Managing Asia

For insurer AIA Group, Asia is a sweet spot

Mark Tucker, chief executive officer of AIA Group.
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg via Getty Images

AIA Group remains committed to Asia and has no plans to venture abroad, Group CEO and President Mark Tucker said.

"[We've got] no interest beyond Asia. No company has had that ability to be 100 percent focused on Asia. We intend to continue taking advantage of that to grow our business and position," he told CNBC's "Managing Asia."

In recent years, a confluence of factors such as rapid economic growth, an ageing population and changing attitudes toward previously taboo topics such as death have shaped Asia into a key battleground for global insurers.

Asia will likely account for 40 percent of the global insurance market by 2020, according to projections by reinsurance company Munich Re released this week. The region will also be home to five of the top 10 primary growth markets, such as China and India, the report said.

As such, Asia remains a "sweet spot" with a large protection gap, according to the 58-year-old who took over the reins as AIA's boss in 2010.

"Demographics, [which are] the basis of Asia's development, have effectively created an economic tailwind over the past 20 years. Those demographics are changing and may produce a headwind over the next 1-3 decades, but I think adjusting into all of that again provides opportunity," Tucker told CNBC.

Read MoreAIA:China's slowdown 'not scary at all'

Last year, the life insurer, which used to be part of American International Group (AIG), reported a 22 percent rise in full-year profit, thanks to robust growth in China.

Operating profit in the mainland jumped 38 percent, marking the biggest rise among AIA's 17 markets across Asia-Pacific. The world's second-biggest economy, where AIA is the only wholly foreign-owned insurer, is also the key driver behind a record 24 percent annual jump in the value of new business, a key yardstick of insurers' profitability.

Tucker believes the stellar growth AIA is reaping after four years in China only represents the tip of the iceberg, despite the mainland's slowing economic growth.

"The incredible opportunities in urbanization, rising incomes and demographics, aligned with the progressive nature of regulators' thinking and support, give us a very strong hope for the future," the CEO told CNBC.

Read MoreAIAand Citibank pen 'Bancassurance' deal

Apart from emerging markets, another growth area for AIA is the model of bancassurance.

At the end of 2013, the insurer entered into an exclusive 15-year deal to sell its life insurance products through Citi's Asia-Pacific retail branch network. The exclusive partnership came into effect in January 2014 and according to analysts, allows AIA to decrease its reliance on sales agents while leveraging on the bank's vast networks.

While the bancassurance deal will likely take two to three years to be up and running optimally, the partnership is moving in the right direction, said Tucker.

"While agents remain very much the lifeblood of our business, other channels are also growing and bancassurance is one of them," he added. "We look to grow both because it's not a question of sharing the pie, but it's about building a bigger pie."