Armed with information — Fiona Fong

By Steven Chong — ANZIIF Writer | 17 Sep 2018
  • Claims
  • General Insurance
  • Insurance Broking
  • Risk Management
  • Reinsurance

As it would for any good lawyer, caution and consideration for her peers in general insurance claims attended Fiona Fong’s entry into the world of essay writing last year.

The ANZIIF TurksLegal Claims Scholarship called for submissions on hot topics in insurance, and although her subject of cyber claims met the brief, Fong admits she initially felt concerned that her essay-writing skills had become rusty since graduating from university.

Regardless, she ended up enjoying the experience, which she puts down to addressing a topic about which she feels extremely passionate.

‘Winning it has given me the confidence to share my views and contribute more to industry publications — taking on a more active role to educate and inspire others as opposed to passively reading articles written by others,’ Fong adds.

‘That, and it did make me a whole five thousand dollars richer!’

Victim to advocate

Fong’s passion for combating cybercrime was born of being one of its many victims — although hardly a naive or careless one.

‘I am really the most cautious person in my online life — my Facebook and other social media profiles are set to private, I choose tricky passwords and I never click on weird links.

‘But somehow, identity fraud happened to me, and my bank and Paypal accounts were hacked,’ she explains.

Fong’s early perceptions of cybercrime, as perpetrated by ‘a tech-savvy geek sitting at home with nothing better to do than hack into people’s bank accounts’, morphed into indignation that someone had the audacity to research enough about her to gain access to her personal data.

So in response, Fong armed herself with information.

‘I researched cybercrime and came to realise how narrow my knowledge of it was. One major attack could truly cause devastating consequences to our economy, and for that reason I am fascinated with what the insurance industry is doing to combat this risk that is constantly evolving.’

Fong’s essay, Navigating Cyber Claims in an Evolving Landscape, reviewed the contemporary local scenario and found that insurers were not adequately prepared to handle cyber risk claims.

Almost a year on, with mandatory data breach reporting now implemented in Australia and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) operating, has the industry response evolved as much as the risks?

’There’s still insufficient data to know about the reforms’ success. We’re hearing more about data breaches, but that’s because notifications are happening that weren’t before,’ Fong says.

‘Notwithstanding, I am of the view this reform is a step in the right direction as it helps make individuals and clients more aware of this issue and the need to act swiftly.’

Career, Korea and coffee 

Cybercrime is not the only string to Fong’s bow. She was promoted last year to Senior Claims Consultant in Marsh’s Advocacy team, where she has specialised in handling major loss, and non-routine and complex claims.

‘This has included major catastrophic loss from natural disasters, high-profile liability claims that grab media attention, [and] complex matters that have dragged on for years. Much of the challenge can be in managing client expectations.’

Fong’s appetite for legal wrangles was formed at a young age.

‘Growing up, I always wanted to be a lawyer — maybe from watching too many American TV shows that glamorised lawyers having coffee meetings in swanky offices or strutting into Court in expensive suits. I even did work experience in year 10 at a law firm!

‘From second-year uni, I worked as a paralegal in various firms — sole practice, family law, a mixed bag — right up to my admission as a solicitor. In the end though, there was more opportunity as a litigation lawyer in a firm that specialised in insurance.’

After practising for two years, during which time she was drawn to the innovative and dynamic nature of the insurance industry, Fong took a career break to teach English in South Korea.

‘Like many early in their legal careers, I found the hours punishing and had always been attracted to teaching, educating and inspiring people — and South Korea, which was then relatively unknown. Plus, I loved K-Pop!’

Fong loved Seoul, but after a year, she found the lifestyle ‘just too comfortable’ and missed the challenges of law, so she returned to Australia and recommitted to building a career in insurance.

Marsh martials aspiring millennials

‘In particular, I chose a career in claims, as the work is varied and allows me to utilise my legal skills in a commercial setting,’ Fong explains.

‘In 2015 I started as a claims consultant in the general insurance team at Marsh — an established multinational with a good reputation held real appeal, and straight off I felt like they were great people. One of the interviewers is still my manager and mentor.’

Security, stability and an excellent supportive network of mentors and colleagues are other virtues of her employment for which Fong remains grateful, and she is most proud of founding and co-chairing the Marsh Young Professionals Colleague Resource Group with a mission to empower her peers’ career development.

‘We’ve launched the Marsh Mentoring Program, hosted popular interactive workshops on personal branding, networking and body language, arranged competitions to encourage attendance at external events, and, most recently, had our first ever Marsh Shark Tank,’ Fong elaborates.

‘It’s styled on the reality TV show on Channel 10, where colleagues pitch any idea they have for Marsh to a panel of ‘sharks’ within ten minutes. Winners get the prize chance to implement their idea — or you get roasted by the panel if your idea isn’t practical or pitch is unconvincing.’

Fong says the initiative has received tremendous support from senior management.

‘This demonstrates that Marsh is forward-thinking and acknowledges the importance of engaging millennials as a cohort — after all, by 2025, we will make up 75% of the workforce and our client base.

‘But at such a global company, there are actually limitless opportunities to drive your career.’

Bright ideas 

Part of this career development enabled Fong the opportunity to go for the TurksLegal Scholarship — now known as the Bright Light Award. This year, Fong is on the judging panel.

She says innovation is key to the future and the Bright Light Award allows an opportunity for the winner to work with Turkslegal and ANZIIF to showcase their idea across the general insurance industry.

Fong has the following tips for those entering the Bright Light Award:

  • A huge emphasis will be placed on how well you set out the basic premise of your idea or view
  • Ensure that you substantiate your idea and consider its wider implications if adopted. These can be both positive and negative
  • Extra points for the quality and creativity of the submission. However, video entries are marked based on the content and not quality of recording, so feel free to film using your phone or camera.

‘Just remember – if you don’t enter you can’t win,’ she says.

The $6,500 value prize that Fong won includes her attendance at the AICLA/ANZIIF Claims Convention that will be held in Sydney later this month.

‘I am super-excited about this opportunity as I will get to hear what my peers have to say about the current major claims trends.’

And the $5,000 cash?

‘As much as I would love to sound nerdy and say that I spent the winning on self-educational expenses, truth is, I spent it on a #crazyrichasians holiday to Singapore!’

Submissions for the ANZIIF TurksLegal Bright Light Award are open. Applications close at 5.00 pm (AEST) on Tuesday 2 October 2018.

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