Mr Praveen Daswani, Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) shares the Federation's focus for 2020, the exciting opportunity in the Greater Bay Area, and how advisers can stay relevant.
In 2020, HKFI will continue to act as the voice of the industry. With 137 member companies as of November 2019, the workforce is large and as employees of member companies are also members of the Federation, HKFI serves a huge membership base. So that is the “first and foremost” focus, said Mr Daswani.
Another key objective would be to drive the upskilling of participants in the market space. The Federation has set up a training body to look after the training needs of the industry to ensure that the public has access to quality professional advice in the insurance space, and that advisers and professionals in the industry can continue to develop themselves, he said.
HKFI will continue to enhance policyholders and insurers are protected against insurance fraud. He said: “We’ve set up an insurance claims database with some very prominent individuals in this market to ensure that is fit for purpose. The scope of the claims database will continue to grow, and the idea is to weed out poor actors so those who legitimately look for insurance products get a fair price.”
With an eye on taking the industry forward, the Federation has also set up a think tank – Club 2028. “The only way we can continue to do what we do well is if we continue to train the future leaders of the industry. Club 2028 has been designed to get the younger members of the industry to participate in our work, to look forward, to assess the challenges and to come up with some solutions.”
Great opportunities in Greater Bay Area
On the outlook of the industry, Praveen highlighted the great potential in the Greater Bay Area initiative. Under the Outline Development Plan, Hong Kong is reaffirmed as the national risk management centre, responsible for bolstering cross-border transactions in financial markets and promoting collaborative efforts in cross-boundary Renminbi reinsurance business; supporting joint development by insurance institutions in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao of innovative and cross-boundary motor vehicle and medical insurance products; exploring the development of a trading platform for innovative insurance elements such as international marine insurance; and providing facilitation services such as underwriting, investigation and claims for cross-boundary policyholders.
“If you look at it from an insurance market perspective, we're going to increase the market size by 10 times by incorporating the other jurisdictions in the Greater Bay Area. That's an organic growth of the market that you just wouldn't get in any other way. And there's real potential to be had both from the types of products we offer and the nature in which those products are offered,” he said.
“Essentially, the objective is to have a common market in the Greater Bay Area for the insurance services that we offer, both for insurers here and for insurers and market participants across the Greater Bay Area, which means you'll have exchange of ideas, you will have innovation of products, you will have more sophisticated ways of marketing. This is not just good for Hong Kong, this is not just good for the Greater Bay Area, and it’s also good for the international players who want to come because they can then tap into the wide skill set that will be on offer. And the Federation is the best-placed organisation to aid and assist those firms who want to take part in what will be a very large market.”
Advisers’ role will never go away
As for advisers, he said to continue to fulfil that important role, they have got to adapt with the times. “They have to embrace change. They've got to embrace technology. They've got to upskill their knowledge base. But they've also got to improve their expertise in the areas of their speciality,” he said.
“There's always talk of competition from direct channels. My view is, at the moment, those are still very commoditised products. They serve a very good gap in the market, you can't take that away from them. However, the adviser's role is to provide expertise to specialist needs and specialist requirements. That will never go away,” he concluded.
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