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Munich Re gets busy in Tokyo

The world’s largest re-insurer, Munich Re, is buffing up its Japanese operations.

The German firm opened its first branch office in Tokyo at the end of August on expectations that Japan’s reinsurance market will grow at a rate similar to those in China and India over the next five years, on the back of demand from insurers for diversified services and capital management.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company, which up until now had only had a service center in Tokyo, has a current Japan headcount of 40. It plans to expand that by 10 by the end of 2011.

But are other re-insurers likely to follow suit?

They’ve shown no real signs of doing so yet. Yuichi Kimura, a senior consultant at CDS, says other firms in Japan are either only making modest hires or are still downsizing. “As Munich Re is the biggest re-insurance firm, they are winning the game,” he says.

Yuta Kasai, a consultant covering accountancy and finance at Hays banking, says headcounts across the re-insurance sector are still low, with other firms tending to limit themselves to replacement hiring.

Those that are recruiting are usually open to candidates with experience at life insurance or general insurance companies, says Kasai.

“Many companies also don’t mind candidates from other financial industry sectors like securities firms or banks,” he adds.

Kimura says the recruitment focus for some Japanese firms has been on underwriters and the client relationship side, with talent often being sourced from major insurance houses.

“There is some instability still going on in the insurance market after the AIG shock and candidates are showing more interest in joining a growing sector like re-insurance. It’s easier to attract talent,” he comments.

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