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Richard Holloway joins panel of judges in the Insurance Asia Awards 2021

Millman’s South-East Asia managing director believes that markets are showing signs of recovery despite the decline in new business sales during the pandemic.

Richard is the Managing Director of Milliman’s South East Asia and India, life consulting businesses, in Singapore. He joined the firm in 2010 and has been a consultant in the region since 1995. Richard was on the Milliman, Inc.’s board of directors from 2017 till 2020. Before Milliman, he spent 23 years with Watson Wyatt wherein he held various leadership roles, such as country head for all businesses in India, leading the regional insurance consulting business, and was also part of the Global Management Team. 

Richard, well known for his role in pioneering the insurance consulting market in India, has worked on over 400 assignments in that market since 1997.

As one of the judges in Insurance Asia Awards 2021, Richard sat down with us to share some of his insights about the status of the insurance industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the industry is responding to these changes. 

Can you share with us your work experience or any backstory that has contributed to your professional career?

I’ve been a consultant in Asia since I moved to the region in 1995, when the consulting industry in many countries was nascent. Before joining Milliman in 2010, I spent nearly 16 years leading the insurance consulting practice at my previous firm. In my time in Asia, I have been fortunate to have been involved in many of the high-profile merger and acquisition assignments in the region, in addition to many other actuarial and strategic projects. 

During this time, I have also been the Appointed Actuary for several international insurers and reinsurance firms. All of these helped me build a deep and unique perspective of the various markets in the region and how they have evolved. Support for the actuarial community has featured highly, with me taking active roles in the Singapore Actuarial Society and the Institute of Actuaries of India.

How are insurers dealing with the current pandemic; and what have been the notable challenges? Are insurers struggling to keep up with claims and absorbing losses? What has changed with the behavior and interest of customers? How are insurers responding to these new needs and expectations to drive growth? 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the various restrictions imposed because of it, clearly forced everyone to quickly relook at their business plans, processes, and client value propositions. Whilst new business sales declined in all markets immediately after the start of the pandemic, in many markets, there have already been signs of recovery. In Singapore, for example, overall new business volumes in 2020 (measured by Annualised Premium Equivalent) fell by just 2%. Larger companies and multinationals that have been able to utilise their digital capability and processes have rebounded the fastest. Some of the more traditional companies that are perhaps less digitally enabled are taking longer to rebound.

Now, over 18 months since the start of the pandemic, in many markets there is continued uncertainty on how long the insurance industry will be impacted. We can be certain that many companies already have or will be re-thinking their medium-term plans and even their long-term business model and strategy. Larger, well-established companies that have greater capital and resources are usually better placed to sustain disruptions. Smaller and medium-sized companies that haven’t been able to adapt quickly may be challenged for much longer periods. 

The impact of a longer period of disruption can sometimes have a longer impact than merely the period of the disruption or its immediate aftermath. From a consumer’s perspective, there is an increased awareness of risk from both their personal experiences of COVID-19 and what they read about in the media. This, in turn, leads to an increased demand for specific types of insurance products, with the recent emergence of health insurance protection products. Whilst judging the awards, I have been impressed with the creative and innovative product development and marketing that has emerged in response to the pandemic.

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