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Younger leaders take hold of insurance firms

By Lee Min-hyung
Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin
Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin

Leaders of the local insurance industry are getting younger amid the growing calls to embrace digital reform as a last resort to tackle worsening market conditions.

The insurance market here has long been considered one of the most conservative financial sectors, with firms being reluctant to make drastic changes to their business structures.

But with the traditional means of management ending up deteriorating their profitability in 2019, insurers are reaffirming their willingness to let go of such an approach and adopt a digital paradigm shift.


Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho
Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho
Amid the sense of crisis, they are on track to name younger CEOs in the hope that new blood will bring innovation to the struggling industry.

Most insurers have recently carried out leadership reshuffles and replaced those in their 60s with younger figures.

Of note is that three of them are in their 40s. They include Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin, Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho and Fubon Hyundai Life Insurance CEO Lee Jae-won.

In the recent 2019 year-end reshuffle, a number of other life and non-life insurers also replaced their leaders with those in their early- to mid-50s.

Choi has particularly become the talk of the insurance town, as he was named the youngest CEO in the industry in October 2019 at the age of 47.

The company reported a 72.5 billion won ($61 million) operating loss in 2019.

It is pinning its hopes for a rebound in 2020 on the leadership of the young CEO. Choi said he would focus management on enhancing corporate value.

The new leader of Carrot General Insurance, the nation's first online-only non-life insurer, is also drawing th spotlight after its debut Jan. 14.

The company is seeking to differentiate itself from others by launching unique and non-conventional insurance products only via its online and mobile platforms.

"Digital innovation is emerging as a catchphrase for local insurers, as they continue to realize the importance of accepting non-traditional sales channels," an insurance industry official said.

"Even if the industry is slow to change, a growing number of market players recognize the tech-driven shift in the business environment," the official said. "Naming younger leaders is crucial to speed up the digital drive."


By Lee Min-hyung
Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin
Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin

Leaders of the local insurance industry are getting younger amid the growing calls to embrace digital reform as a last resort to tackle worsening market conditions.

The insurance market here has long been considered one of the most conservative financial sectors, with firms being reluctant to make drastic changes to their business structures.

But with the traditional means of management ending up deteriorating their profitability in 2019, insurers are reaffirming their willingness to let go of such an approach and adopt a digital paradigm shift.


Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho
Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho
Amid the sense of crisis, they are on track to name younger CEOs in the hope that new blood will bring innovation to the struggling industry.

Most insurers have recently carried out leadership reshuffles and replaced those in their 60s with younger figures.

Of note is that three of them are in their 40s. They include Lotte Non-Life Insurance CEO Choi Won-jin, Carrot General Insurance CEO Jung Young-ho and Fubon Hyundai Life Insurance CEO Lee Jae-won.

In the recent 2019 year-end reshuffle, a number of other life and non-life insurers also replaced their leaders with those in their early- to mid-50s.

Choi has particularly become the talk of the insurance town, as he was named the youngest CEO in the industry in October 2019 at the age of 47.

The company reported a 72.5 billion won ($61 million) operating loss in 2019.

It is pinning its hopes for a rebound in 2020 on the leadership of the young CEO. Choi said he would focus management on enhancing corporate value.

The new leader of Carrot General Insurance, the nation's first online-only non-life insurer, is also drawing th spotlight after its debut Jan. 14.

The company is seeking to differentiate itself from others by launching unique and non-conventional insurance products only via its online and mobile platforms.

"Digital innovation is emerging as a catchphrase for local insurers, as they continue to realize the importance of accepting non-traditional sales channels," an insurance industry official said.

"Even if the industry is slow to change, a growing number of market players recognize the tech-driven shift in the business environment," the official said. "Naming younger leaders is crucial to speed up the digital drive."


Lee Min-hyung mhlee@koreatimes.co.kr


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