Thoughts from our correspondent in Asia
With a vast geographical footprint and one of the fastest-growing regional markets in the world, it’s an exciting time for the insurance industry in Asia Pacific, according to Simon McCrum, RFIB Singapore’s managing director.
And he should know. Simon began his insurance and reinsurance career in Lloyd’s in 1987 before moving to the Guardian Royal Exchange in Hong Kong in 1991. Since then he has held senior positions in Asia and across the Middle East, and joined RFIB last October to head up a brand new strategic team in Singapore to serve Asia-Pac’s emerging markets.
RFIB in Asia
During his career he has seen Singapore become one of the major global insurance markets and a hub for the wider Asia region including Australia and China – rivalling London and the Middle East markets in terms of capacity.
“South East Asia’s emerging markets are in strong growth mode – largely driven by increasing power, rail, road and water infrastructures needed to serve the region’s development – so it was a natural fit for us to have a presence there to focus on these markets which are still not fully penetrated”, says Simon, explaining RFIB’s expansion in the region, that also saw the firm open an office in Hong Kong in March.
A holistic view
Having feet on the ground in Singapore also enables Simon and his team to work closely with colleagues in Dubai and London and take a much more holistic view which lets them access the market best suited to their clients’ needs.
“With a number of customers looking for alternatives to the London market because of difficult market conditions across certain lines of business, RFIB Singapore has been able to help colleagues in London and Dubai find alternative markets for premium placement thanks to the nimble and agile reach of our international teams”, says Simon.
Nonetheless, there are still business and cultural challenges to be faced in Asia-Pac. “People tend to lump Asia into one box but every single country is different”, explains Simon. “The challenge is to understand each country, who controls it, who drives the businesses, and what the regulations are. In emerging markets it is even more crucial to understand that landscape and who is connected to who. Personal relationships take a long time to build up and these are always very important.”
The independent alternative
Unsurprisingly, nurturing long-standing relationships and creating new ones are at the heart of RFIB’s business model. “We offer a truly independent way in to the major international insurance hubs for local brokers and local insurers who have a need to access that capacity”, says Simon, “and the fact that we offer a credible and independent alternative has been incredibly well received by our customers. We are looking forward to fully cementing our presence in Asia, and being able to demonstrate our capabilities to an ever wider market.”