IT’S all about making the right focus, Mark Lwin says, when asked about AIG Philippines and the direction it is now taking. Lwin is the president and chief executive officer of AIG Philippines Insurance Inc. This Burmese-American CEO certainly knows a thing or two about focus. He once served as an officer in the US Marine Corps for a time before embarking on a different career in the corporate world. His task for AIG Philippines, he says, is to help the company re-focus its business.
“We opt to go into both commercial and consumer business, but we have certain focus areas in those submarkets.” He sums up AIG Philippines now as “we’re not an all things to all people insurer, and our goal is to be very focused on where our global strength and capabilities lie, and take what will bring value here in the Philippines.”
What this translates to, according to Lwin, is that for commercial insurance, where there are needs for technical or large capacity risks that they can insure, or in the consumer side where there are niches that are looking for innovation, new products, new services to their customers.
There are focus areas and niches that AIG is very actively engaged in, he says. Ultimately, the goal for AIG is about being an innovative insurer by capturing the strength of their global capabilities and bringing them here to the Philippines. Certainly, rebuilding the brand is not an easy task, especially when one takes into account what its mother company has been through in recent years, including its most difficult period in the US subprime mortgage crisis, and the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008.
American International Group Inc. (AIG) is a leading international insurance organization with more than 88 million customers and is present in more than 130 countries. Its companies around the world serve commercial, institutional, and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property-casualty networks of any insurer.
The AIG companies are also leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States. Its corporate headquarters is in New York, its British headquarters is in London, while its Asian headquarters is in Hong Kong. Although an American company, it was actually founded in Shanghai, China in 1919. Currently, the company serves 98 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, and insures 40 percent of Forbes 400 richest Americans. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
In the Philippines, the company traces its operations way back in the 1920s. Known then as American international Underwriters (Phils.), it was incorporated on May 3, 1928 as a managing agent for several American insurance companies. On April 5, 1960, the Philippine American Accident Insurance Co. Inc. was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Then in 2009, the company became part of American International Underwriters (AIU), which is the foreign general insurance segment of AIG. In mid-2011, additional capital worth P300 million ($7 million) was infused, making AIG Philippines one of the highest paid-up capital in the non-life insurance industry. The company also says it paid up a total of P685 million ($16 million) in claims in 2011.
Despite AIG having such a “colorful” past, Lwin says they are now again looking at exciting times ahead. “We’re focused on tomorrow,” he says, as he pointed out that AIG Philippines in 2013 was ranked as the 8th largest general insurer.
He expects the growth to come especially from some of their newer product lines such as “CyberEdge,” which is a comprehensive risk management solution for cyber insurance. This solution provides innovative protection to help businesses safeguard against sensitive data breaches (personal and corporate data), computer hacking, employee sabotage or error, pilferage of information, computer viruses, security failures, and identity theft, among others.
Having been appointed CEO in 2013, Lwin is currently assessing his first year, and says he is satisfied that his initial goals were met. On his second year, he declares that AIG will become more aggressive than before, including aiming for a higher public profile, to reach out to more customers.
“It’s about refocusing our business in certain areas where we have true core competencies that sets us apart from the other local players.” He adds: “We are on the offensive, on the attack, rather than defensive, which is where I like to be as a CEO and as a leader—on the attack, growing and expanding.”
Tough words coming from the CEO of a company that is slowly and surely trying to rebuild its stable footing. Those are also the very same words their millions of customers are happy to hear, and Lwin says he is there precisely, to make it happen.