APRIL Group’s Singapore and Thailand CEO, Alan Chun talks to us about the challenges of expanding in SouthEast Asia. Mr. Chun also discusses management and marketing strategies for running two major offices in Singapore and Thailand. Read his full interview below for more insights about APRIL Assistance’s SEA expansion.
A: The market in Singapore is relatively small. With a very good and well-organised infrastructure, facilities and systems, the demand for assistance services within Singapore is relatively low. Foreigners find it safe and easy to manage on their own. Most if not all are related to hospital admission and payment of medical expenses.
There are also a number of assistance providers in Singapore, and this makes market entry extremely challenging. APRIL International is somewhat different as the Group was established based on a “Master-Broker” concept. In short, we identify market niches and opportunity, develop a suitable program, insure it, sell and distribute it and service it by way of claims and assistance. This unique differentiation allows us space to develop.
APRIL’s entry into Asia-Pacific was in mid-2012, and we are still relatively young. We see vast opportunities for us to leverage our global expertise to benefit our clients in the region. The Group’s vision is “Changing the image of insurance”.
A: Our Regional head office is strategically located in Singapore. However, our major 24/7 alarm centre is in Bangkok. Bangkok is a natural hub for IndoChina region where there are more foreign arrivals be it business or leisure.Thus, fuelling the needs for assistance services.
Although Singapore and Thailand are just 2 hours of flight away, there are obvious differences that require different management practises. In my opinion, the greatest difference lies in the culture that has an impact on the mentality of the workforce. Both have their good and bad points, and a successful management would have to heighten the strengths and play down the weaknesses.
A: What I can say is that ASEAN is promising, the region has potential and cannot be ignored if one wants to be a global player.