Generali International’s plans for Singapore were revealed by International Adviser earlier this year, in a profile of the operation’s head, Debbie Le Noury. Le Noury told IA that the company had applied for a branch licence in Singapore back in September 2010, and had submitted its three products – Vision, Choice and Professional Portfolio – for approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Humphryes has been with Generali International since 2003, when he left what was then Scottish Provident International in Hong Kong to join Generali’s Hong Kong operations, then headed by Nick Griffin, who is now based in Guernsey and heads up international sales there.
The company has had an office in Hong Kong since 1985.
Generali Int’l gains in Asia
A recent study of some 120 financial advisers, wealth managers and private banks in Asia ex-Japan/Australia earlier this year, by Singapore-based NMG Consulting, found that Generali had around a 6% share of the market’s new business annual premium equivalent, up from 5% in 2010.
Generali’s new offices in Singapore are located in the Tung Centre on Collyer Quay, opposite Marina Bay and close to Battery Road, where a number of other multi-national insurers have their offices.
Generali International’s parent is Assicurazioni Generali, a publicly-traded insurance giant based in Italy. In recent years, the international operation’s focus has broadened from its UK expatriate origins, and it has begun to build a business targeting specific local markets, including Hong Kong, according to Bryan Low, a partner with Acuity Consultants and an expert on the offshore life industry.
It is not alone in this, he added, noting that such other companies as Friends Provident International have also set up Singapore operations in recent years.
“There has been a trend among the cross-border life companies, which have seen success in places like Hong Kong, to want to expand into other jurisdictions and to become regulated in these jurisdictions at the local level."
Generali’s move into Singapore, Low added, “is good news in terms of the industry becoming more mature” .
Origins as Phoenix Int’l
Generali International’s origins date back to 1977, when it was known as Phoenix International Life Assurance Co, becoming Sun Alliance International in 1986.
According to Low, it is the last significant offshore life company still located in Guernsey.
Vietnam market targeted
A separate Asian arm of the Generali Group, meanwhile, has gone live with a new website aimed at Vietnamese clients, following its having been granted a preliminary licence in October by the Ministry of Finance in Hanoi to operate in Vietnam. According to the website, which is in both English and Vietnamese, it is marketing group term life, medical and disability products.
In a press release announcing its having been granted the licence to operate in Vietnam, Generali noted that the country is “one of Asia’s most promising markets”, with its population of more than 85 million, average age of 27, average 8% GDP growth and a 15% increase in insurance premiums in 2009.
The launching of the Vietnamese operation brings the number of Asian markets in which Generali operates to eight, after China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan, Generali said.