After more than 30 years in various loss adjusting and management roles in the UK and the international business, I had the good fortune to be appointed interim CEO of Sedgwick’s Asia operations. I’ve known since the age of 17 that I wanted to be a loss adjuster, but I couldn’t have imagined then that my work would take me from my native UK to the other side of the world. This position has afforded me the opportunity to explore new (to me) and exciting countries, client relationships and aspects of the claims business.
Here, I will highlight four meaningful lessons that have been reinforced for me during my tenure as Sedgwick’s CEO for Asia.
1. Differences matter
Many in the West tend to view Asia as one monolithic unit, but like any other part of the world, there are regional and national idiosyncrasies. Sedgwick owns operations in nine Asian countries, with affiliate partners in several others; each geography has its own distinct language (or languages), currency, governance structures, cultures, work practices and market nuances that must be appreciated and respected. To paint them all with a broad brush does them a disservice and limits one’s ability to effectively serve Asia’s diverse and dynamic needs.
2. Relationships trump contracts
In Asia, more than in any other region where I’ve worked, business relationships make all the difference. Customers here have very high expectations for service and quality, and when it matters most, they seek out skilled professionals they trust to meet their standards for excellence.
While claim assignments in many parts of the world are largely tied to contracts and insurance panels, the Asia market in particular rewards those who invest in developing long-term, collaborative relationships. Clients prefer to work with partners who respect the local culture, take the time to listen carefully, and thoroughly understand their unique business challenges. Having passionate and experienced leaders with well-established relationships throughout the region is a cornerstone of Sedgwick’s success in Asia.
3. One size doesn’t always fit all
While there are many best practices from across our international operations that we’re working to bring to the Asia market to improve our offerings and customer experience, it’s important that each be considered in the appropriate local context. For example, Sedgwick has a wealth of expertise in responding to catastrophic events as part of the annual Atlantic hurricane season. Asia experiences similar weather systems known as typhoons that also cause a great deal of structural damage and flooding. However, due to the low propensity for domestic insurance in parts of Asia, typhoons do not typically produce the same surge in residential property claims as Atlantic hurricanes. Thus, our CAT response playbook has been adapted for Asia to focus more on commercial insurers and their policyholders.
On the other hand, many of Sedgwick’s global specialties naturally translate well to Asia:
- Not surprisingly, there is a huge marine market across the region. The top 10 busiest container ports in the world are in Asia, and the spectacle of ships waiting to dock in Singapore is a sight in itself. With this level of activity, our global expertise in hull and machinery can be useful in filling a gap in the market.
- With so many of the world’s goods produced in China and other parts of Asia, manufacturers here face the constant threat of product recalls and related risks; our team of global brand protection experts can help.
- Additionally, offshore wind power is growing fast in Japan, Taiwan and other parts of the continent. Sedgwick recently launched a UK-based specialty practice focused on the power and energy sector, and we are exploring opportunities to leverage that expertise in Asia.
4. Today’s workforce craves growth
Amid a tumultuous labor market, employers in Asia — and in the insurance industry in particular — are struggling to attract and retain talent. Employees today are continually looking to take on new challenges and learn new skills; those who feel they can’t achieve their career aspirations at their current organisations are likely to pursue development opportunities elsewhere.
As part of our commitment to colleagues’ career growth, Sedgwick recently launched our award-winning Pathfinder development programmes in Asia. Pathfinder is designed to support colleagues in realising their career aspirations without ever having to look outside the business — whether it’s developing from entry-level claims handling, gaining technical excellence, completing their academic studies, working on major and complex losses, or transitioning into leadership. The programmes enable mobility across different business functions, so colleagues can continue to be challenged and grow within the organisation. Investments in such initiatives are critical to workforce retention, businesses’ long-term sustainability and the capacity to properly meet clients’ needs.
I, too, look forward to progressing in my personal growth journey as I continue learning the ins and outs of the Asia market as interim CEO. You can be sure that our talented Sedgwick team of 600 experts across Asia is here for you: watching trends, sharing ideas, offering support, bringing you the best of our global and local resources, and imagining what’s next. If we can be of service to you or your organisation, please reach out and contact me.