Former CFO at Amplifon
Ugo has over 12 years experience in the hearing aid industry. He joined Amplifon, the largest independent hearing aids retailer globally, in 2005 as CFO of their North American business. In 2007 Ugo was promoted to the role of global CFO of Amplifon, a role which he held for over 10 years until 2017. He is currently Chief Staff Officer of Italian fashion group Benetton, where he oversees finance and accounting, IT, HR, RE development and centralised purchasing. Read moreView Profile Page
Could you talk to us about the nature of the problem that hearing aid customers experience and what that means for the way in which hearing aid products are developed and sold?
Talking about hearing loss is a pretty broad subject because you can have a child born with genetic hearing problems, who is in a small minority, but it’s a very complex pathology to deal with, particularly with implants. The vast majority of hearing loss is age related and is where hearing aids come into play. Then in between that, some pathology might develop through exposure to accidental explosions. Even an airbag explosion can cause permanent problems, but again these are the minority.
When we talk about the hearing aid industry in big numbers, we are considering the pathology that normally starts from the 60s and then continues with ageing. It’s a gradual deterioration. You could even say the word ‘pathology’ isn’t accurate; it’s more a simple ageing process where, as you start using reading glasses and gaining grey hair, you also start at a certain point in life needing help with your hearing.
This is not accepted by the vast majority of people and the stigma of showing that they need to use a hearing aid has also shifted. That’s still something that needs to be overcome by the industry and by people in general, because they could be addressing this situation earlier with better results.
Ageing hearing loss can be very different because it could be a problem related with the cells in the cochlea, but it can also be a conductive hearing loss where the smaller bones are creating problems. It could even be the eardrum or a combination of these factors. In this situation, it’s fundamental to have an expert, an audiologist that is assessing the situation, understanding where the cause is and providing the appropriate hearing aid because depending on which part of your ear has the biggest problem, you will have a different technical solution.