;Ironshore’s newly appointed APAC MD outlines the region’s key risk management challenges

The speed of technological change, economic uncertainty and a shortage of skills are the key risk management challenges in Asia, according to Hui Yun Boo, Ironshore’s new Asia Pacific managing director.

“Uncertainty in the world economy will be one of the key risks facing the corporates around the world, as well as in Asia,” Boo told StrategicRISK.

“The Greek debt battle and the slowing economy across the world will have a potentially negative impact on businesses.

“Another prevalent risk facing businesses is the speed of technological change. Harnessed well, technological advancement will boost productivity and increase the competitive edge of corporates.

“Those left behind will risk losing business to their more agile and innovative competitors.”

On the flip side, Boo said, as companies relied more and more on digital capabilities in all areas of their business, the risk of cyber threats in terms of sabotage and data security would grow.

“With increasing cases of cyber attacks, corporations today are beginning to recognise the impact of cyber risks,” she said.

Boo said that the shortage of the right skills and talent was another risk faced by many businesses today, particularly in Asia.

“Broader range of skills and the right mix of talent will be a key success factor for businesses in the future,” she explained.

Key player

Having held various senior management roles at the likes of QBE, ING, and most recently as Asia Pacific CFO for Catlin Singapore, Boo has played a role in the Asian insurance landscape for more than 20 years. 

Discussing the focus of Ironshore in Asia after her appointment, Boo said the firm would continue to build on its presence in the key locations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and the Middle East.

“[We will] harness the synergy and cross collaboration by leveraging on the strength of our presence across the region,” she said.

“We will have more product offerings and continue to focus on niche offerings where we add value through innovation in solving customers’ needs.”

In terms of opportunities for insurers across Asia, Boo pointed towards a growing affluent middle-class who were more “educated and sophisticated”.

“As consumer wealth rises, there is an opportunity to tap the demand for more sophisticated product offerings,” she said.

“Growing Asia Pacific economies and increasing GDP increases commercial insurance exposures in Asia Pacific region.

“It is also a region with high natural catastrophe exposure. These present opportunities for commercial lines premium growth.”

Rethinking models

Boo said changing distribution channels and customer buying behaviours would force insurers to rethink their business models.

“[Insurers must] think collaboration with diverse partners,” she said.

“Think [about] harnessing the digital capability to reach out to the future generation of consumers.”

Boo said that increased regulation reforms alongside merger and acquisition activities were also catalysts for change and would create opportunities in the market place.

In terms of meeting the needs of Asian corporates, Boo suggested the insurance industry should gather a better understanding of client’s changing needs by getting to know the customers through four key methods.

“Technological innovation on data analytics to analyse and better understand our customers; improving operational efficiency to provide better services and consumer experience; utilise thought-leadership and knowledge sharing with customers to help them better understand their business risks; and work as partners in managing client’s risks, such as [the] provision of a risk engineer as a value-add service,” Boo said.