Former Ace property underwriting manager Todd Wilhelm starts first week at QBE Asia Pacific.

QBE Asia Pacific’s chief underwriting officer Shaun Standfield told StrategicRISK today that Wilhelm’s appointment was part of his organisation’s aim to “become a leading specialty insurer in our operating markets in Asia Pacific, focusing on commercial lines and niche personal lines”.

Wilhelm (pictured) was Ace’s property underwriting manager for the Asia-Pacific region for eight years and an account manager with FM Global for the 10 years prior to that.

In addition to this hire, Standfield told SR, QBE has established centres of excellence for underwriting and distribution to leverage its working relationships with intermediaries.

“A broking centre has also been set up in Singapore to access the larger offshore premium pool that flows through that country,” he said. “These key initiatives will help us attain our growth ambition.”

Standfield also indicated in an earlier written statement announcing Wilhelm’s appointment that the Asia Pacific division had been identified as a ‘growth engine’ of the QBE Group.

“We are strengthening our underwriting capability to fully unleash our business potential,” he said.

“With Todd’s extensive experience, we are shaping the best fit-for-purpose team to lead the growth in Asia Pacific.”

His comments echo those made by QBE’s regional head David Fried in a recent interview with StrategicRISK.

Fried said he was confident that what QBE is calling its Asia Pacific Profitable Growth Strategy would see it become “one of the leading multinational non-life insurers” in the region.

Fried is charged with orchestrating QBE’s new strategy for growth in the region, something the insurer is betting on to help kick-start a recovery of its troubled global operations.

Ratings downgrades, profit warnings, goodwill impairments, ongoing operational problems and constrained financial flexibility are all issues that have been faced recently by the QBE Group, which has just reported a loss of $US254 million for the year to December 2013.

Despite these troubles, Fried said that it is “very much business as usual in Asia Pacific and in most of the divisions in QBE”.

“Asia Pacific presented very strong results to the group and I can only say that we continue operating quite positively,” he said.