One insurance leader believes that getting into insurance was a natural evolution of his career in finance.
Matteo Spadacini (pictured), head of compliance at Generali Asia Regional Office in Hong Kong, shared that he began his career with PwC Consulting in Italy. He worked on various projects such as supporting banks, asset managers and insurers and he found himself enjoying working on insurance.
“Insurance came along as part of my professional development,” he told Insurance Business. “With the evolution of my career, I am now deep-diving into the insurance sector.”
However, Spadacini believes that insurance is still part of the journey, “and not necessarily the end!”
“There is a lot of exchange within financial institutions, such as bank managers going into insurance and vice versa,” he said.
After being based in Milan for five years, Spadacini worked on assignments around Italy and in Luxembourg, followed by a three-month project in New York supporting an Italian asset manager that had an office in the financial capital of the United States.
His work helped him gain experience in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) regulation, which led to being reassigned to Hong Kong as a consultant for Generali, which later hired him full-time.
“Believe it or not, even though Generali is an Italian company and I am Italian, I have never worked for Generali in Italy,” he said. “When I was working in Italy, I always wanted to have international experience and Generali gave me this challenging opportunity which I’m very proud of.”
In his current position, Spadacini juggles vastly different financial regulations and cultures.
“Asia has many different cultures and ways of working,” he said. “Being able to adapt and work with all these colleagues and passing the messages we get from our head office to the local offices is quite the challenge. In the beginning, I had to adjust to working with various people in numerous local offices.”
“As Asian compliance officer, I work with the local compliance officers in different markets such as Indonesia, China, Hong Kong and others,” he continued. “The way you talk with different stakeholders is not the same. You have to be flexible enough to pass the right messages to everybody.”
He noted the differences between Europe and Asia, with the European Union having a relatively unified regulatory regime, with all markets sharing the main concepts and applying them similarly.
“In Asia, this does not apply – the Chinese regulations are different than that of India or Malaysia,” he said. “GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] for example has the same principles all around Europe. But in Asia, China and India’s new cybersecurity laws are different from each other and require data protection standards that are again different from those in place in other countries in the region.”
Spadacini is so immersed in the financial industry, that one would not guess that he was once a ski instructor and licensed lifeguard in his home region of Northern Italy. He is quite an outdoorsman, and he lamented that he hasn’t been able to ski much in Asia, so he returns to Europe’s snowy slopes for the Christmas season.
“Hong Kong is very beautiful for hiking, and I’ve been to the Philippines many times for scuba diving. It’s very nice,” he shared.
However, all these outdoor activities have taken a back seat to his three-month-old daughter, the proud new father said.
Finally, Spadacini offered advice for fellow insurance professionals, especially those new to the industry.
“I strongly suggest younger colleagues work on each and every opportunity you are given,” he said. “There is something to learn from each and every task. Don’t be picky on the activities and do as much as you can. I believe in learning by doing – the more you do, the more you learn and grow.”