2016 Outlook, part 3By Randell Tiongson on January 21st, 2016
For the 3rd installment of my 2016 Outlook series, I am honored to present the views of the CEO of one of the largest insurance companies in the country today, AXA Philippines.
The 2016 Outlook of Rien Hermans
This 2016, I see several positive factors across the key markets. They inevitably come with various degrees of risk as these markets undergo various political and economic transitions. This year will be by no means smooth sailing and the volatility of the market will be high, but quite clearly, there are several growth opportunities over the medium and long-term that seem to offer stable growth.
China’s economic slowdown— and its subsequent impact in markets across the globe— has created concerns, with the recent stock market lock-down seeming to reinforce a growing aversion for China exposure. But while its days of hyper-GDP growth are over, the Chinese economy is still expected to grow reasonably well 2016 and beyond, subject to the Chinese government’s ability to implement the proper reforms. Volatility is to be expected as it transitions from a manufacturing-reliant economy, to a more sustainable consumption driven one.
This transition will inevitably impact most emerging markets, particularly those in Asia. But as a whole, Asia is still expected to drive global growth over the next 3 years. The Philippines and its consumption driven economy in particular, remains well-positioned for a defensive economic theme amidst the global volatility. Understandably, the eventual results of the presidential election may potentially impact the degree of acceleration, but will not alter the upwards trajectory. The country’s economic fundamentals remain on solid footing, and shall remain through the political transition, pointing to sustainable economic growth.
The US has been recovering and recent figures show modest economic growth, which is expected to continue in the coming years and allows a slight increase in interest rates. The dollar can further strengthen against both the Euro and the Peso. The stock market in the US, which has been recovering over the past two years, is expected to show a slight positive growth, with the expectations that sectors like the digital oriented stocks will outperform.
I expect the European markets to outperform the global markets in 2016, as Europe has clearly started its recovery and economic growth is expected in the major economies within the Euro zone. This will further be accelerated by the stronger competitive position as a result of the lower Euro.
This 2016, the best strategy seems to be to diversify and have a long-term mind-set. Balance investments among markets with a strong consumption theme, like the Philippines, while considering developed markets like Europe and include some exposure in US-denominated funds to benefit not only from the growth of the overseas markets, but also from the stronger currency.
Convinced of the value that financial products deliver to customers Rien has spent over 2 decades in the financial service industry in the fields of product development, distribution, marketing, strategy and general management.
In 1990 he started with ING Bank in the Netherlands, where he was responsible for developing and implementing Life insurance as a new product group offered by the bank. His analytical skills and strategic vision were recognized and for 4 years he was vice president Strategy & Planning advising the Board of ING on strategic issues.
In 1999 he moved to Asia and after a short stint in Hong Kong he was assigned as the CEO of ING Life as well as CEO of Aetna Life & Healthcare in the Philippines, Executive Director and General Manager of ING Malaysia and the last position he held in ING was Board Member of ING Financial Services Poland.
In 2009 Rien ‘crossed the line’ and joined AXA with the assignment to transform AXA Philippines into a strong player on the domestic market with a sustainable position in the top 5. Focused to be the best in the eyes of the customers the company has strengthened its position in the growing life insurance and investment market in the Philippines.