Avid sportsman scores life goal with insurance career

This professional began his 15-year insurance career almost on a whim, but he’s never looked back

Avid sportsman scores life goal with insurance career

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

“I never thought I’d enjoy insurance as much as I have,” Alexander Liu says about his career. “And I’d have never thought I’d still be in insurance 15 years later.”

Liu, vice president of professional liability at Allied World based in Singapore, recently spoke with Insurance Business and shared his insurance journey.

Liu’s parents were both bankers with Citi Group, which led to him moving around a lot in his early life. Born in Hong Kong, he and his family moved to New York, then later to Australia, where he graduated from university.

“I saw this magazine advertisement which said that the successful candidate will be sent overseas between six months and a year,” Liu says about his first job. “When I saw that, I didn’t care what job it was, but I wanted to go overseas.”

That job happened to be with Royal and SunAlliance, and he was sent to spend a year in Chicago – a year he described as one of the best of his life.

Upon returning to Australia, Liu planned to transfer to banking, but he enjoyed insurance too much and never made the shift.

“One of the main reasons why I like what we do in insurance is you get to mix with so many people from different backgrounds, different thought processes, and different businesses,” he says.

He then entered graduate school at the University of New South Wales, and it was there where he met his wife-to-be. After getting married, they decided to move back to Asia, first to Hong Kong, where he spent two years working for Royal and SunAlliance, before moving to his wife’s home country of Singapore to work at Allied World.

Liu is a huge sports enthusiast, who once dreamed of being a professional football player. When not in the office, he plays football twice a week, having recently joined a recreational football league for people over 35 (which he admits was a slight hit to his ego). If not playing, he watches football, especially matches involving his favourite English Premier League club Chelsea FC.

He is also into running and golf, and his sporting claim to fame is that he was part of the Australian indoor lacrosse team that competed in the world championship in 2003.

Aside from sports, Liu’s other major passion is helping people – both insurance professionals and the general public – learn more about insurance.

“It’s up to us in the industry to be proud of what we do and to educate people,” he says. He believes that many people, especially in Asia, have a misguided view about insurance, considering it a “grudge buy.”

Some people approach insurance as something to be used, he says. But he thinks it should be the opposite.

“You don’t want to buy insurance so you can use it,” he says. “It’s there in case something happens.”

Within the industry, Liu stresses the importance of mentorship – especially for those just starting out.

“We don’t do a good job mentoring insurance professionals into the market,” he laments. This leads to the talent pool, especially in Asia, lacking depth.

Having spent 15 years in the industry, Liu has this advice for young insurance professionals.

“Think in the long term,” he says. “Don’t worry too much about the income you’re taking home versus finding a good company that can teach you more.”

Once young professionals have a solid foundation, their careers will take off, he says.

“I stayed in my first company for eight years,” he notes. “I had plenty of opportunities to jump ship, but for me, all the learning that I got, as well as all the opportunities to try, learn, and make mistakes in a safe environment was more valuable than the few thousand dollars increase in income over the next few years.”

Ever the sportsman, Liu uses this sports metaphor as advice for young professionals: “Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.”

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“Insurance is hands down the only career for me.”
“I had no clue what I was getting into.”

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