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Thailand among 4 key regional growth markets as Marsh & McLennan targets multinationals

US-BASED insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan Companies has set its sights on accelerating growth in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam in a bid to provide insurance and risk-consultancy services to the influx of multinationals in the four markets.

Marsh & McLennan's regional hub in Singapore considers that the arrival of more multinationals and other foreign companies will bring growth opportunities to the group. As a result, the parent company has given the green light to its subsidiaries in these four countries to recruit more professional staff and become active in employee-benefit insurance programmes, said Duncan Buchanan, chief executive officer of its Thai unit, Marsh PB.

Marsh & McLennan entered Thailand in 1979 by forming Marsh PB, which is a joint-venture company in which Thai shareholders hold 55 per cent, and the US company the remainder.

Marsh PB provides risk-advisory and insurance programmes to both local and multinational companies.

The group's Singapore hub covers 12 countries, including Thailand, but in the view of Marsh, the Thai market should grow faster than it has to date when considering the rising flow of foreign investment and the upcoming Asean Economic Community, he said.

Marsh PB will recruit around five professional staff to add to its 90-strong workforce in preparing to capture new customers.

It currently serves some 3,000 companies, of which 70 per cent are multinationals. About 310 of these clients offer health benefits to their employees.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are another focus for Marsh PB, said Buchanan, adding that the company targets growth of more than 20 per cent this year in terms of overall revenue and its customer base.

"Thailand is expected to be a bright market because Thai employees have more awareness of their benefits from their offices, so we will be aggressive in capturing customers in the employee-benefit segment," said the CEO.

The insurance benefit that employees generally receive from their employers is life insurance, because social security can cover medical-treatment costs.

However, employees increasingly expect their offices to provide more benefits to cover hospital inpatient care, dental and major medical costs, he explained.

Marsh PB will work together with the human-resources and financial and accounting departments of each company in designing insurance programmes that benefit their employees, and will provide projections of claims costs and premiums to employers.

The trend in the employee-benefit segment is for flexibility, because each employee has different requirements.

The use of flexible benefits has been on the increase in Hong Kong and Singapore, he said.

Employees aged 35-40 are looking for protection for their family, while employees who are retiring want insurance that covers 100 per cent of their medical treatment, as well as generating sufficient cash after retirement.

Marsh PB will offer flexible benefits to corporate clients, which should in turn benefit from increased engagement on the part of employees and lower staff turnover, said Buchanan.

However, the flexible-benefit option will not be offered to SMEs, because the cost is not worth the investment. Marsh PB will, therefore, design the flexible benefits for clients with more than 100 employees, he added.


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