Charg­ing Ahead With Gusto

SINCE HIS AP­POINT­MENT AS CEO OF QBE IN­SURANCE MALAYSIA IN 2014, MR LEO ZANO­LINI HAS HAD A TREMEN­DOUS TASK OF TAK­ING THE COM­PANY’S BUSI­NESS GROWTH TO NEW HEIGHTS WHILE MEET­ING THE MAR­KET NEEDS. MII SITS DOWN WITH THE HEAD HON­CHO TO TALK ABOUT QBE’S STRATEG

Insurance - - CONTENTS -

QCan you share with us your back­ground and how did in­surance be­come a ca­reer for you?

Like many, I got into the in­dus­try by chance and not de­sign. Dur­ing my last year of stud­ies at the univer­sity in Brazil, a few of the multi­na­tional com­pa­nies were ad­ver­tis­ing the grad­u­ate trainee pro­gramme. One of them was an in­ter­na­tional bank­ing com­pany with a di­ver­si­fied port­fo­lio which had re­cently started oper­a­tions in Brazil. My ini­tial thought was this might be a com­pany worth join­ing as it may open the doors to an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. Af­ter go­ing through the lengthy se­lec­tion process, I was pretty con­fi­dent that they were go­ing to al­lo­cate me to the trea­sury, as­set man­age­ment or cor­po­rate bank­ing de­part­ment be­cause I al­ready had some ex­pe­ri­ence in the bank­ing as­pect. But lo and be­hold, some se­nior man­agers in the in­surance line must have liked me some­how and pushed me to join the in­surance divi­sion.

My heart sank! I thought I was join­ing a bank. It was not what I wanted. But dur­ing the first day of ori­en­ta­tion, the CEO came to ad­dress and wel­come us with a pre­sen­ta­tion. He shared some de­tails about the com­pany and I no­ticed that while the in­surance busi­ness was a small com­po­nent of over­all rev­enue con­tri­bu­tion, it was grow­ing faster than some of the other main lines. That piqued my in­ter­est! I saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to en­ter a line of busi­ness that shows great po­ten­tial for growth and de­vel­op­ment. I started smelling a good op­por­tu­nity for a ca­reer then. Well, 15 years and five coun­tries later, I think I was right.

QWhat are your big­gest achieve­ment since then?

Per­son­ally speak­ing, it’s just be­ing able to con­trib­ute to the growth of the in­dus­try, to the dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies that I worked with, and to be able to help pro­vide risk man­age­ment ser­vices and peace of mind to our clients. I think th­ese are the no­ble as­pects of in­surance that are some­times not recog­nised.

In­surance com­pa­nies have a role in so­ci­ety, which is to pro­vide sta­bil­ity and tran­quil­lity to the clients that buy it. Be­ing an in­surance pro­fes­sional, I like to see and think that there is a good to so­ci­ety that in­sur­ers can pro­vide. I wouldn’t say this is a per­sonal goal or achieve­ment, but a sen­ti­ment of con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety by pro­vid­ing a ser­vice that al­lows peo­ple to pros­per busi­nesses and for so­ci­ety to func­tion with less volatil­ity.

QGiven your ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in var­i­ous coun­tries. How do you see the Malaysian in­surance en­vi­ron­ment com­pared to in­ter­na­tional?

The Malaysian in­surance en­vi­ron­ment is still grow­ing with a lot to of­fer. The lo­cal in­dus­try of­fers a di­verse ar­ray of so­lu­tions and in many ways, it pro­vides cus­tomers with op­tions to choose from. It’s also a very com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment that has some of the big­gest names in the in­surance present. It em­braces moder­nity; we can see a lot of de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place in the country that will pros­per and pro­pel the in­dus­try even fur­ther. So, the Malaysian in­surance in­dus­try is a very mod­ern and vi­brant mar­ket with a lot yet to grow and a lot of po­ten­tials yet to be ex­plored. I wouldn’t put this as a flaw by any means, I’d say that com­par­ing to a lot of the other de­vel­op­ing na­tions, Malaysia is ahead of the pack.

QCan you share with us what is in the pipe­line for QBE this year? What are your plans?

Our strat­egy re­mains with the same vi­sion for the last few years. We’re all part of the Asia Pa­cific re­gion of QBE Group, which is part of the Emerg­ing Mar­kets Divi­sion. We’re guided by what we call the Asia Pa­cific Prof­itable Growth Strat­egy, where our in­ten­tion is to grow prof­itably in many of the mar­kets we’re rep­re­sented across the re­gion. Of course, this strat­egy is un­der­pinned by some spe­cific ar­eas that we be­lieve we can make a dif­fer­ence, bring strengths and of­fer a lot of op­tions for the mar­ket. We fo­cus pri­mar­ily on the cor­po­rate spe­cialty line. If you look at the avail­able statis­tics, you’ll see that QBE has driven a very re­silient growth over the last few years in li­a­bil­ity classes, engi­neer­ing, ma­rine and the cor­po­rate as­pects of prop­erty in­surance. We of­fer many other prod­uct lines but if you look at the mar­ket share and growth dy­nam­ics, we’ve been en­joy­ing strong­est growth in the ar­eas where we can be dif­fer­en­ti­ated and be ex­perts on.

In­surance com­pa­nies have a role in so­ci­ety, which is to pro­vide sta­bil­ity and tran­quil­lity to the clients that buy it.

drive de­mand and pen­e­tra­tion rate, and this will also en­cour­age pro­fes­sion­al­ism. It’s an in­evitable ad­vance and a new chap­ter of the Malaysian in­surance scene, one that QBE em­braces and sup­ports. We see this pos­i­tively.

QIn re­gards to dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, can you share about the in­dus­try’s ini­tia­tives mov­ing for­ward?

Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments is an ir­rev­o­ca­ble trend in dif­fer­ent seg­ments of the econ­omy. In many as­pects of our day-to­day, we use tech­nol­ogy. In the in­surance in­dus­try, it’s un­de­ni­able that tech­nol­ogy will al­ways play an in­cre­men­tal role. The dif­fer­ence that I see be­tween the in­surance busi­ness and a lot of the other in­dus­tries is that ours is an in­dus­try where clients ben­e­fit from an ex­pert’s ad­vice to make sure they’re buy­ing the so­lu­tion that fits into their needs and ad­e­quate to the pro­tec­tion that the in­di­vid­ual or com­pany re­quires.

Now, that’s not to say that tech­nol­ogy doesn’t have a role to play; it can be used to help drive ef­fi­ciency and fulfilment where clients can now get pol­icy ser­vice more quickly and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion at his/her fin­ger­tips. So, all th­ese trends will aid the in­surance in­dus­try to be­come closer to our cus­tomers and to en­able our trusted in­ter­me­di­aries to max­imise their out­put in ad­vis­ing the cus­tomers. I wouldn’t think tech­nol­ogy in the in­surance is a re­place­ment of the hu­man com­po­nent but it’s an en­abler of fur­ther growth and bet­ter ser­vice to be pro­vided by agents, bro­kers and com­pa­nies alike.

QPeo­ple are the most valu­able as­sets of a com­pany, what is QBE do­ing to sup­port this?

In QBE, Cus­tomer Value Propo­si­tion is at the cen­tre of how we op­er­ate and why we op­er­ate. To sup­port our Cus­tomer Value Propo­si­tion, QBE has the Em­ployer Value Propo­si­tion and the two philoso­phies work to­gether. In QBE, we have dif­fer­ent ways in which we do that. We con­duct dif­fer­ent ca­reer pro­grammes in recog­ni­tion of our tal­ents and give them paths to grow their ca­reers with us in­clud­ing ac­cess to re­gional en­coun­ters with other tal­ents in a truly multi-na­tional en­vi­ron­ment.

We strive to cre­ate a cul­ture that our peo­ple want to be a part of one that is in­clu­sive, per­for­mance-based and ap­pre­ci­ates the di­ver­sity of our work­force. We recog­nise and re­ward suc­cess through a num­ber of mean­ing ways.

QBE also in­vest heav­ily in train­ing our staff, whether it’s tech­ni­cal or sales train­ing, we al­ways en­cour­age our team to be­come a big­ger ex­pert than they al­ready are in their cho­sen ar­eas. Our Group has in­tro­duced the QBE Un­der­writ­ing Academy last year that helps our cur­rent and aspir­ing un­der­writ­ers to de­velop the skills and ex­per­tise they will re­quire to suc­ceed in a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. We’re also very in­volved in the PIAM’s GIIFT pro­gramme and open to re­ceive th­ese ca­pa­ble in­terns. There are a lot of ta­lent here in Malaysia and QBE is ex­cited to be part of the growth.

We strive to cre­ate a cul­ture that our peo­ple want to be a part of one that is in­clu­sive, per­for­mance-based and ap­pre­ci­ates the di­ver­sity of our work­force.

QBE HAS MAR­KET CAP­I­TAL­I­SA­TION OF A$18.6

bil­lion

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