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Insurance CFOs in Asia need to step up to the challenge of their expanding role
With the changing market landscape and growing complexity of risks for the insurance industry, CFOs need to play an expanded, strategic and more active role in running their organisations and work as effective partners to their CEOs
Saying that the role of the CFO has undergone significant transformation, Mr David Fried, Regional CEO of Allianz Asia Pacific, urged CFOs to move away from routine administrative functions and focus more on the strategic issues of the business.
"A CFO has to emerge as a change-driver, an effective partner and collaborator that his CEO and the rest of the organisation expect of him," he said, comparing the role of a "future-year"
Dr Huang Tien-Mu, Director General, Insurance Bureau of Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission, said that an insurance supervisor expects CFOs to build a sound financial system for their company and plan and promote its sustainable and healthy growth, taking into account the risk characteristics of both asset and liability. "I would like to see CFOs build more professional skills and focus not only on financial performance, but also on the creation of new value through contributing to the risk management process for example, and to communicate with relevant parties."
He said that there will be more expectations of the CFO function, noting the rapidly growing "universe" of the role. "From the perspective of a regulator, I certainly look forward to strengthening communication and cooperation with insurance CFOs in the future so as to promote a healthy growth of the market and towards protection of the policyholders."
Mr Chris Wei, Group CEO of Great Eastern Holdings, said that the role of the CFO today starts with the ability to communicate and to communicate well. "Other skills are important, of course. But as you get more senior in the role, the ability to communicate is critical."
Meanwhile, the industry's outsourced assets, which currently stand at US$1.5-$2.0 trillion globally, are expected to grow by $1 trillion over the next five years, with persistent low-interest rate environment, increased capital requirements, changing demographics and growing government debts impacting insurers and driving their outsourcing trends, said Mr Matt Malloy, Managing Director, Head of Global Insurance Solutions at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
He said that the insurance general account assets exceed $20 trillion globally, out of which around $1.5 to $2.0 trillion is managed by third parties. These assets are 75%-80% concentrated in life companies, and are diversified by region, with the Americas representing the most significant level of market penetration and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) having approximately 10% of assets and expected to grow by 25% annually over the next five years. There is less visibility into Asia, though Mr Malloy noted that recent asset outsourcing activity in the region has been meaningful.
Organised by Asia Insurance Review with Ernst & Young, the two-day conference attracted more than 150 delegates from 22 countries and was sponsored by RGA, J. P. Morgan Asset Management and Singapore College of Insurance
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About Asia Insurance Review
Asia Insurance Review, hailed by market leaders as the “Voice of Asia”, is the premier professional regional journal committed to serving the insurance industry with informative editorial on Asia, on-the-spot updates and technical conferences to support the industry’s march towards higher standards and greater professionalism.
With entrenched support from the market, it is the official magazine of the leading industry events in Asia, especially the East Asian Insurance Congress and Singapore International Reinsurance Conference. Its value-added services to the region include hosting technical conferences, industry directories, daily online newsletters and organising the Asia Insurance Industry Awards.