In Asia, we are seen as the fastest-growing insurance market but at the present we are also seen as the softest market, with double-digit percentage decreases in pricing in recent years.
A competitive market has impacted us in Hong Kong and this year many of our global, local and niche insurance firms have been through some sort of restructure. Redundancies have also been all too regular, happening throughout the year and still looming over the market -- speculation continues to be rife about upcoming further redundancy waves.
In the latter part of 2016, we saw a few new insurers set up in Hong Kong and receive their license. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions (Swiss Re International SE Hong Kong branch), led by ex-Lloyd's country manager Dylan Bryant is one of them. Another two new markets emerged under ex-Chubb leadership -- Aaron Yip and Jon Doherty are at the helm of Berkley Insurance Asia and the Navigator's Insurance Group Asian office in Hong Kong, respectively.
Looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, we can expect more companies entering the market too. Nine Merchants Re is waiting on its licence to be granted to begin operations. But the Munich Re announcement that it is likely to move its Hong Kong offices to the regional hub in Beijing came as a surprise and shows how tough the market can be.
Business will remain very competitive here in Hong Kong but recent figures show that we can expect a small uplift in gross written premium for 2016 -- around 6%, as predicted by Swiss Re recently. People do seem more upbeat in 2017 and, as innovation remains high on the agenda, we can expect a very interesting year ahead. Cyber is a hot topic for most insurers and brokers and that product alone is expected to jump by 50% this year, a recent AIG Asia-Pacific study predicts.
Asia does continue to thrive as a whole and Hong Kong is still a key insurance hub within the region. The talent here is developing well and with local knowledge being key to most business, overseas moves into the market seems to be less and less common compared to recent years.
Elliot Steen is a consultant in broking, claims and underwriting at Eames Consulting Group
For more information on the Chartered Insurance Institute Hong Kong visit: bit.ly/2ld1KrJ