A Newcomer, A Strong Contender in the Insurance Space | An interview with SingLife CEO, Walter De Oude

Noel Wong

ZUU online had the privilege of meeting with Singapore Life Insurance (SingLife Insurance) CEO, Walter De Oude. Prior to establishing Singapore Life, De Oude was previously the CEO of HSBC Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd and was a board member of HSBC Asset Management Singapore.

Singapore Life Insurance is located at the heart of Buona Vista in the Metropolis Tower 2. Founded in 2014, it is a fast growing company and recently raised US$50 million for its series A round funding. 

To provide some context to what SingLife Insurance is about, it has the goal of making insurance accessible for all Singaporeans. As the little red dot’s first digital life insurance provider, it eliminates unnecessary paperwork and enables easy access to all insurance policies. For more information on what SingLife Insurance does, you can go to this website.

To kickstart the interview, I asked De Oude what motivated him to start Singapore Life Insurance. He shared that he was looking for a solution in the insurance industry. He found that attaining insurance through the traditional ways was difficult given the excessive paperwork involved. From there, he got inspired to start an insurance solution that was easily accessible through technology.

Through his many years of experience, he has realised that life insurance has not kept up with technology. Thus, he came up with a proposition to meet this gap in the insurance industry.

He continues to share that in an era where selling insurance is competitive, SingLife insurance has to evolve at a faster speed than her competitors. In improving her competitiveness, technology acts as an enabler. It helps to execute traditional functions in a more efficient manner. He says that everybody needs life insurance, regardless of whether you’re young or old. Most people are frustrated at how complicated it is perceived to be. SingLife insurance aims to provide life insurance in a simple and cost-effective manner in real time. By doing so, it hopes to be an innovator in an age-old traditional industry.

Most of the time, life insurance can be daunting to sell. It is complex and complicated, coupled with the layering of brochures. With the complications and turn-offs by insurance agents, many people are deterred from buying insurance when being sold insurance the traditional way. SingLife Insurance is interested in investing into people’s legacies. Through it’s simple-to-use digital portal, it seeks to eliminate the complications involved in buying and selling insurance.

These were some of his responses to my burning questions.

 

So how did the acquisition of Zurich Life come about?

“As professionals in the industry, the opportunities to know other insurance companies become available. Between Singapore Life and Zurich Life, they share similarities such as a high quality of management. One of Singapore Life’s strengths is to act quickly and be nimble, which is what Zurich Life shares as well. The partnership struck by both parties was emphasised by Singapore Life’s uniqueness.”

“Given the similar values it shared and them being complementary, it was only natural that this deal happened.”

 

What’s next for SingLife after the acquisition?

“With the acquisition of Zurich Life, we plan to integrate it into Singapore Life. Zurich Life has won our trust with a good working relationship. With greater integration, we seek to make technology become more efficient and thus give better value for customers.”

 “The winners of the future will be trustworthy companies that can provide good value to their customers. This is a testament to that spirit of entrepreneurship, to give good value for the customers. Hence, there is a growing trust among consumers for companies to do the right thing. With the acquisition of Zurich Life, there is an appreciation that new is better.”  

 

Are you planning more acquisitions?

“We are always on the lookout for opportunities to grow organically. The acquisition of Zurich Life is a testament of the power of Singapore Life and its ability to expand quickly. Also, Singapore Life has a quality of capital backing. With its capital as the foundation, it is possible for Singapore Life to make such acquisitions.”

 

What’s the secret behind SingLife’s current success?

“Our success is based on word of mouth. People want to be part of the story, they want to be part of this chapter in our journey. We aim to bring good quality services to customers that benefit them. By doing so, it adds value to society. When the product offerings are good, customers will come and trust in the reliability of Singapore Life Insurance.”

 

What are some of the challenges in running Singapore Life?

“Insurance companies here have to be given a license to operate, making the barriers of entry to this industry is high. Singapore Life also has a massive financial shareholding capital. The insurance industry is challenging but the fact that we are alive reflects that there is a huge faith in our company.”

 

SingLife is the newest player in the game, but will it be here for the long haul?

“We may be a newcomer, but we were already fully regulated by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) when we started.” 

“So yes, Singapore Life is here to stay.”

Overall, through my interview with De Oude, he shared some of his motivations behind starting Singapore Life and his insights on the insurance industry. Curious to find a solution to the hassle of traditional insurance, Singapore Life Insurance was his way of filling in the gap created by the traditional insurance industry. It will be interesting to see how Singapore Life Insurance might potentially transform the insurance industry in the near future.

(By Noel Wong)

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