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Editor's Message

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Jan 2017

2017 has come and not too soon too. What a tumultuous year 2016 was, so bravo to all who survived its trials. It was a hard year as the business climate was in chaos as politics took the front seat and the world went through the shocks of Brexit, a Trump victory, terrorist attacks in urban cities and Aleppo. But we have survived despite the extremely low interest rates, poor investment returns, rising claims, more natural disasters, a warmer world, a mindboggling wave of new cybercrimes and disruptive innovation. 
   To many, technology was the saviour to reduce costs, find new ways of getting clients, offer new streams of business and get more efficient. 
   So what will the hallmark of 2017 be? I am no crystalball gazer, but I believe trust and common sense must prevail. Be the best you can be in what you do and charge the right price for it without letting others browbeat you or force you to compete uneconomically or mindlessly. There is no shame in walking away from a business you are losing money in and take pride in charging the right price for what you believe you are offering as better than others. This must be the guiding principle for all good solid businesses in 2017 given the vagaries of change haunting us all.
   For us at Asia Insurance Review, we realise that insurance is a tough business. Despite its long history, it still has not found the right way of telling its unique story to the buying public. So our aim for 2017 is to help the industry find its voice in the wider world beyond just risk managers and brokers. It is about restoring customer conviction in the promise to pay.
   To this end, technology and digital media have a big role to play, especially if insurers embrace them enthusiastically as friends. So in this issue, we have a big spread on the FinTech Festival held in Singapore last November, to which many governments the world over sent intelligent observers. It was a major event even for insurers as, among others, MAS had identified more than 30 problem statements in insurance to seek tech solutions. This is a watershed moment for the industry in digital insurance. Carpe Diem!
   Taking that a notch higher, our flagship Asia CEO Insurance Summit co-organised with the global think tank, The Geneva Association, in February will have the theme: “Organised Chaos – Leading in a World of Speed, InsurTech & Social” and will look for a New Deal for Insurance. So mark your dates now – 21-22 February.
   To get into the nitty-gritties of preparing for the New Year, we bring you insights from experts and practitioners in the field on the goldmines and landmines in 2017. Always be on the alert as we in Asia always believe that in every crisis, there is opportunity. The glass is always filled…even if there is only just one drop left.
   Our highlight in January is the India Rendezvous now in its 10th annual run with some 650 delegates. Our Country Profile on India highlights the ingredients for a vibrant insurance industry – fast-growing economy, a dynamic and supportive regulator, a government that walks the talk, a huge latent potential customer base, and the list goes on. 
   And having done a pilgrimage in India last month in its second poorest state, I am awestruck by the amazing balance of the Indian mindset that gives locals fearless optimism: no matter how dark the day, how bleak the path, fret not as the good times are a-coming surely. Salutary lessons in humility and hope for all.
   We have a bumper issue, including an incisive Guest Editorial on the big squeeze in the P&C market of Asia and an exclusive interview with a global CEO with the reminder not to be complacent in the life market despite a booming Asia. We also touch on seeing good in regulatory changes; the new CRO brigade in insurance; the spiel on global consumer behavioural trends in life insurance; how ASEAN is trying to come together as a community even in insurance; and 10 key questions in cyber risk insurance.
   Lastly, we keep the flag flying high for life agents even in an era of digital disruption with a spread on our inaugural Agent of the Year, the legendary Ms Agassi Wang. Watch this space for the launch of our 2nd Asia Trusted Agents Awards.
   Happy New Year to all! And early Lunar New Year greetings with the rooster soon to be upon us.
Sivam Subramaniam
Asia Insurance Review
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