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
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$18.6billion