Jan 19, 2012

The rise of reinsurers in China

By Jing Yan

According to a report by Aon Benfield, aggregate reinsurance premiums in China almost have grown more than 70 per cent compared with five years ago. Many global reinsurers are busy drumming up market share in China.

Swiss re tower the rise of reinsurers
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Swiss Re Tower

Moreover, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission has included a national natural disaster risk transfer programme, as well as the improvement of loss models and underlying data in their most recent five-year plan. The reinsurance market is expected to grow rapidly and this will generate jobs.

Competition between foreign and Chinese reinsurers, as well as the need for localisation, are two important themes in the job market. Munich Re and Swiss Re are the biggest foreign insurers in China and both are putting increasing importance on campus hiring. Each year they choose the brightest graduates from top universities like Tsinghua and Peking universities and provide training for them to develop their careers.

One of the advantages of foreign reinsurers in China is their global reach and product innovation. Long periods of working in a specific sector of reinsurance, for example agriculture, can give employees exposure to different risk solutions. However, recruiters advise not to change jobs too frequently because you have to maintain a thorough knowledge of your industry.

“Do not to change jobs too frequently because you have to maintain a thorough knowledge of your industry.”

Foreign reinsurers are speeding up the localisation of their headcounts, but not for all jobs. For example, CFOs may be recruited from overseas because these type of senior-level roles demand international experience and an understanding of the latest regulations and policy changes. There are also foreigners working in underwriting and technical jobs, but locals are needed for client-facing positions.

Like many other businesses in China, reinsurance companies emphasise their ability to communicate with local customers and regulators. A manager from one reinsurance company, who asked not to be named, says along with language problems, foreign candidates for client-facing roles lack the necessary understanding of Chinese culture.