In 2008, Jessica Wu got her dream job. A technology graduate from university in Canada, she had begun a career in software sales at IBM before returning to her native Hong Kong as a contractor at HSBC. This was her first encounter with the financial industry.
“I liked finance,” she said, “and I wanted to marry finance and tech.” She got a master’s degree in applied finance and went on to get the kind of job she wanted, becoming head of asset-management I.T. at AIG.
But then the global financial crisis struck. AIG nearly went bankrupt, saved only by a government bailout. So Wu pivoted to the asset-management industry, becoming a relationship manager at BlackRock iShares. She then became a salesperson for its Aladdin risk-management system. One of her clients, MetLife Asia, headhunted her in 2015.
“They wanted me to set up a strategic platform for growth,” she said. As at other insurance companies, budgets and resources flow to distribution, claims and platforms. Wu looked to partner with startups to bring something new to the business.
“Fintech is great for customers,” she said. Automating processes means customers can always track their information with a financial provider, which in turn can leverage data to provide better services.
Wu’s biggest project so far has been introducing robotic automated processing to MetLife in Asia. “We’re now going live with RPA on one of our product lines,” she said.
She’s optimistic about growth prospects for the industry: “The right digital tools mean a firm can launch a new product and achieve scale in days, not years.”