Leading wholly foreign-owned life insurer AIA Vietnam posted robust results in the year’s first half with a 129 per cent jump in the value of new insurance contracts and a 40 per cent rise in annualised new premiums on-year. CEO Stephen Clark sat down for a chat with VIR to discuss the secrets behind the firm’s success and his perspective on the future. Stephen Clark and his two sons joined AIA’s “Real Life Journey” charity event in Nha Trang What was behind AIA Vietnam’s strong performance in the first half of the year, despite the country’s still slow economic recovery? A clear strategy coupled with consistent execution is a core foundation in any business success and I believe that AIA Vietnam has managed to achieve this. Three years ago, we set out our vision of becoming the preeminent insurance company in Vietnam. Today, we remain firmly committed to achieving this and I am encouraged by the belief that our staff and agency force have in achieving our vision. At AIA we cater to our customers’ real needs, meaning that we always look to provide advice, products and services tailored to real-life challenges, events and goals. We strive hard to simplify the entire insurance business for customers, with professional but friendly partners, staff and agents, who are on hand to guide our customers at all times. Do you believe your recent growth trend will carry through to the end of the year? I am confident that AIA Vietnam can maintain solid growth, especially when we look at the very consistent and sustained growth we have experienced over the past two to three years. Of course, we have to continue to work hard and maintain a strict customer-focused discipline. But rather than looking just at the near-term, as a life insurer committed to Vietnam and Vietnamese customers we must ensure that we remain successful for the next 10 to 20 years and beyond. There is some degree of urgency however, as Vietnam Insurance Association (AVI) statistics highlight the fact that relatively few Vietnamese actually have life insurance protection compared to other countries. The leading life insurers in Vietnam have a duty to rectify this imbalance. AIA Vietnam takes this very seriously, but we still have a long road ahead. Having said this, I am confident that we will see continued growth in the life insurance business in Vietnam, as well as the role AIA will play in the country’s insurance market in the years to come. Increasing customer counts is often a major obstacle for insurance companies. How has AIA Vietnam fared in growing the value of new contracts over the past six months? We continue to see steady growth in terms of new customers, new policies, as well as the level of premiums being paid by our customers. Despite the relatively low insurance ownership as mentioned before, demand for our products is on the rise. I believe that the combination of our strong brand, professional staff, agents and partners, plus an expanding product portfolio carefully tailored to satisfy the real needs of Vietnamese customers is at the centre of this trend. With the right financial advice, we are seeing that satisfied customers are purchasing higher value protection and savings products. So, with the right advice, the right products and services, customers are becoming increasingly better informed when it comes to their financial and insurance needs. I have no doubt that as the economy continues to strengthen and improve, so too will the sustainable development of Vietnam’s insurance. What will be AIA’s main business development goals through the end of the year? We must continue to further strengthen our premier agency, as well as expand our partnership with Citibank. This is our ongoing focus, rather than just the next six months. We must remain relevant to our customers’ real life challenges and requirements. We are continually striving for service excellence, whether it be advice, sales, claims or queries. You can expect AIA to continue to introduce exciting new products. Also, we are celebrating the first anniversary of our market-leading, iPOS sales technology. We have led the way and I’m delighted to see that our competitors are now beginning to follow AIA in this very important area. The enactment of Circular 86/2014/TTLT-BTC-NHNNVN guiding insurance agents is an important legal fundamental for life insurers to propel distribution. Do you foresee bancassurance becoming a major market service in Vietnam? In Vietnam, selling insurance through banks branch networks to their banking customers still faces many challenges. The contribution from this channel to total industry premiums remains modest, with insurance agents continuing to make up the lion’s share of new sales. This is rapidly changing though, as Vietnamese bank customers become more confident in the banking system. Customers are becoming increasingly financially sophisticated, particularly the affluent and the younger generation. These customers are also becoming more demanding, with a much lower tolerance for poor service, poor products and poor advice. I’m very happy therefore that Citibank Vietnam, one of the leading banks when it comes to banking and insurance, exclusively offers AIA’s insurance products. Citi, with their vast banking and insurance experience across many markets, has a well-tested and experienced team of Insurance Specialists on hand at their branches in Vietnam to offer insurance advice and AIA products to their many banking customers. Citibank and other similar banks are in an ideal position to grow into major distributors of life insurance solutions to their customers.
Posted on: Mon, 11 Aug 2014 01:58:24 +0000
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