Aviva Singlife appoints Pearlyn Phau as group CEO

Aviva Singlife has appointed Pearlyn Phau as group CEO and executive director. She will take on the role effective 18 August 2021 for the group’s two Singapore licenced insurers, Singlife and Aviva Singapore.

Her appointment comes after Aviva and Singlife announced news of its potential merger last year. The combined Singlife and Aviva Singapore entities is said to be valued at SG$3.2 billion and the deal marked one of the largest in the insurance sector in Southeast Asia and the largest in Singapore. Combining Singlife’s digital capabilities with Aviva Singapore’s product history and advisory services, the deal is intended to bring Singlife’s mobile-first savings and protection solutions to Aviva’s customer base, while being able to offer existing Singlife customers a deeper product range and advisory capabilities.

Given Phau’s extensive history in helping to digitise one of Singapore’s most prominent banks, Ray Ferguson chairman, Aviva Singlife, said, "Phau brings to Aviva Singlife her deep knowledge across a wide spectrum of financial products and services. She is a strong leader with a digital mind-set and a demonstrable track record in transformation strategies and operational execution.” Meanwhile, Nishit Majmudar, currently chief executive officer of Aviva Singapore, will step down from his executive and board roles and become a senior advisor to the board. Walter de Oude, who has acted as group chief executive officer prior to Phau's appointment, will continue on the board as deputy chairman, Aviva Singlife.

Phau previously helmed the role of managing director of group head consumer products, marketing and ecosystems partnerships, DBS Bank. She has held various senior leadership roles within DBS Group, both in Singapore and Hong Kong. She is currently overseeing the consumer products, marketing and ecosystem partnerships with oversight across the product lines in the region and a mandate to scale growth exponentially via strategic partnerships.

Prior to this, Phau was the deputy group head of consumer banking and wealth management and has also spent four years in Hong Kong as the head of consumer banking and wealth management, DBS Bank Hong Kong. She has been credited with executing key strategies and business transformation initiatives across regional retail and wealth franchises at DBS, including being a key driver of emerging digital banking strategies.

In a previous conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in 2017, Phau said that when it came to embracing digital, DBS has a “do or die” given the multitude of fintech companies emerging.

These companies had an added advantage of being able to scale up rapidly without having the baggage of a large physical presence. When the bank embarked on this digital transformation journey, it did it in “totality” across the front, middle and back end functions, explained Phau. “We had to make a call as to whether to do it as a whole organisation or part by part. We knew there will always be a lot of naysayers, but we decided to transform from the core,” Phau said.

(Read her full interview here: DBS' digital-aha moment: "We are going to die if we don't digitise")

Phau also explained that the role of marketing has also shifted today. In the past, she defined the role of marketing as “gift wrapping”. But today, it really is about defining the customer value proposition as customers become far more discerning. As such, the marketing department today also works on the customer value proposition and has a core role in the business function. The marketing team also works alongside the product teams.

On her current appointment, she said, "I am delighted to have been entrusted with this exciting role and look forward to delivering on that vision for the benefit of Singaporeans and the region."

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