With a heavy heart

Maximilian Zimmerer is a patient man. Even in times of crisis and market turbulence he never tires of championing his message among the German population: "Life insurance will remain indispensable for old-age provision in the future." He comments tersely on news of its impending demise: "Rubbish!" Zimmerer – who has been at the helm of market leader Allianz Leben for the past six years, follows up his words with actions. Between them, he and his wife have nine life insurance policies with Allianz. "Can't get any safer than that," he says.

As a Rhinelander, Zimmerer is imbued with an inborn optimism, which he believes many Germans lack. He was especially struck by this in 1997 when he worked for six months at the asset management company RCM in the US. "That was a revelation for me," he says, describing his impressions. "Americans approach things with a different attitude. They're virtually unshakable in their optimism and are more adept at coping with difficult phases."

Germans, by contrast, have an almost inherent skepticism, he says. Investors are risk-averse, and whenever the stock markets take a tumble they immediately see the imminent fall of the Western world. And even in good times they wonder how long it will last instead of simply enjoying it. "Americans are completely different in this respect," Zimmerer says. "They ride the bull as long as they can."

Zimmerer, who has three daughters, began his career in the Institutional Investments Division of Allianz AG in 1988, where he learned the investment business from the bottom up. In 1994, he became the head of the Bonds Department of Allianz Leben. In 1999 he was involved in the foundation of Allianz Asset Management, the predecessor of Allianz Global Investors, where he was responsible for fixed-interest investments.

Two years later he was appointed to the Board of Management of Allianz Leben, whose chairmanship he assumed in 2006. At the same time he became a member of the Board of Management of Allianz Deutschland AG. In 2010 he also became CEO of the Allianz Private Health Insurance Fund. In addition to several other functions, he chairs the Life Insurance/Pension Funds Committee of the Umbrella Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV).

What has always excited Zimmerer about his job is the scope of his responsibilities – from insurance to the investment of around 150 billion euros of customers’ money. "Allianz is well placed in the field of personal insurance. We have an excellent team, and it's fun to watch things grow there," says the passionate chess player and hobby photographer. "I'm leaving with a heavy heart too."

As far as his scope of responsibilities is concerned, he shouldn't be complaining about boredom in his new position as the successor to Paul Achleitner on the Board of Management of Allianz SE. In addition to Global Life, he will also be responsible for finance and capital investments – amounting to some 450 billion euros.

Maximilian Zimmerer

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