Insurtech Player ZhongAn Online Shuffles Execs as Losses Expand
An insurtech company backed by some of China’s leading tech giants has switched around some of its senior-most executives following mounting losses.
Jeffrey Chen Jin (陈劲), CEO of ZhongAn Online (众安在线), sent a letter to all employees of the Chinese insurtech company on 18 July to announce that his resignation application had been approved by the company board.
Chen said that he would remain with ZhongAn Online in the capacity of executive director, chair member of the investment committee and director of the ZhongAn Fintech Research Institute (众安金融科技研究院).
The move comes following several changes of key personnel, including Chen Wei, former CEO of ZhongAn Tech (众安科技), who joined Taikang Online (泰康在线); Wang Yu (王禹), former head of ZhongAnOnline’s automobile group, who joined China Huanong (华农财险), and Wu Ti (吴逖), former general manager of ZhongAn Online, who joined Union P&C.
In an interview with 21st Century Business Herald Chen Jin denied that there was a “wave of resignations,” and said that the personnel changes were a regular affair.
“Relative to the listing period, there has only been one resignation by a member of ZhongAn Onine’s core senior management team,” said Chen.
“Other people are still playing important roles within the ZhongAn system.”
ZhongOn Online was founded in 2013 by some of the leading players in China’s tech and finance landscape, including Ant Financial with a 13.53% stake, Tencent, with a 10.20% stake, and Ping An Insurance, with a 10.20% stake.
The company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in September 2017, become China’s first Hong Kong listed online insurance company.
According to its annual report ZhongAn Online posted insurance premium revenues of 11.26 billion yuan in 2018, for a YoY rise of 89%. Net losses were 1.797 billion yuan, for a YoY expansion of 80.42%.
ZhongAn Online imputed the losses to factors including the impact of a lacklustre market on investment returns, the company’s market expansion efforts as well as the fact that it’s R&D investment in tech delivery services remains at an incipient phase.
ZhongAn Online’s tech R&D investment was 850 million in 2018, accounting for 7.6% of all insurance premiums, while over half of ZhongAn’s staff are engineering personnel. As of the end of 2018 the company had filed 230 patent applications.
Official data further indicates that like other insurtech companies in China, ZhongAn Online is dealing with a surging number of consumer complaints.
Figures from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) indicate that in the first quarter of 2019 ZhongAn Online saw claims dispute and sales dispute complaints rise by 273.48% and 1270% YoY respectively.
Taikang Online saw a 320.00% increase in sales dispute complaints, while Anxin Insurance (安心保险) saw a 277.27% rise in claims dispute complaints.