“Mitigating Risks and Serving the Underserved “
Winnie Wong’s leadership in insurance has catapulted her companies to achieve record high top and bottom line growth in the last four years
Winnie Wong is the CEO and Executive Director of Asia Insurance Company Limited, and Avo Insurance Company Limited. She joined Asia Insurance over five years ago, led the company to great success and has headed Avo Insurance since its establishment in 2019, the first virtual general insurance company in Hong Kong, where she currently leads her 300 strong colleagues in both companies.
The two companies she runs are similar in that they offer insurance but are vastly different from one another.
Asia Insurance ─ 60 Years and Growing Stronger
Asia Insurance ─ a composite insurance company ─ has a track record of over 60 years and is one of the Top 10 general insurers in Hong Kong. The company, which has an “A” rating from Standard & Poor’s, is the insurer and risk management partner of choice for individual and corporate clients in markets where they operate. It is this long-term and stable partnership with agents and brokers that makes the insurer the trusted choice for clients.
Asia Insurance prides itself for its diversified portfolio. Its clients include individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, local corporates, government and multinational companies.
Most of the businesses are from external intermediaries, but they also serve thousands of agents and brokers and work with many different corporate partners including banks and life insurance companies. Additionally, they have a strong reinsurance business portfolio, underwriting risks from all over the world.
Asia Insurance has done exceedingly well for itself, thanks to Winnie when she began helming the company over five years ago. Despite facing intense market competition and unprecedented challenges, Asia Insurance managed to achieve a record high growth in top line turnover and bottom line profit in the last four consecutive years.
Resolving Customer Pain Points through Avo Insurance
Avo Insurance is a lot younger. Founded in 2019, it is the first virtual general insurance company in Hong Kong that provides straight-forward digital insurance to customers via online platforms. Most of the insurance products launched by Avo are also the first of its kind in HK or even in the whole world.
Because Winnie observed that most customers consider insurance as complicated and expensive, she started Avo to offer more affordable and accessible coverage to younger and tech savvy B2C and B2B2C customers, including the underserved segments.
Milestones achieved by both companies
For Asia Insurance, achievements include:
Attaining a record-high turnover in premium growth for four consecutive years from 2018 to 2021. Winnie says she achieved this by developing many new business channels, sources, brokers and agents in both direct and reinsurance business, including new life insurance partners, some banking distribution channels, plus new and old agents and brokers.
She also developed and strengthened top level relationships with banks and life insurance partners, developed transparent data analytics through their data visualisation project to facilitate more data-driven decision-making, kick-started the Digital Transformation journey by up-grading their system infrastructure and revamped their Management Trainee programme for more systemic training and retention of young talent.
For Avo Insurance, achievements include:
Obtaining an additional insurer license to launch the first virtual general insurance company in HK in 2019 and quickly building a capable team from scratch with all key functions, policies, and systems in place.
She defined the key business Vision, Mission, Values and Business Strategies and steered the start-up on a three-pronged strategy for achieving sustainable growth.
At the same time, she launched numerous insurance products to bridge insurance gaps and serve the underserved segments and completed the first round of fund-raising to build a solid capital base for further growth.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
There have been some uphill moments of course. Winnie concedes that running a mature business with over 60 years’ history is a challenge. “Being customer-centric, we needed to address the changing needs and expectations of our customers who now expected a much quicker turnaround time. We also needed to evolve and innovate on an on-going basis in order to stay ahead of the market and be relevant.”
With this in mind, Winnie built up her team’s can-do attitude and growth mindset and shaped a new culture that had drive, energy and passion. She did this by inspiring and empowering her teammates to overcome challenges by providing encouragement and unfailing support. She ensured colleagues were happy at work because she believes, “If they are keen to do their best, then business will come and clients will stay.”
Changing with Innovative Solutions
Winnie initiated “Innovation Challenge” to encourage colleagues to brainstorm new ideas and business processes and products.
While she introduced various tech solutions and partnerships at the newer virtual insurance company, she embarked on a Digital Transformation journey for the older Asia Insurance.
Says Winnie: “We developed a huge digital transformation roadmap, and the learning at our digital startup Avo, enabled us to modernise our traditional insurance business. We learnt from mistakes and grew our organisation by utilising more digitalised solutions to meet the expectations of our customers.”
“Apart from running thriving insurance companies simultaneously, Winnie Wong also features regularly at industry conferences. This perfectly encapsulates her personality and leadership, as she not only ensures business success, but also gives back to the community at large to see collective success.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group