Christoph Hellwig

Partner, Financial Services

KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft

Much more than just Audit

As an auditor, Christoph Hellwig is primarily responsible for auditing the annual financial statements of insurance companies in his region. In this interview, he explains why he focuses on a holistic view of companies and how he, as a Cologne native, came to feel at home in Lower Saxony.


Mr Hellwig, what connects you with Hanover and Lower Saxony?

To be honest: very little at first. I was born in Cologne and came to Hanover via various stations in 2008 because I was offered an interesting job here. My wife and I were of the opinion that you can only get involved with a region if you live there. That's why we made a conscious decision to move here even before "taking office" in Hanover. We have never regretted this step. On the contrary, we have put down roots in the meantime.


What do you appreciate about the region?

The people here have really won us over in their way. The relationships you forge here are sustainable, reliable and based on trust. I like that very much, just like the region itself. We have everything that is important to us and that we need close by here. Well, except for the carnival - the local representative of this beautiful tradition, for example in Linden, is still on our to-do list.


What makes the region interesting for you professionally?

Hanover is one of our four major bases for the insurance sector, along with Cologne, Munich and Frankfurt/Stuttgart. The Northern Region, which we serve from here, stretches from Berlin to Münster and from Kiel via Hamburg to Göttingen. The size of the area alone makes this riding highly exciting from a technical point of view. There are the most diverse sizes, mentalities and challenges that we have to adapt to when auditing and advising these companies. It is this diversity that makes our profession so exciting.


Which target group do you address?

Our target group is insurance companies, pension funds, pension funds, provident funds, support funds, insurance brokers, underwriters and, last but not least, InsurTech's - in other words, all companies that deal with insurance services in any form are served by my colleagues and me. We have built up experience in this area over several decades and understand what makes our clients tick.


What specialist topic do you stand for and what relevance does it have for the companies in the region?

As an auditor, I am responsible in particular for the annual audits of the companies, but also for everything that is related to this right and left. In the area of insurance, we look at our clients holistically and have built up a relationship of trust with them (lat. from mandare = to entrust) with our expertise as auditors. With this expertise and trust, we also want to support them beyond the classical audit in dealing with a wide range of challenges.


What challenges do the companies in your region face and how can KPMG support them?

Insurance is always a future-oriented business. In this respect, especially the companies involved in pension provision and family protection think many years ahead, that is their business model.

This means they face two major challenges: on the one hand, coping with the low-interest environment - keyword: investments and pension benefits - and on the other hand, adapting the business model to the developments around digitalisation. In addition, there is another special challenge in this predominantly state-supervised market segment: meeting ever new regulatory requirements. One of these regulatory requirements affects us ourselves: Due to the new external rotation obligation, we have to hand over long-standing audit mandates, especially in our region.

However, the expertise gained in the audits and the experience and skills of our staff enable us to offer our clients real added value in advisory services as well. Among other things, we help them cope with regulatory requirements, introduce new accounting systems, increase their efficiency and performance, digitally transform their business models, and we assist them with transactions and valuation issues.


Why is KPMG the Clear Choice for companies in your region?

For one, our approach is designed for sustainability. We want to serve our clients at all stages of their corporate life - which can be sometimes more and sometimes less intensive. We view the relationships with all our clients as long-term partnerships.

Moreover, KPMG is a multidisciplinary firm. Almost every day I am amazed at how broadly diversified the experience and skills of the ei