Prudential Corporation Asia (PCA) has named a chief investment officer for Taiwan, continuing its push to put CIOs in each of its major markets in the region amid a group-wide revamp. 

Will Chen took up the role in Taipei this month at the Asian arm of British life insurer Prudential, which is reorganising its business internationally, with more changes expected as it spins off its Asian and US operations from its UK business. 

Chen was previously Hong Kong CIO at rival insurer FWD, where he has been succeeded by Jethro Goodchild, formerly head of Asia credit at Aviva Investors, as first reported by AsianInvestor.

Jimmy Chen was previously head of investments at Prudential Taiwan but has left the post, according to two sources. This follows the pattern Prudential has followed in other markets in the region, where heads of investment have been replaced by more autonomous CIOs

Prudential is ranked 12th in Taiwan by market share of new life business by premium, according to its half-year results released in August this year. It sold its Taiwan agency business to Taipei-based China Life in 2009 and now distributes products through strategic partnerships such as its tie-up with Standard Chartered Bank.

Taipei: Will Chen's new
location (Photo: WiNG, from
Wikimedia Commons)

Contacted late on Friday, PCA – which had £84.4 billion ($108 billion) in assets in the region at end-2017 – said Will Chen's hire was part of its focus on building out its Taiwan investment capabilities. But the spokeswoman could not immediately confirm Jimmy Chen's departure, and she said the insurer did not break out its assets under management by country.

Will Chen had been at Hong Kong-based FWD since March 2012, before which he was fixed income portfolio manager at ING Investment Management. FWD had previously been ING’s Hong Kong, Macau and Thai insurance business. Chen has also worked at Oppenheimer Funds.

The hire follows other big recent hires in Asia’s insurance industry in recent months, including Mark Wang moving to HSBC Insurance from NTUC Income and Benjamin Deng joining China Pacific Insurance from AIA. 

PRUDENTIAL'S ASIA PUSH

Chen's arrival also continues a trend at PCA. Since the start of last year the firm has named CIOs for Singapore (Lena Teoh joined in January 2017), Hong Kong (Ben Rudd in February 2017), Malaysia (Esther Ong in August 2017) and Indonesia (Novi Imelda in February this year). It also installed Stephan van Vliet as Asia-Pacific CIO in May 2017. 

Also reflecting its regional buildout, Eastspring Investments, PCA's asset management arm, acquired 65% of Thailand's TMB Asset Management in July this year, adding to its presence in Southeast Asia.

Elsewhere, PCA is prioritising China expansion for both its insurance and asset management businesses, chief executive Nic Nicandrou told AsianInvestor in May this year. It aims to make its mainland business larger than the one in Hong Kong within a few years.

Nicandrou pointed out that China was the third biggest life market in the world but remained highly under-penetrated. Insurance penetration, or the value of insurance policies as a percentage of GDP, is estimated to be 2.3%, while the government is targeting 5% by 2020.