Integra’s Formidable Leadership Team: Disrupting Turkey’s Insurance Markets

Under the dynamic leadership of CEO and board member Kemal Dincer, Integra Insurance and Reinsurance Broking Services Inc. is reshaping Turkey’s insurance and brokerage landscape. Joining him at the helm are four distinguished partners, each an expert in their domain: Murat İleri, with expertise in marine; Volkan Şimşekalp, known for his expertise in power and energy; Onur Aksu, specializing in trade credit risks; and İpek Ünal, an expert in cyber insurance. Together, the five-member formidable leadership team is steering Integra toward becoming a leading player in the highly competitive insurance and brokerage market of Turkey.

Integra boasts not just the core quartet of partners but also seven additional luminaries, each wielding a unique expertise. Among them, one commands the helm of Integra’s İzmir branch, while another steers the ship in Ankara. Another yet champions the realm of employee benefits with unwavering dedication. The rest of its esteemed partners are entrusted with safeguarding Integra’s corporate clients, orchestrating both local and global property and casualty insurance programs. They also mastermind Integra’s Enterprise Risk Management initiatives and specialize in mitigating unique risks that challenge modern enterprises.

Founded in 2015, Integra has already established itself as a fast-growing, successful, and respected player in the Turkish insurance space. Kemal highlights that it is a top independent insurance broker in the country. “We are committed to building upon this foundation to achieve even greater heights,” he says. Integra’s growth and expansion in diverse insurance markets will continue to be propelled by the combined experience, expertise, and vision of Kemal, Murat, Volkan, Onur, and İpek and others Partners.

Kemal Dincer – CEO and Board Member

Kemal Dincer has carved out a distinctive place for himself in Turkey’s insurance brokerage industry. In 1988, soon after graduating from Bosphorus University, he co-founded his first company with his father, and in 2008, he merged his company to the then largest broker of France Gras Savoye, where he served as Manager Partner & Board Member for 7 years. In 2015, he co-founded Integra, motivated by his conviction in the potential to disrupt the monopoly held by major brokers in specific, yet lucrative, specialty insurance categories.  His goal was to bring in alternative solutions to cater to the demands of big businesses, and he succeeded in doing so when Integra rose to the top of the Turkish insurance brokering ranks, leading the specialized risks insurance, etc.

As CEO, Kemal’s responsibilities are multifaceted and encompass various aspects of leadership, strategy, operations, and stakeholder management. He crafts the company’s overall vision, mission, and strategic direction. These involve developing long-term goals and objectives, formulating strategic plans, and ensuring alignment throughout the organization. Kemal leads and guides senior management and the broader team as well, inspiring them to work towards their shared vision and empowering them to achieve their goals. “I also oversee the day-to-day operations of the company, ensuring that processes and systems are in place to support efficient and effective execution of our strategic initiatives,” he says.

Kemal does not believe in being a hands-on leader, overseeing every aspect of the company. He calls himself an “orchestral conductor.” He creates the right environment for the exceptional teams that make up Integra to showcase their knowledge, talents, and capacities to the fullest extent possible. “I am not a CEO who says ‘I’, but rather someone who provides experienced mentorship to teams, the first person they turn to for questions and concerns, representing the company at the highest level both among industry players and clients and offering the friendships and acquaintances gained over years in the business world to the partnerships of our Partners,” he points out.

At Integra, Kemal’s leadership skills have been instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and excellence. By providing clear direction, strategic guidance, and unwavering support, he inspires his team to consistently exceed expectations and deliver exceptional results.

Reflecting on Integra’s journey, Kemal points out the progress made since its inception eight years ago, as reflected in the maturity of its corporate structure and achievements. “Looking ahead, despite the dynamic nature of the insurance industry and the heavy service-oriented workload it entails, along with occasional stress, I believe that the upcoming period will be more peaceful, enjoyable, and conducive to savoring success,” he says.

Kemal also has a strong sports background. He began playing basketball at the age of 12 and eventually turned professional. Throughout his career, he played for leading teams in Turkey, securing championships and cups along the way. Sports remained as a significant part of his life alongside his work in the insurance industry. He also served as General Manager of Fenerbahce Football Team, President of Delegate Committee at Turkish Football Federation, Board Member at Turkish Basketball Federation, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and currently Vice President of Turkish Basketball Federation.

Murat İleri – Partner, Expertise in Marine  

Murat İleri is a seasoned veteran of the marine insurance industry, with over 20 years of multifaceted experience. Previously, he served as an oceangoing master, and an underwriter at a prominent insurance company, and was extensively involved in the Lloyd’s market in London. Currently, as the partner focusing on marine insurance at Integra, he oversees business development, client relationship management, strategic planning, and marine claims handling. “Drawing from my wide-ranging experience, I provide invaluable insights and guidance to our clients,” he says.

In recent years, Integra has become a trusted entity in the marine insurance industry. It is mainly because of Murat’s proactive strategic risk management approach and extensive experience in the field. When he faced a significant challenge because of the heightened geopolitical tensions and war risks, notably in the Gulf of Aden, he led the assessment of clients’ exposure to such risks and then collaborated with experts to gather real-time information. Following that, he also tailored risk management strategies, including route planning, to avoid high-risk areas, enhanced onboard security measures, and specialized war risk insurance coverage.

“We ensured our clients had access to the best and most reliable war risk insurance solutions at competitive prices,” Murat says. “Our proactive approach and dedication to offering the best value to our clients have solidified our position as trusted advisors in the global maritime industry.”

In another instance, he demonstrated his commitment to protecting clients’ interests. After the safe release of the kidnapped crew members, he and his team encountered the daunting task of addressing the financial implications of the incident with insurers. Recognizing the urgent need to alleviate the client’s burden, Murat engaged in extensive negotiations with them to ensure a swift and fair resolution of the claims arising from the piracy attack. “Drawing upon my expertise in marine insurance and negotiation, I navigated the intricate process of claims settlement with precision and determination,” he recalls.

He then leveraged the company’s established relationships with the insurers and presented compelling evidence of the incident. Murat recalls that he advocated tirelessly on behalf of the company’s client to expedite the claims process and maximize compensation for the damages incurred. Through proactive communication, transparent collaboration, and skillful negotiation, he was able to successfully resolve the insurance claims in a timely manner, providing the client with the financial support needed to recover from the ordeal.

Murat foresees several significant trends and opportunities in the marine insurance industry. He expects that the growing impact of climate change, increased focus on sustainable practices, and advancements in data analytics will reshape it. “To capitalize on these trends, we aim to expand our portfolio to include innovative coverage options that address emerging risks,” he says.

“By staying at the forefront of these trends, our team is well-positioned to proactively respond to evolving industry dynamics and provide clients with forward-thinking insurance solutions,” he adds.

İpek Ünal – Partner, Expertise in Cyber Insurance 

İpek spearheads Integra’s innovative approach to cyber risk assessment and the development of custom cyber insurance solutions, tailored to meet the unique needs of clients. She follows a multi-faceted strategy to achieve her goal. It involves understanding the unique risk profiles of clients, leveraging technology, and incorporating the industry’s best practices.

İpek begins with the analysis of a client profile – both the industry profile as well as the specific risk profile of the client. She explains that every industry faces unique cyber threats, and by understanding the business, she can identify critical assets and processes that could be targeted. “Again, related to the sector, understanding the types of data handled by the client and their regulatory obligations helps in determining the level of protection needed,” she says.

She analyzes the specific risk profile to assess the client’s internal IT security, including hardware, software, outsourced services, and all cybersecurity measures in place. This assessment helps her to identify vulnerabilities and the potential impact of different cyber threats. İpek points out that she and her team tend to map out cyber threats and their potential consequences against client sector trends, which bring about insurable and uninsurable financial losses. This helps structure the policy wording and highlight critical coverage points to the client, according to her.

Quantifying risk in cyber insurance is one of the most challenging tasks, says İpek. Recently, several companies have introduced data-driven platforms that help analyze potential financial outcomes of potential cyber-attacks. Integra also provides such services to its clients in partnership with one of the well-known platforms, İpek reveals. As cyber insurance has a modular policy structure, it is possible to tailor policy coverage based on the outcome of the analysis. So, for example, if the client is a manufacturer, Business Interruption cover will need to be prioritized as opposed to data breach, hence policy construction and content shall take this into account whilst building robust cover, explains İpek.

She has also pointed out that insurers provide integrated incident response and mitigation services into the insurance offering, providing clients with access to cybersecurity experts, legal counsel, and crisis management services in the event of a cyber incident.

İpek feels that she and her team are lucky to work on ‘cyber insurance’ related solutions, which enables them to always be up to date with recent business trends including the rise in the number of FinTech companies and technology advancements. All technology-related companies are Integra’s potential targets in terms of Professional Indemnity and Cyber Insurance. “Hence, we are in close contact with FinTech ventures in Turkey now,” İpek says. We at Integra believe in the transformative power of Fintechs and all startups and their vital role in our global economy. Our expertise in risk management and financial & professional insurance solutions is here to serve sustainable growth of today’s and tomorrow’s fintechs’ and unicorns in Turkey.

She believes that innovation is key to adaptability and maintaining competitiveness in the cyber insurance space. To achieve this, she has created an inclusive culture at Integra, where every opinion is heard and open conversation is encouraged. “When people feel at peace in their work environments, this immediately leads to a learning culture,” she says.  She also highlights that well-functioning minds always remain curious and seek new problems to solve. She cites an idiom in Turkish: ‘Working iron shines’ to highlight that people who are always curious to learn new information make a difference, and only people who think they are continuously learning can feel a true sense of job satisfaction.

And İpek sees failure as a part of the learning process. “Nobody has ever been successful without failing, so I encourage our team members to take certain risks in our daily operations,” she says. She also believes humor is a key factor in ensuring that colleagues and stakeholders alike listen and engage with what she has to say. She comments: ‘Humor facilitates better relationships, enhances communication, increases job satisfaction, and deepens empathy among individuals. Additionally, it serves as a potent catalyst for innovation and plays a crucial role in fostering a positive work environment.’

Volkan Şimşekalp – Partner, Expertise in Power & Energy

Volkan, a co-founding partner, has also played a pivotal role in establishing Integra as a leader in the insurance industry – through his oversight of large-scale power and energy projects. Like other leaders in Integra, he, too, follows a multifaceted approach. It enables him to foster a culture of risk awareness and proactive risk management within the team and communicate about the significance of risk management, emphasizing its contribution to project success.

Leading by example, he demonstrates his commitment to proactive risk management. And he supports it by implementing a structured risk management framework, which provides specific guidelines for identification and mitigation in power and energy projects.

Under Volkan’s leadership, the team feels comfortable reporting and discussing potential risks. He firmly believes in recognizing and rewarding proactive efforts and values ongoing training and collaboration with cross-functional experts. These practices, according to him, further solidify a proactive risk management culture. “Regular monitoring and adaptability to changing project conditions ensure the team remains vigilant and responsive in mitigating risks effectively,” he says.

When Volkan and his team oversee the insurance coverage for power and energy infrastructure, they encounter various challenges. These include the complexity of large-scale projects, uncertainties in the evolving energy landscape, and potential catastrophic events. They strive to address these challenges by implementing sophisticated risk assessment methodologies and dynamic risk management strategies and staying abreast of regulatory complexities.

Volkan points out that the global shift towards sustainable energy is creating opportunities, leading to the development of innovative insurance products that align with environmental goals. In addition to that, the digital transformation in the energy sector is presenting both challenges, particularly in cybersecurity, and opportunities to provide specialized coverage. “My leadership has focused on balancing these challenges and opportunities, ensuring that insurance solutions are tailored to the specific complexities and dynamics of the power and energy sector,” he says.

He highlights that successful insurance product development in the power and energy sector necessitates a dynamic equilibrium between customization and standardization, ensuring comprehensive coverage while maintaining efficiency and consistency across a diverse range of projects.

Volkan, as a leader, fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation within his team by emphasizing the importance of staying current with evolving technologies and industry dynamics. He talks to them about the rapidly changing landscape and encourages a proactive mindset among team members. “We apply ongoing training programs tailored to the intersection of insurance and energy is prioritized, promoting cross-functional collaboration and collective learning,” he points out. “Innovation is actively celebrated, creating an environment where team members feel empowered to propose and implement new ideas.” He also uses technological tools and digital resources to provide accessible learning opportunities.

“Leading by example, I actively engage in continuous learning, reinforcing the value of adaptability and innovation within the insurance team in the ever-evolving Power & Energy sector,” he says.

Onur Aksu – Partner, Expertise in Trade Credit Risks

As a partner and a leader at Integra, Onur is responsible for fostering an optimal and transparent environment that ensures the safety and satisfaction of both insured clients and insurers. To achieve this, he places a high priority on clear and comprehensive communication about intricate trade credit risks, employing a proactive, client-centered approach. Onur’s strategies and approach have established Integra as a leader in the trade credit insurance market.

He is a firm believer in open dialogue and active listening, and he is committed to promptly addressing concerns. His engagements with clients lead to customized solutions that meet the unique needs of each client. And, by offering regular updates and organizing scheduled meetings, he and his team ensure that both insured clients and insurers are well-informed and equipped to navigate potential challenges effectively. “Ultimately, we aim to cultivate a harmonious partnership where both insured clients and insurers feel secure and satisfied, fostering success through effective communication, collaboration, and innovation,” Onur says.

When managing international transaction risks, trade credit insurance is a company’s primary focus. This is why Onur and his team collaborate closely with providers to tailor insurance solutions that align with the specific needs and risk tolerance of their clients. This proactive approach, according to him, safeguards their client interests by mitigating the risk of non-payment from foreign buyers.

“Additionally, we suggest diversifying customer base across regions and industries to further mitigate credit risks,” he adds. “By integrating trade credit insurance into risk management strategy, we ensure the successful execution of international transactions while protecting against potential defaults of our clients.”

An experienced veteran of the industry, Onur knows that global events can impact their clients. So, he encourages his team to pay attention to what is happening globally. “Understanding those bigger forces helps us better protect them,” he says. “We’re here to listen, offer guidance, and support them through any challenges they face,” Onur says. When needed, they team up with experts and partners in ICBA to make sure they are bringing the best solutions to the table for their clients.

As an Insurance & Reinsurance Broker, Integra’s foremost priority is to secure the most comprehensive policies with optimal conditions and terms for the clients. Onur points out that their service fee, or brokerage fee, is typically obtained from the insurance company rather than directly from the client. “Therefore, there isn’t a direct correlation between the profitability of our organization and the extent of coverage we secure for our clients,” he says.

Integra’s focus remains steadfast on negotiating the best possible coverage options for its clients while ensuring that its compensation comes from the insurance provider. “This ensures that our interests are aligned with those of our clients, and our profitability is not contingent on compromising the breadth or quality of coverage offered to them,” Onur says.

Revolutionizing Trade Credit Insurance Policy Compliance

The ICBA developed the first trade credit insurance policy compliance software, which caters to both domestic markets and large multinational programs. Recognizing the evolving needs of clients, the software offers a proactive approach to policy compliance. Unlike traditional methods where compliance was only assessed during a claim, clients now benefit from greater insight and assurance regarding their data security and coverage status.

The ICBA ARC software is internally developed, incorporating cutting-edge security techniques to ensure fluidity and adaptability to changing business requirements. Designed by specialists who actively use it, the software aims to simplify processes for clients and provide valuable KPI feedback.

Through established connections with the three largest credit insurers and the capability to integrate client data, the software leverages data analytics to enhance client understanding. This enables the identification of patterns and trends, empowering clients to make informed decisions about risk management.