Zurich International expands regional footprint

CEO Davis says the Isle of Man-based firm will use Australia as a launching pad for Asia-Pacific expansion.
Zurich International, an offshore wealth management arm of the Swiss-based insurance giant, is looking to expand into four more Asia-Pacific markets. Already authorised in Hong Kong, Bahrain, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, chief executive officer Martin Davis, says the company is looking to expand further, starting in Australia where it will target a growing audience of expatriates and globetrotting company executives.

ôWe are interested in the global mobile population as well as local investors with an international outlook as these markets are growing at a phenomenal rate,ö he says. ôWe launched in Singapore last year and are looking at three or four other markets. We will only distribute through financial advisers as we do not have our own international sales force, except in Australia.ö

Zurich International offers a range of savings vehicles, administered from the Isle of Man, as well as protection products and group savings schemes.

Australia is a key prospective target for the company, Davis says, because it has high numbers of the companyÆs target clients and because its parent company has a ready-made distribution network.

He adds: ôAustralia has a lot of expatriates living there as well as a significant number of its population wandering the globe. It will be easy to gain access to the market as we have a big domestic insurance operation and will go through that.ö Davis did not rule out expanding into the China market, but did voice some concerns about administration.

Although the Isle of Man, where Zurich InternationalÆs range of individual, group and insurance savings products are registered, is a tax-exempt jurisdiction, Davis stresses that its products will not be sold on that point alone.

ôIt is unsustainable to build a business solely on tax breaks,ö he says. ôWe will only operate in countries where we have authorisation. Some other companies operate in a grey area where regulators are not worried so long as they are only working with expatriates. But the key feature for our target groups is being able to make savings contributions in any currency they want and be paid out in any currency they want.ö
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