Mark Mitchell tells SR that the plan is to “move more experts closer to clients”

Speaking exclusively to StrategicRISK in Taiwan last week, the new regional head of Allianz Global Corporate Specialty (AGCS) Mark Mitchell singled out Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam as countries of particular strategic interest to the insurer.

“Indonesia and Vietnam for infrastructure reasons are very interesting for us,” he said.

“Many of our global clients are also trying to expand their global operations into Myanmar. A lot of them are already there.”

Mitchell added that AGCS had applied for a representative office licence in Myanmar and that he expected that process to be completed before the end of the year.

“Down the road if the market liberalises, then it mighty be an opportunity for us to get an insurance licence, but at this point we’re just trying to follow our global clients overseas,” he explained.

The former head of Hong Kong and Greater China said that AGCS in APAC had “been a bit of growth story” in 2014.

“Our business in Asia has grown by 40% and Greater China has grown by 60%, so the focus is very much on trying to continue that growth momentum,” he said.

“Infrastructure spending in Asia is continuing to rise, with demand for power, water, roads and rail.

“Places like China, we’re seeing a very significant increase in the demand for infrastructure insurance, both property and construction.”

Cyber and reputation

New products were on the rise as well, Mitchell said.

“We have introduced new products over the course of the last couple of years; cyber is one, reputation is another.

“We entered the project BI space 12 months ago, and we started being more active in product recall and environmental liability.

“These are niche market products that either didn’t exist in the market or that we weren’t selling in this part of the world until recent times.”

Mitchell said the plan now was to “move more experts closer to clients”.

“AGCS is a relatively new business in this part of the world, we’ve only been here for six years and globally only for eight years,” he explained.

“When we first started, we ran a centralised model because we didn’t have the scale to be able to put experts in all of our locations across Asia.

“Now that we’ve gained some scale, particularly this year, we’re able to afford to be able to move our experts closer to clients.”

This has already occurred in Hong Kong and mainland China, with AGCS risk consulting, engineering and property experts moving into these markets, Mitchell said.

Contractors from China, Japan and South Korea were becoming more active outside of Asia, he added.

“We’re seeing them go towards the Middle East, South America and Africa, tracking to some extent the lending that’s taking place by their governments,” Mitchell said.

“International insurance programmes are becoming more prevalent as Asian companies are investing heavily overseas, and that’s a trend that we expect to see continue.

“In the past, when Asian companies have expanded overseas they’ve tended to buy their insurance on a decentralised basis. If they bought an asset in Australia they would buy insurance in Australia.

“What we are trying to sell them is a centralised programme out of China or Japan or Hong Kong that meets their needs globally.”

Difficult to predict

Mitchell also indicated that his firm was “keeping close eye on natural catastrophes”.

“These events are very difficult to predict and to manage,” he said.

“We can only manage them with the right kinds of data, so our demand for better data are increasing.

“Insurers are asking for more information about those types of risks and, with increased awareness across the region, clients are getting better at providing that information.”