojanini. Because of this risk, today Grupo SURA is the leading pension option in the region and one of the most important players in the insurance, savings and investments industries in Latin America.  
Consequently, the company has started considering new investment options. Mr. Bojanini explains SURA’s strategy: “We are now focused on consolidating our leadership in each of the countries where we are present. We want to make new and smaller acquisitions that will let us fusion our current operations and offer different products. This is what we call growth management. We want to be able to offer our pensions clients other products like life insurance and investment funds, products that will resolve all of the client’s necessities.”