Manulife chief sees "tremendous" opportunity in China

Low insurance penetration and changing regulation credited with market's excellent potential

Manulife chief sees "tremendous" opportunity in China

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

As China’s fast-growing economy opens up, it presents a major opportunity for global insurers due to its low insurance penetration rate, Manulife’s president and CEO Roy Gori said.

China, which is the second-largest economy in the world following the US, is currently in “a very nascent stage of its development as it relates to the industry that we operate in: insurance, wealth asset management, and retirement,” Gori told CNBC during the China Development Forum in Beijing.

Gori noted that China’s insurance penetration rates were very low by global standards at around 5% of GDP. By comparison, the US is at 7%, while the UK and Japan are at around 10%.

“China is a tremendous opportunity for us,” he said, adding that as the country’s population ages, demand for pension- and retirement-related products increases.

Manulife operates in 17 markets around the world, and is present in three entities in mainland China – Manulife-Sinochem Life Insurance Company, Manulife TEDA Fund Management Company, and Manulife Business Processing Services.

Foreign insurers have been present in China for several decades, but their market share remains low due to regulatory limitations and a lack of awareness. Current rules limit foreign ownership in insurers operating in China to 50%, with AIA as the only exception.

However, Beijing announced plans to raise the limit to 51% in 2020, and to totally eliminate restrictions after two years, allowing foreign insurers to expand further in the market.


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