Ma received his doctorate and is a member of the Communist Party of China.
Ma has worked in the insurance industry for his entire career. He served as deputy general manager of the Social Insurance Group of China Merchants Group before joining Ping An Insurance in 1988. Ma worked at Ping An for several years before becoming its president.
Ma opened the doors of Ping An to foreign investors including HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. His company was one of the earliest companies to launch a successful float on a huge scale in Hong Kong.
The Times calls him "a seasoned infighter who engineered the emergence of Ping An as an independent insurer from its earlier domination by the Chinese state banks, which were its principal shareholders."