Manulife names Khoo Kah Siang to head up Singapore outpost

Manulife, the Canadian insurance and financial services giant with a significant presence in Asia, has named Khoo Kah Siang to head up its Singapore operations as chief executive officer.

When he takes over the role, which is set to take place on 9 February, pending any regulatory approvals, Dr Khoo will succeed Naveed Irshad, who is leaving Singapore to head up Manulife’s North American legacy business, which the company said is a “dedicated senior leadership role with direct responsibility” for the company’s closed legacy businesses in North America.

Dr Khoo comes to  Manulife from the Singapore-based Great Eastern insurance group. Most recently he was senior managing director in charge of strategic business development and regional bancassurance at Great Eastern, “responsible for growing its businesses across South East Asia”, Manulife said in a statement announcing Dr Khoo’s appointment.

It said he will report directly to Manulife Asia CEO Anil Wadhwani, and that he will also join Manulife’s Asia executive committee.

At Manulife, Dr Khoo will be responsible for overseeing the company’s operations in Singapore, including its life insurance, wealth management and retirement solutions businesses.

Manulife Asia CEO Wadhwani said Khoo was “a true homegrown talent” who had a “proven track record” in multiple leadership roles throughout his career.

During his time in Singapore, Irshad, who has been with the company for 20 years, helped to make the operation Manulife’s third-largest market in Asia, Manulife noted.

First North American insurer in Asia

Headquartered in Toronto and listed on the Toronto, New York, Hong Kong and Philippine stock exchanges, Manulife was one of the first North American insurance companies to expand into Asia, having set up a Hong Kong operation in 1898, which pre-dated its entry into the US market.

At the end of 2016, it employed some 35,000 employees, 70,000 agents, and had “thousands” of distribution partners, serving more than 22 million customers. At the end of September it had more than C$1trn (US$806bn)  in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months had, it said, paid out around C$27.1bn in payments to its customers.

In 2015, it launched a financial advisory business in Singapore, Manulife Financial Advisers, joining a number of other major insurance companies that have embarked on or returned to the business of working directly with retail clients in addition to intermediaries and brokers.

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