AXA, the insurance and asset management group that operates in 57 countries, has big plans for Asia. In April it announced it had bought 50% of Tian Ping Auto Insurance Company in China, with the goal of integrating AXA’s existing Chinese property and casualty into the company.
More recently, AXA Asia Life CEO Mike Bishop said the company planned to grow in China by buying businesses. We spoke to Shubhro Mitra, Regional HR Officer for AXA Asia to find out what this means for its hiring plans in the region.
What changes to headcount will be made as a result of this decision, and over what time period?
AXA Asia got off to a good start to 2013 with the acquisition of Tian Ping in China, a strong move that places us in a stronger position within the region than ever before. The acquisition provides AXA with direct distribution capabilities and an extensive geographical footprint in the fast growing General Insurance (GI) market in China
As with any acquisition between two companies, there will be further developments over the course of the next few months until at least the end of the year. We do, however, expect tremendous growth in our business, as can be seen already with ICBC-AXA Life and likewise I’m sure with Tian Ping.
At this point, the integration is still under way across our operations in China so we have not finalised specific headcount figures, but given the opportunities in the country we see the China market as a long-term commitment for many years to come.
AXA wants to raise its profile in the wider Asia-Pacific region. Where specifically does it plan to increase its footprint, and where will it hire to support its strategy?
We see bank distribution playing an increasing role for us in Asia. It represents the largest distribution channel in this region and an effective means of expanding our reach. AXA is continuously looking at growing its distribution presence in the region across Life and General Insurance in Malaysia, India, Singapore, China, and Indonesia to name but a few, using both proprietary and non-proprietary distribution channels.
Key partnerships have already been established with banks such as Bank Mandiri in Indonesia, Krung Thai Bank in Thailand, Metrobank in the Philippines, ICBC in China, and HSBC in Hong Kong and Singapore. Working with these partners enables us to use our staff more efficiently, but we will continue to hire new people as appropriate as we continue to grow our presence.
Which particular business operations are you expanding?
We look to grow across all our Life and General Insurance businesses. Health and protection are areas with great potential in Asia and AXA Asia has set aggressive targets to double the size of its regional health business between the end of 2012 and 2015. To deliver this expansion across its eight regional markets, it has actively invested in broadening the range and depth of its product offerings, while simultaneously building and strengthening health-specific capabilities both regionally and locally.
We are also looking to build our commercial business within our General Life business by deploying our specialist expertise.
For which types of jobs are you hiring?
In our industry, acquisitions mean expansion of our business across our distribution channels in line with operations. This of course also spills over to other functional areas like product development, actuarial, finance, HR and IT depending on the level of business needs. Furthermore, organic growth may also drive recruitment depending on the needs and opportunities in each market.
Are you focusing mostly on local hires?
AXA is very committed to striking the best balance in integrating talent management and global mobility, whether we look within the company or externally. We are always on the lookout for local talent with the right experience but we don’t discount talent from abroad either. What is fundamentally key is getting the right person who will contribute to our Asian story – our growth and expansion in the region and our leading position in the industry.