November brings little relief still. The global political and economic milieu is so tough that businesses can only be positive and look past the present to the future. Disruptive technology provides a reprieve for better days ahead and gives insurers a chance to think afresh with new business models.
All eyes are on Asia that offers the best growth opportunities these days both for the big and small boys in insurance.
The 28th EAIC in Macau ended with a jubilant call for customer-centricity to give insurance a future. Macau did the EAIC proud and hosted a laudable Congress where hot issues were tackled in packed rooms despite the distractions of organised networking for the renewals.
The life sessions with the huge prospects offered in healthcare, ageing demographics and closing the protection gaps were better attended than the general sessions that looked at natural disasters and reaching out to the masses. Cyber was a big hit given the emphatic growth in cybercrimes and interest in blockchain and data security.
As for the forthcoming renewals, there are still worries over innocent capacity and newcomers and relationship underwriting over technical issues. How much lower can the rates go is anybody’s guess, though the common refrain is that current rates are unsustainable. And reinsurers are beginning to look at commissions and cost control, given the increasing natural disasters in the region and the lower ROEs. Some are also venturing into the direct market. There is a sense of new opportunities in business deep in November when the renewals lead to better dialogue and better understanding of clients’ needs and wants from a risk management and risk profile perspective, including even in personal lines.
With regulations still being seen as a priority challenge for CEOs, this month’s IAIS Annual Conference in Asuncion, so far away in Paraguay, will still have great bearing on insurers in Asia talking about RBC, RegTech and what not. Regulators and supervisors do hold the key to open sesame for the insurance business locally in each market. But how many are actually using them and how many are on the side of the industry in protecting policyholders? But moving around meeting regulators in Asia, you know that they care for the industry and are there to help you even if you sometimes end up with lectures about not being digital enough or ironically get nagged at for being overly cyber-exposed.
The world is changing so rapidly that even regulators cannot hold the tide. Do read our Guest Editorial from IAIS Sec-Gen on the momentum building up within the regulatory community. Let the light shine on.
This month is also the AIC and the Asean Insurance Summit in Yogyakarta. The prospects are great, but there is a dire need for a good strong insurance lobby within AEC. Insurance can be one of the early winners given its importance in any regional economic development especially in trade and shipping.
Our country profile this month is on Vietnam, an exciting market that is drawing foreign attention even as it promisingly aspires towards being a tiger.
This November, we come packed with a host of other features, including microinsurance in Sri Lanka; defensive disruption in life insurance and pensions; the dire threat of cyber as a risk without borders; all about being resilient in Nat CATs; getting takaful to focus on Gen Y; the need for new insurance products for the agricultural sector; making a risk management play on start-ups and the depressing investment era.
Our Cover Story is on the 20th Asia Insurance Industry Awards where we shine the light on the 15 winners for the rest to follow. The Awards is our CSR to the industry as they help raise the bar for all. But it is the winners who carry the baton of the future of the Awards. They have to set the standards. So we have to relentlessly monitor their every step for the next 12 months. I make a special mention to Fubon Holdings as this is the first time that a Group has won both the Life and the General Insurer of the Year Award. History has been made and incidentally Fubon also walked away with the Life Insurer of the Year in our inaugural Asia Trusted Agents and Advisers Awards in July.
Here’s to an effective renewal for all.