Money Moves

Security in uncertain times

by Grace Chan

William Cotter
senior vice president
Asia, Allied World Assurance Company Ltd
Photo: Nolly Leung

At a time when companies are laying off staff and scaling down operations, one global insurance solutions provider is bucking the trend. Allied world Assurance company, based in Bermuda with offices across the US and Europe, is expanding its operations into Asia.

"Given the uncertainties in the global markets during these difficult times, there is definitely a growing need for insurance protection," says William Cotter, senior vice president, Asia, Allied World Assurance Company Ltd. "We see today's environment as an opportunity and are therefore strengthening our foothold in Asia."

As a first step of this expansion, the company opened a branch office in Hong Kong in March. Mr Cotter explains, "The city is home to many talented professionals, and there's also a firm focus on mainland China here."

With many Chinese firms conducting businesses with companies in the US and Europe, there is a need for international protection for their products.

Allied World targets international brokers, especially those headquartered in Hong Kong and Singapore. Initial offerings include a range of primary and excess professional lines products — insurance solutions particularly relevant to corporate buyers, as well as general casualty products and accident and health products.

Underwriting product liability is one of Allied World Assurance's core business strengths.

"Shareholders, employees, customers, creditors and regulators are increasingly concerned about financial management in difficult times," says Mr Cotter. "Asian companies that are in frequent business contact with Western vendors also need insurance protection for their products."

The company takes pride in its level of flexibility and ability to respond quickly to the market. Mr Cotter notes, "We believe insurance is a promise to pay and when we make a commitment, we'll keep it and deliver it."

He stresses that clients are the company's top priority and that they seek to understand their insurance needs at all times.

"We speak to the brokers before working towards offering insurance solutions. Partnership is more than a win or lose proposition — it is essential to understand the clients' concerns and to find ways of handling them," he emphasises.

The company has a strong team in place and will look to recruit more talented underwriters as demand continues to grow.

Unlike other industry players who tend to outsource their underwriting business and recruit younger professionals, the company currently employs a team of highly experienced experts who possess in-depth knowledge of the Asian insurance market

Over the next year, the company will focus on assessing business opportunities and growing its local workforce to meet the increasing market demand.

Niche market

  • Specialist position in underwriting
  • Keen focus on client relations and insurance solutions
  • Aim to increase headcount and market share

Taken from Career Times 29 May 2009, p. A3
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