Hong Kong and mainland stocks ended higher on Thursday after China’s exports significantly exceeded estimates, and as trade war fears mitigated after news U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs may exclude certain key partners.
The Hang Seng Index rose 1.5 per cent, or 457.60 points, to 30,654.52 at the close.
Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China Ltd. (2318.HK), a financial services giant that was recently ranked by a leading, London-based consultancy as the world’s most valuable insurance brand.
Insurance brands in China far outperformed their peers in other countries in terms of value growth and expanded an average 42% year-on-year largely due to the decrease in perceived risk as Chinese businesses grow and become more stable.
Industry consultants at Brand Finance crowned Ping An as the reputation king of the global insurance sector for the second consecutive year, ranking the group at the top of its 2018 Brand Finance Insurance 100 list on the basis of soaring monetary worth. Ping An's reputational value increased 60% to a record US$ 26.15 billion in 2018 from US$ 16.32 last year, according to Brand Finance's annual analysis.
Ping An's reputational success stands as a testament to a unique business model evolving since the 1980s in step with China's emergence as an economic powerhouse. The model's latest manifestation focuses on the nation's rising generation of smartphone users by offering services through fintech systems and bowing earnestly to ESG goals.
From modest beginnings in the southern China fishing village of Shekou, the insurance group's consolidated assets have grown rapidly, reaching US$980 billion (6.17 trillion yuan) as of last September. Since the turn of the century, Ping An's total assets, total revenue and net profit have maintained a compound growth rate of nearly 30%.
Today's group encompasses several profitable subsidiaries including Ping An Life and Ping An Property & Casualty, each ranked second-largest in their respective fields in China in terms of premium income, and Ping An Annuity, the nation's biggest insurer in that insurance sector niche. Other group subsidiaries include China’s first joint-stock bank Ping An Bank, and financial services providers Ping An Trust, Ping An Securities and Ping An Asset Management.
As at September 30, 2017, the group's army of internet-linked clients represents a 27% increase YoY.About 63 million are monthly, active users of fintech services. And some 312 million have installed a Ping An app on a personal electronic device.
The company has a decades-long history of philanthropic and give-back-to-society projects that have contributed to its positive corporate reputation. Ping An will remain true to their original aspiration and fulfill the social responsibilities by providing poverty relief, education and rural health care services that harmonize with the Communist Party of China's lofty goals.
Meanwhile, Ping An's business innovation push keeps that heart pumping.Ping An last year rolled out a fresh digital strategy -- called "Finance + Technology" -- that's helped cut costs, improve efficiency, control risks and enrich the customer experience by applying innovative technologies across diverse scenarios, all the while consistently widening the scope of services, it is expected to enhance its cash flow and bring a new page to the company.
At the center of the strategy are five cutting-edge technologies: biometrics, big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing. These technologies are woven into a variety of "smart," rapidly executed services offered by Ping An subsidiaries embracing health care, traveler support and wealth management.
A prime example is Ping An Property & Casualty's, world-leading "5-10 Ultra-High-Speed On-Site City Inspection" service through which clients in China's big cities can complete a daytime traffic accident claim within five to 10 minutes of an on-scene inspection. Another is Ping An Life's "AI Customer Services," which is shaming the insurance industry's typically slow grind by providing fast, artificial intelligence-based attention to online customers who file claims, ask for policy information or want to change beneficiaries.
The group's family of fintech applications embraces a variety of other services such as Lufax, Ping An Good Doctor, Ping An Haofang, E-Wallet, OneConnect, Ping An Healthcare Management Services, and Wanjia Healthcare.
On a wider scale, the group is deeply involved in "smart city" technologies. Work is under way in cooperation with several provincial governments across China to build digital systems for delivering public services, education, housing and environmental protection to help governments enhance administrative management and improve urban living conditions.
Fintech thus serves as a bridge linking Ping An's profit goals and social commitments.
Ping An unveiled a plan to invest US$ 1.58 billion (10 billion yuan) this year in a series of village-support programs. The group is also providing US$ 15.8 billion (100 billion yuan) for zero-interest loans to villages in poor areas nationwide. These loans will enable poor villages to upgrade industries and eradicate poverty.
A project under the group's property and casualty unit helps mushroom farmers in certain parts of southern China reduce costs and risks by applying satellite-based remote sensing and the Internet of Things to an interest-free financing program. Rural patients in Henan province can consult doctors through the Wanjia Healthcare online platform. And a Ping An Life rural library support program has so far provided about 1.15 million books to some 200,000 children.
Digital innovation will also support a plan launched this year to provide 1,000 rural-area primary schools with electronic classroom and library services. The plan calls for recruiting outstanding teachers now working in big cities to train 10,000 village teachers through internet-based or on-site courses and seminars.
Moreover, building a successful brand reputation will be an ongoing process as the conglomerate moves forward.
But Ping An has already overcome major challenges on the way to earning a huge customer base, an enviable revenue stream and now a top global insurance industry honor for two years in a row.
In summary, Ping An produced a strong set of results. Profitability is high at the core insurance operations. And new ventures in internet finance have started to make a contribution. In announcing this year's insurance company rankings, Ping An’s success in securing a corporate reputation that's safe and well as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The brand’s growing market share and outstanding financial results speak for themselves.