Thoughts from the ASHK 4th General Insurance Virtual Seminar

Mark Wylie, Head of Actuarial & Reserving P&C Asia – Swiss Re, delves into his experience and key learnings from attending the Actuarial Society of Hong Kong’s (ASHK) fourth General Insurance Virtual Seminar, held on 9 & 16 July.

Overall, what was your favourite session?

For me, I felt the panel discussion on ‘Preparing for Change’ was my favourite overall. Hearing from non-actuarial roles on the need for change, particularly the issues that COVID-19 raised for the industry, is as important for actuaries as any of the more technical discussions. Being able to understand our internal stakeholders’ concerns gives us great insights into the way actuaries can direct our skills to best add value to our companies, the insurance industry and ultimately to the end customers. A lot of what was discussed had probably been ‘in the pipeline’ for some time but COVID-19 had accelerated the thinking on the need for the industry to change processes in the digital age. There was also quite an interesting discussion on policy coverage and exclusions which should bring up some challenges for pricing, reserving and reinsurance actuaries in the near future.

‘Preparing for Change’ panelists (from left): Jonathon Ko, Chelsea Jiang, Andy Souter, Xinmei Zheng and Simon Lam.

What were some of your key learnings at the event overall?

Telematics is still a great idea but with limited traction to date. I recall at the end of the 1990s when I was a motor underwriter investigating telematics solutions with limited interest from our brokers. It still surprises me how much research investment is being made without a real breakthrough. Simon Tam’s advice on programming for actuaries was very timely as my own unit in Asia is rapidly transitioning to coded approaches to our standard reporting and his suggestions will be invaluable.

Simon Lam, Executive Director (General Business) at Insurance Authority, was the keynote speaker. What was your key takeaway from Simon’s address?

In advance of the meeting, I was really keen to hear from Simon. During the session, I was very excited to hear Simon speak about the commitment of the Insurance Authority to reinvigorate Hong Kong as a global insurance hub. I came away very confident that the Authority has a solid plan to achieve this through captives, reinsurance, ILS and its closeness to the mainland Chinese market (both internally and for offshore risks).

Keynote speaker, Simon Lam, presenting at the ASHK 4th General Insurance Seminar.

The event program also consisted of a vast array of industry experts. Which expert captured your attention and what was their message?

The variety of technology solutions really captured my attention. I think that might be because I’m a bit stuck on excel myself and, although we use R, I was really surprised by the breadth of platforms actuaries are using. The artificial intelligence space is something that was developing faster than I had expected. As a reinsurance actuary I am hoping that Hussain Ahmad’s presentation, ‘Reinsurance – more than just a cap on capital’, was well received by the audience.

When will the next ASHK General Insurance Virtual Seminar be held?

We hold the conference every two years, although this one is a year late due to the pandemic. A great many of our GeneraI Insurance members will still be formally getting together regularly over the coming months and years to discuss the risk-based capital and IFRS17 topics and hopefully the situation in Hong Kong continues (we’ve been quite lucky with low rates of COVID-19 in the community) to allow us to meet informally from time to time.

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