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Foreign risk firms tap local talent pool

October 19, 2004 11:30 IST

After conquering the global banking arena, Indians have now started making their presence felt in the insurance turf.

Gaurav Garg, vice-president, personal lines, Tata AIG General and deputy regional manager for American International Underwriters, has been promoted as vice-president (field operations) at AIU's head office in New York, USA. He is the first Indian to be elevated to such a position in insurance sector.

Indian insurance joint venture companies are fast becoming training grounds for exporting Indian talent. Tata AIG General Insurance Company is the first to export its talent to its foreign partner, AIG. ING Vysya Life Insurance Company is understood to be training its own actuaries for taking on overseas assignments.

"We are developing high quality Indian talent pool which can be exported to join the operations of the overseas partner and take on greater responsibility," said AIG officials.

ICICI Lombard General Insurance chief executive officer said, "We do encourage our employees to seek opportunities overseas."

However, he added that at there have not been any transfers overseas so far but there could be some in the near future. Employees of ICICI Prudential Life, on the other hand, have been sent on temporary overseas assignments to help other Prudential ventures in areas like information technology.

This is after similar projects have been implemented in the Indian joint venture, said company officials. One of the leading global non life insurance company having a joint venture in India is coming down to recruit personnel from their own joint venture operations for their overseas operations.

Traditionally, global banking scene is dominated by Indians. The list is quite long: from Victor J Menezes (former chairaman and chief executive officer of Citibank NA), Aman Mehta (first Indian CEO of HSBC), Gurvinder Singh Rana Talwar (former StanChart chief executive) to Jaspal Bindra (Stanchart) and Zarir Cama (HSBC), et al.

Garg will oversee three regions. In addition to his existing responsibilities in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and South Asia, he will also be responsible for Southeast Asia and Australasia.

"This is a significant recognition for our country," said Garg. He was earlier with National Insurance Company for a period of 14 years, before joining Tata AIG in July 2000.

India has caught on importance as it shows immense growth opportunities, said ING Vysya Life officials. While these two companies have taken the cue to train and export local talent for overseas postings, CEOs of other insurance companies see this as a means to retain their talent.

Anuroop 'Tony' Singh was recently appointed as the vice-chairman of Max New York Life in addition to his current position as CEO and managing director.

"India is one of the leaders in New York Life International on many measures of success, most significantly the development of a career agency sales force now deemed to be the best, most professional, in the market place. Tony's elevation to the vice-chairman's role is in recognition of all that he has been able to accomplish," said Gary Benanav, the chairman of New York Life International.

"Many senior executives for insurance joint ventures have been picked from sectors such as FMCG, IT and banks. Over the past three and a half years, they have matured and studied the insurance industry," said industry observers.

For a sector like insurance, which opened to competition just over three years back, this movement of Indian insurance officials being posted overseas is seen as being commendable, they added.
Freny Patel & Reeba Zachariah in Mumbai
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