7 Questions for RGA’s Carmony Wong
Risk & Insurance editor-in-chief Dan Reynolds recently got the chance to pose some questions to Carmony Wong, who was named senior vice president, Southeast Asia markets & chief executive officer, Hong Kong, Reinsurance Group of America Inc. (RGA) in May of 2023.
Wong was part of the RGA Leaders of Tomorrow program in 2019 in association with the International Insurance Society, the Pacific Insurance Conference and the Global Insurance Forum. This year’s Global Insurance Forum will take place November 5 to 7.
Risk & Insurance: What would you say are the key business opportunities for RGA in the next 12 to 24 months?
Carmony Wong: There are many favorable forces driving demand for RGA’s solutions — solutions that help clients find new and better ways to reach consumers, meet their changing needs and underwrite products in a more efficient and effective manner. There is also increasing demand to help our clients better manage their risk and capital needs. I believe we are very well positioned to seize these opportunities.
In the Asia market specifically, we are seeing opportunities for our Asia traditional and Asia asset-intensive business. There is a strong economic recovery that is driving demand for new products, and we see strong momentum in all of our businesses in the region.
Our financial growth has been fueled by both traditional reinsurance and financial solutions, leading to significant premium, profit and NBEV growth over the last decade, even in the face of headwinds from COVID lockdowns in recent years. This momentum is expected to continue as we focus our efforts on demonstrating reinsurance value with combined underwriting, pricing, product development and financial solutions for our clients, capturing growth opportunities in the current favorable market environment.
R&I: How are predictive analytics playing a role in RGA achieving its business goals?
CW: For years, we have been leveraging data to build sophisticated predictive models, and that has sharpened mortality and morbidity forecasting, strengthened pricing development, and enhanced underwriting and claims assessment capabilities. As the amount of available data increases, that can also lead to more complexity. We see it as our role to help clients develop and apply the innovative tools and techniques needed to manage this complexity and simplify insurance for consumers.
We believe predictive analytics and machine learning will be an important part of the business. For instance, it could replace some low-level manual work and let people focus on more sophisticated tasks, and it could be incorporated into reinsurance solutions to streamline some of the insurance onboarding processes.
R&I: What are the chief challenges you face as a business leader in the coming year?
CW: Adapting to a new role and additional leadership will be a challenge, but one I am excited to face. I am also excited to deepen my relationships with both my internal colleagues and external clients. One challenge that is top of mind is attracting and retaining the right talent, supporting our employees and making sure they are challenged and given the opportunities to grow in their careers.
R&I: What most excites you about this position?
CW: I’m very excited to be leading our efforts in the Southeast Asia region. I’m getting to know new clients and colleagues, and reconnecting with those I worked with in prior roles. I am looking forward to connecting with people at a deeper level so I can understand their passion for their work and provide them with the right opportunities to achieve their career aspirations.
It also inspires me that the work we are doing to develop effective reinsurance solutions is impacting millions of lives. The Hong Kong and Southeast Asia markets are dynamic and in various stages of development, but there is great opportunity to leverage a lot of the solutions and learnings from one country to another.
R&I: How does your involvement with the RGA Leaders of Tomorrow program feed your appreciation of this industry?
CW: The RGA Leaders of Tomorrow program allowed me to learn from colleagues from around the world and gain expanded perspectives on the various challenges and issues we are facing in the industry. As a life and health reinsurer, RGA is at the tail end of one of the value chain. Joining the program helped me see the bigger picture for the whole insurance ecosystem.
In addition, the program gave me the opportunity to interact with senior leaders in the insurance industry — discussing the macro challenges facing the industry and exchanging ideas to tackle industry-wide problems.
R&I: What must the industry get right to recruit, train and retain the business leaders of tomorrow?
CW: To attract and retain talented leaders, we must work to keep our colleagues engaged and motivated by offering an inclusive and satisfying work environment, as well as equity in career advancement and educational opportunities. It is important to provide room for employees’ professional as well as personal growth.
R&I: Change is happening quickly and new risks are always appearing. How can the insurance industry stay relevant given the pace of change that we are seeing?
CW: Ultimately, I believe change will help to keep our products and solutions in demand. Our clients will continue to need guidance and support as they adjust to whatever may lie ahead. Whether that’s new regulations, market shifts or emerging technologies, we will be by their side listening to them, identifying their needs and seeking collaborative, creative solutions.
To do that, we will need to prioritize staying ahead of the curve and have the vision to drive change. We will also need to focus on the areas that RGA is best suited to support. In other words, we will need to pick our sweet spots.
Despite celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2023, I still see RGA as a very young company, rather than a mature one. We focus on continuous growth, expansion and innovation. We’re determined to be relevant to the reinsurance industry, always. That means becoming our clients’ trusted partner and developing solutions that not only drive strategic value for them and for RGA, but also make a meaningful impact on our communities and the future. &