Q&A: Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ Vanessa Priede

September 17 2021 by Andrew Tjaardstra
Vanessa Priede 2

InsuranceAsia News (IAN) recently caught up with Vanessa Priede, international programs operations manager, APAC at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Melbourne-based Priede discussed some of the challenges facing multinationals in the region and the appetite for companies to expand abroad during Covid-19.

IAN: What are some of the key regulatory hurdles and challenges in managing the insurance programs of a multinational?

Priede: For corporates and multinational organisations, keeping abreast of the latest regulatory requirements can be a challenge. Trade negotiations and changing financial standards and economic conditions continually alter the local compliance landscape. This makes it important and also challenging for corporates to keep their pulse on the changing regulatory requirements in markets they are present in, especially given their general focus on overall risk management strategy and corresponding lack of local regulatory expertise.

This is where working with a team of experienced international program managers who collaborate with a network of local partners that have been carefully selected for their complementary experience and capabilities, as we do at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, can be helpful. Each market has unique requirements and a one-size-fits all approach will not work.

For example, earlier this year, as we were auditing the international program of a multinational manufacturing company, we found that the commercial insurance policy for one of its branches in South-East Asia was misaligned with the local regulatory requirements. If the company had been discovered to be in breach of local requirements, they would have faced a severe penalty from the authorities and a loss of reputation but, as a result of working with an experienced International Programs team like ours, they were able to avoid running into trouble.

IAN: Businesses in Singapore are looking to expand internationally despite the pandemic – how and where are they looking to do this?

Preide: According to the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) National Business Survey (NBS) 2019-2020, eight in 10 businesses reported a presence in an overseas market in 2019, up nine percentage points compared to the previous year. Additionally, as many as 82% of these businesses are engaged in South-East Asia, where Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are prime destinations. Outside of the region, China is the top location.

In the past year, despite the pandemic, we have seen these trends continue in certain sectors, including food manufacturing, property development, and F&B. For example, we have seen companies in the food manufacturing sector looking to expand their catering operations in markets such as India and Saudi Arabia.

We have also seen property development firms continuing with their expansion plans to establish more REITS and/or purchasing properties outside of Singapore, either in South-East Asia, across Asia Pacific, or even beyond these locations. Mapletree Industrial Trust, for example, has recently announced its intent for a US$1.32 billion acquisition of 29 data centres in the US.

In F&B, advancements in technology and the rising prevalence of e-commerce have also catalysed the expansion of Singapore firms, with many F&B players and retail brands enhancing their digital presence and fulfilment capabilities, not just locally but regionally. F&B companies selling packaged products, for instance, are now leveraging e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10 to enable overseas purchases rather than relying solely on local distribution networks.

A customer, whom we have been working with and headquartered in Singapore, has expanded its global footprint by establishing partnerships that would meet its strategic objectives. To benefit from the low-cost manufacturing capabilities in China and certain South-East Asian markets, the company works with partners to manufacture its products. In order to make these products available to consumers in the Americas, the company collaborates with partners for warehousing its products.

IAN: How are international businesses improving their risk management capabilities as a result of the pandemic?

Priede: The pandemic has introduced added complexity into business operations. Now, on top of usual profit-loss considerations, there is increased pressure on businesses to also consider regulatory developments and supply chain risks amongst other things.

The ability to reduce complexity is therefore vital for risk managers. As tools are built into international programs insurance solutions to help reduce complexity for customers, these solutions become increasingly beneficial to international businesses looking to improve their risk management capabilities. They are designed to deliver efficiency gains, compliance assurance, increased transparency and control, and improved customer service.

For example, in compliance assurance, an insurance partner with international programs capabilities provides access to local expertise and a local network to optimise the handling of exposure and risk information, so that the business can be confident of reliable and compliant coverage.

IAN: What are some of latest technological developments for international programs?

Priede: While not entirely new, at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, we have developed a customer portal which we call PULSE, which allows businesses and their brokers to monitor and manage their multinational insurance program from a central location.

This includes monitoring and managing their insurance program, reviewing their policy issuance and premium payment status as well as download policies, invoices and other necessary documents.

PULSE also facilitate claims services – allowing customers to download their claims documents and analyse their loss history, in addition to submitting and tracking loss notifications from any location in real time.

The portal offers access to Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ risk engineering services, with engineers on hand to provide advice as necessary. Customers can monitor their risk exposures and improvement measures anywhere around the world and obtain site visit reports and risk improvement reports.

In addition, the portal possesses Swiss Re’s CatNet® tool, allowing customers to access and monitor their exposure to natural hazards worldwide. This includes real-time natural catastrophe event notifications.

Soon, push notifications will be launched on the portal. This will allow customers and brokers to receive personalised notifications of status changes and other updates to their program, policies, claims, and risk engineering services. Through this integrated technology platform which we call PULSE, the key objective is to help customers reduce complexity, ultimately enabling growth.

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