China’s Ping An Insurance (Group) has surpassed Germany’s Allianz AG as the world’s most valuable insurance brand, the first time a mainland Chinese company has risen to the apex of the 100 most valuable companies worldwide, according to Britain’s Brand Finance. Ping An, the second-biggest Chinese insurer by premium income, has a brand value estimated at US$16 billion in 2017, a 29 per cent increase from last year, according to Brand Finance. The brand value of Allianz fell 7 per cent to US$15 billion to take second spot. China Life Insurance, the country’s largest life insurer by premium, stayed unchanged in the third place with a brand valued of US$10.3 billion. Brand Finance calculates brand value using the royalty relief method, which determines the value a company is willing to pay to license the brand as if it did not own it. “Ping An has lofty ambitions, aiming to become the world’s leading provider of personal finance,” said David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance. “Based on this evidence, in the long term it may not be an unrealistic goal.” Ping An, based in Shenzhen and Shanghai, reported a record profit of US$9 billion last year. Headed by founder and chairman Peter Ma Mingzhe, the insurer has grown into a sales network of 1.1 million insurance agents since its establishment in 1988. “Despite a slowdown, its core market of China is far more dynamic than the US and Western Europe, where the other leading brands are based,” Haigh said. Over the past decade the group has expanded into online activities with its internet lending and wealth management financial platform Lufax. It also diversified into internet sales of financial products, health care, real estate and cars. Analysts credited such diversified model with diversifying and boosting the company’s income. Ping An had also been successful at cross-selling different products across its business lines, Brand Finance said. “The firm offers a limited number of free products and services to potential customers via its online platform. This has generated goodwill and significantly expanded Ping An’s user base, creating a platform for cross-selling,” the report said. “Ping An is the first Chinese financial firm to deploy a net promoter score model to track customer feedback and brand loyalty. This commitment to tracking and tweaking the brand is paying off, with very high customer equity scores on Brand Finance’s Brand Strength Index .” Allianz’s brand value dropped because its revenue was weighed down by higher damage claims resulting from a series of floods and storms in Europe. In addition, a decline in the sales of its South Korean business and a weaker investment performance also hurt its profits. “The most significant factor behind the decline was historically low interest rates limiting the German brand’s capacity to earn higher returns,” the report said. Allianz remains strong in retirement products as Europe’s ageing population may well have long-term benefits for the well-established brand. Chubb is the fastest growing brand on the list with a brand value growth of 180 per cent to US$5.6 billion, propelling it from 36th to 11th. The rapid growth of its brand value was due to the rebranding of Ace under the Chubb name after the merger of the two firms, creating one of the biggest publicly traded property and casualty insurance businesses in the world. AIA. Hong Kong’s largest insurance company and one of the biggest in Asia, ranked fourth on the list while French insurer AXA ranked the fifth. MetLife, the largest insurer in the US, dropped from the fifth place in 2016 to the ninth in 2017 as its brand value fell 12 per cent to US$6.6 billion. Its third-quarter profit tumbled 52 per cent on derivative losses and costs tied to the spin-off of its US retail business. Metlife is undergoing a rebranding exercise, with a change to its logo and the phasing out of Snoopy after a 30-year association as it wants to return to a more serious approach to its image.