After a period of slowing down, China’s insurance industry is on the upswing again. Measures announced last year to liberalise the country’s US$40 trillion financial sector included plans to raise caps on foreign ownership in China’s life insurers and other financial entities, eventually scrapping limits entirely. While expansion of market shares for foreign players is a long way off, China’s insurance industry already has seen significant change since 2017. Recent “New Measures” enhance curbs on shareholdings in insurance companies. And in a streamlining exercise, regulators for the banking and insurance sectors have merged, purportedly to clarify responsibilities and end cross-regulation glitches.
To control wayward elements in the industry, more stringent regulatory policies have been imposed on asset liability management (ALM), corporate governance, solvency and accounting standards, among other aspects – testing domestic insurers, asset managers and other financial institutions. How they adapt to this changing environment will determine their future operations, profitability and ambitions.
Digital technology is another potent force moulding the insurance industry, driving companies to innovate in products and services – to the benefit of customers. For China’s technology giants, this is a huge domestic opportunity where they would clearly lead foreign rivals. How will they retain their edge? How can insurers raise their competitive ability in this strict environment?
The FT China Insurance Summit: Reshaping a resurgent industry is the second in the series. It will bring together leading insurers, asset managers and technology experts from China and overseas to discuss the best strategies to compete in the digital era, and benefit from a planned easing of the financial sector, even as much-needed curbs are imposed on unruly elements in the insurance industry.
* Simultaneous interpretation will be provided at the summit.