Upgrading insurance talent

Newly established association aims to promote higher standards and the modernization of the city’s insurance sector. The president of Macau Insurance Industry Professionals Association, Ivan Cheung, calls for more openness and exchanges with top-level experts from outside of Macau to upgrade the city’s local professionals. 

It was born out of a sense of need to promote higher professional standards and an upgrade of the professionals working in the SAR’s insurance sector. The Macau Insurance Professionals Association (MIIPA) was established in November with a focus on nurturing local talents and promoting professional training of insurance professionals.

“Our purpose is to help develop local insurance industry experts and professionals, including accountants, auditors, actuarial analysts and senior managers”, said Ivan Cheung, the founding president of MIIPA, who is also Fidelidade Macau’s general manager, in an interview with Macau Business.

“We are short of skilled and properly chartered professionals.”

With over three decades of experience working in the region’s insurance industry, Mr Cheung has witnessed the city’s rapid economic development and with it a pressing demand for skilled professionals in the fields related to the insurance sector.    

“We are short of skilled and properly chartered insurance professionals. That’s why we need to invite people from outside,” he notes.

In face of the lack of certain skilled manpower and service providers, Ivan Cheung makes the case for bringing to Macau experienced professionals both for training programmes and working here, something that requires a more open approach by local authorities. “We hope in the future the Government can make it easier to import these professionals so they can share their expertise with the local staff.” 

In fact, Ivan Cheung points out that MIIPA’s overall goals “are in line with the Government’s objective of fostering local talents and stimulating the modernization of the city’s financial services.” 

Upgrade is a key word in this respect. And to attain that aim, “more local professionals will need to take examinations” from internationally renowned certified institutions from countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom, Ivan Cheung notes. “It’s important to promote more talent with knowledge in the different areas.”  

A case in point in terms of lack of certain Macau-based chartered professionals is the 

absence in Macau of professional adjusters, who play a key role as they assess the amount of loss experienced by the policyholder, and then determine how much their insurance company should pay for that loss. This means Macau insurers need to resort to Hong Kong to get professional service in this area.

“We hope in the future the Government can make it easier to import these professionals.”

The way forward to take the city’s insurance industry to a higher level implies an articulation among a range of professionals related to the sector, such as agents, accountants, auditors, actuaries, adjusters alongside those in the legal and banking sectors. “We need to enhance cooperation at all these levels,” Ivan Cheung stressed, and that is also why they invited these different kinds of professionals to join MIIPA. “Stronger ties with the banking and legal sectors will be helpful for the different industries and the whole economy and society,” he adds. 

A priority for the coming year will be holding a series of seminars, workshops and conferences with top-level experts from outside of Macau as guest speakers. 

Pandemic highlights challenges 

The COVID-19 crisis brought new challenges to individuals and firms that will “need to become more aware of the risks they face,” as “they need to reconsider their protection.” 

Whereas in Europe, for example, the industry is feeling the pinch of the losses resulting from event cancellations, as some large-scale events are insured against epidemics or pandemics, in Macau the situation is less worrying, as the main potential source of loss derives from business interruption insurance coverage, which is usually provided in combination with property insurance.

At MIIPA’s maiden conference, held on November 20 in tandem with the association’s inauguration, Ivan Cheung said the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has had a negative impact on the industry as there has been a decrease in new life insurance policies, due to reduced interpersonal contact, while, “delayed premium payments and client insolvencies may further add pressure.” 

On the other hand, he pointed to positive developments, such as an enhanced sense of social responsibility of insurers by offering new insurance covers and establishing green channels for claims alongside new tools for conducting key processes online.