FWD has appointed a deputy chief investment officer for its fast-expanding asset portfolio, as the Hong Kong-based insurer continues acquiring companies in Asia.

Andreas Hoffmann took up the newly created role late last month, reporting to group CIO Paul Carrett. He has relocated from his previous role in Munich at rival insurer Generali.

Hoffmann will provide depth to the investment team and help oversee FWD's fast-growing assets under management, Carrett told AsianInvestor. The total portfolio, including unit-linked products, has jumped to around $50 billion from $30 billion in June last year. FWD declined to say how much of the total comprised general account assets.

Andreas Hoffmann

At Generali, Hoffmann was most recently head of investment transformation and projects, during the run-off and sale of its German life unit Generali Leben. Prior to that, he had been the Italian insurer's CIO for Germany and previously Milan-based CIO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Hoffmann had been with Generali since 2014; the firm declined to comment on his departure.

Carrett and Hoffmann know each other from when they both worked in Singapore for German insurer Allianz. The latter was based in the city-state from 2008 to 2011. 

REGIONAL BUILDOUT

FWD's asset growth has come on the back of swift regional expansion. The company said on June 19 that it had agreed to buy a "significant" minority stake in PT Asuransi BRI Life, part of PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

Also in June, FWD completed the takeover of Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Indonesian insurance life business, a deal agreed in 2018. 

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, FWD confirmed in April that it was acquiring Vietcombank-Cardif Life Insurance, a joint venture between Vietcombank and BNP Paribas Cardif.  


Paul Carrett

FWD also bought Thailand's SCB Life Assurance last year. The purchase from Siam Commercial Bank for Bt92.7 billion ($2.9 billion at the time) was the largest ever life insurance transaction in Southeast Asia. It also marked the start of a 15-year bancassurance partnership between FWD and SCB.

Separately, FWD is in the process of selling its bancassurance contract with Thailand's TMB Bank to UK insurance firm Prudential.

These deals add to FWD's acquisitions of US insurer MetLife’s Hong Kong business, which completed this week, and of AIG Fuji Life in Japan in 2017.

To cap all this, FWD is targeting expansion into China. It is awaiting approval to operate a majority-owned joint venture there, having applied for a licence last year.

PAN-ASIA AMBITIONS

"We have three big engines of business – Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand – and a rapidly growing business in Southeast Asia," said Carrett.

And Huynh Thanh Phong, FWD's group chief executive, has made no secret of the firm's ambition to build "a leading pan-Asian life insurance platform".

Similarly, groups that already fit this description, such as AIA and Prudential, have developed their investment capabilities as their businesses have grown in recent years. Hong Kong-based AIA acquired Commonwealth Bank of Australia's life insurance business last year.

Insurance is the fastest growing institutional client segment by assets in Asia, according to data from fintech provider Broadridge. Asset managers have accordingly been expanding teams to cover the segment. BlackRock, HSBC Global Asset ManagementInvesco and recently Robeco, have added insurance specialists in Asia in the past two years.