News C-Suite 28 Feb 2018

Asia:Role of CEOs is to create "new legacy"

28 Feb 2018

The role of the insurance CEO today is to create new legacy, and this comes down to bringing in the right talent and building a conducive work environment, said Mr Chris Wei, Executive Chairman for Asia & FPI, and Global Chairman, Aviva Digital.

How we think is affected by who is around us; if you’re surrounded by actuaries and underwriters, your thinking won’t change, he added, in his keynote address at the 18th Asia CEO Insurance Summit in Singapore yesterday. In giving serious consideration to evolving one’s business, there is a need for the organisation to re-assess its culture, and have exposure from talent coming from diverse backgrounds and capabilities.

Seguing into the evolution of the talent and work environment in Aviva where today it hires more than 500 data scientists, digital product designers and customer experience architects, he noted: “Culture is just the type of organisation you want to be.”

In a similar vein, MetLife’s Head of Innovation for Asia and LumenLab, Mr Zia Zaman, touched on three key areas – Vision, Experimentation and Culture – in which insurers need to work on to successfully make the leap from one “S curve” to the next.

Elaborating on culture, he emphasised the mindset shift as the most important element for success, as well as the best long-term determinant of shareholder value. Game-changing culture, he added, consists of openness, adaptability, customer inclusiveness and centricity, and good leadership. He also shared MetLife’s experience in developing mindset shifts across the organisation through workshops and bootcamps, which culminated in key traits evident in a learning culture. They are: 1) curiosity; 2) expansivity; 3) experimentality; 4) velocity; and 5) bravery.

Insurance CEOs today also need a different set of skills to navigate the challenges in the digital age successfully. These skills include determination; being socially adept; boldness; being disruptive; and being innovative. But above all, insurance leaders need to possess strong determination, Mr Wei said. “Be resilient, patient, and optimistic that you can actually effect change [in the organisation].”

Mr Zaman concurred that leaders need to set a vision on “where you want to go and be relentless about it” and that this vision must stem from the customers’ experiences.

Both experts made the point that success and the “big innovation” ultimately is less about achieving efficiency than it is about providing a “frictionless” and “seamless” experience for customers as there’s too much opacity within current processes.


The conference, sponsored by MetLife, was organised by Asia Insurance Review and the Geneva Association, and supported by the International Insurance Society (IIS) and the Life Insurance Association of Singapore.

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