German life insurers have spoken with a forked tongue in the difficult years since the global financial crisis.

Compared to politics, they have upheld the myth that subsidized old-age provision can only be operated with a generous guarantee to customers.

In contrast, they have soberly prepared consumers that private old-age provision can only offer opportunities if it reduces guarantees.

One communication was directed towards politicians who wanted to convince that life insurance companies should continue to enjoy a privilege in state-sponsored old-age provision. The other communication was for survival. Contrary to what has been claimed, it is very easy to convey to consumers that interest guarantees at very low capital market rates are to be equated with shrinking returns. Brokers and consumers have embraced this knowledge.

The fact that the associated message worked and that customers also play along shows that insurers have made strategically sensible decisions.

The product landscape has changed radically (also thanks to the intervention of the supervisory authority under its President Hufeld).

What remained is the collective saving as a successful model.

It would be important for the clout of the industry if the argumentation as a lobby did not sound different from the argumentation towards the customer.

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