The insurance industry is in a state of constant flux with new technologies to harness and risks to insure emerging left and right. These present an endless stream of challenges for all insurance leaders, including Bob Thaker (pictured), CEO of DirectAsia Insurance Singapore.
Before joining the insurance industry, Thaker worked in consulting, where he found himself enjoying working with insurance clients.
“I joined Hiscox in 2010, as I was blown away by the ethos of the business, where doing right by the customer is paramount – it just felt right,” he told Insurance Business. “I have also been fortunate to have travelled a diverse path across Hiscox from the strategy team, risk function, claims and then over to DirectAsia, following the acquisition of the business by Hiscox, where I have learned a huge amount in operations, and now as CEO.”
According to Thaker, during his time in the UK with Hiscox and in Singapore with DirectAsia, dealing with claims – which he believes is the raison d’être for the industry – has always been the most unforgettable part of the experience.
“In many situations, I’ve seen how the teams go above and beyond to help customers, or as we do here in DirectAsia, to settle claims rapidly which have always been met with joy and gratitude. This is a genuine source of pride for us and surprise for our customers.”
In reality, dealing with claims and running an insurance company is much easier said than done. According to Thaker, the list of challenges he has to deal with as an insurance professional and CEO are endless.
“Of course we face the constant, continuous evolution of our market to which we try to keep pace; there is rarely an industry conference or gathering during which digital, automation, AI, etc. are not mentioned,” he said.
However, he stressed that the key challenges of the insurance industry remain with people – both insurance professionals and customers.
“As a digital disruptor, DirectAsia is a fun, dynamic, fast paced place to work; nevertheless, we still believe in traditional values of integrity, hard work, and being straightforward,” he said. “Marrying these values with courage, innovation, and inspiration remains a challenge for leaders, but we communicate constantly across the team to develop a culture that links tradition with forward thinking. At the very heart of this culture is a clear objective to wow our customers and we ask ourselves daily how to improve every aspect of the business to do so.”
Thaker shared that he loves tinkering with mechanical stuff and, as a self-proclaimed petrol head, he would most likely be working in a messy garage with cars and motorbikes had he not found his way into insurance. It is perhaps this affinity to solving mechanical problems that led to his passion in finding new ways to keep up with the constant evolution of the insurance industry.
Finally, Thaker gave his advice for his peers in the industry: “Stay humble and hungry,” he said. “None of us have all the answers so remain humble and listen to the people around you. Be open to challenge and feedback so that you constantly learn and take risks with your career – you never know where it may lead!”