Working with Vlerick

previous icon One major lesson Ageas has learned from the past is to think carefully about whom they take advice from. With many large consultancy firms duty bound to protect their own interests, De Smet stresses the importance of finding an impartial point of view. He says, “Some companies are more and more managed by outsiders, rather than by the real management. Today, not a day goes by without a meeting with two or three bankers or consultants. They come to meet me, and if I don’t accept the appointment they’ll go to some of my colleagues or ultimately to my chairman. They are trying to infiltrate wherever they can.”

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“My personal viewpoint is that we should try to fall back as little as possible on external help. They are never neutral. They will always try to advise you, and they're always thinking about the next mission. But with Vlerick, we’ve always had good experiences.”

“The merit of an organisation like Vlerick is that you can count on people with a lot of experience, who have been in all sectors and are able to compare them. Who, due to their experience, can work out a sound methodology. It’s not about somebody telling you what he’s already told your five competitors, and then you all drown together in the sea. Or, you all together have success, but you can never really all be successful. This really was customised to our needs. We have a partner who has not been created to generate recurring fees for the same company.”

Having the respectability that comes from Vlerick’s seal of approval has also benefitted Ageas. De Smet explains, “In a relationship with a business school like Vlerick, you don’t only take information because it also works the other way. For instance, if there is a specific topic we have as a company or as an industry, whatever we say about it, we are seen as preaching for our own chapel. People think, ‘Of course they say people should save for their pensions, they’re in the business.’ With the help of academic sources, we can make this story, which is a real story, more credible.”

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