Photo: Manulife Vietnam
Mr. Paul George Nguyen, CEO of Manulife Vietnam, tells VET’s Ha Anh that its focus in 2017 is to see customers more clearly and to hear them more precisely by reaching out to them using modern methods of interaction.
■ What were the successes and significant achievements of Manulife Vietnam in 2016?
With a commitment to be customer-centric and “grow with quality”, Manulife Vietnam has been achieving remarkable year-on-year growth in revenue. This is attributed to our consistent growth strategies of continuously developing our professional agency force in both quality and number, expanding our distribution channels with a major focus on bancassurance, diversifying our product portfolio to meet the changing needs of Vietnamese people, and strengthening Manulife’s brand in the market.
By the end of 2016, our agent numbers reached 23,000, 14 per cent higher than in 2015. The quality of our agents is a source of pride for Manulife Vietnam. In 2016, we opened ten new offices in Vietnam, bringing the total number to 54 in 39 cities and provinces. We also launched five new riders for “Manulife - My Beloved Family” and the healthcare rider “Gift of Health” last year.
The business production and revenue generation from bancassurance has delivered promising three-fold growth over the prior year. We have firmly established our company as the bancassurance leader and will continue to dominate the market in the future. We have also diversified our distribution channels with the development of direct marketing and e-commerce. In providing an unsurpassed simplified customer experience, we have executed many enhancements, such as instantaneous claims settlement, direct billing, and remarkable technology service launches, such as Manu-Ipro, ManuConnect, premium collecting via Payoo, and a new hotline, 1900 1776, to better serve our customers and distribution channels.
The Manulife brand also continues to grow. We have strengthened our presence in the country through intensive nationwide marketing campaigns, highlighted by the Manulife Danang International Marathon, to promote healthy lifestyles.
■ What are the significant differences for Manulife Vietnam in terms of brand, products and performance compared to its competitors?
Investment in our manpower capabilities through intensive training and development programs differentiates our sales force, making them one of the most professional in Vietnam and differentiating Manulife as a leading life insurer in the market. The quality, professionalism, and productivity of our agency sales force is demonstrated by 615 MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) achievers, one of the highest by any insurer in Vietnam. Our agency sales force’s quality is completed by advanced digital technology that adds convenience for our customers.
We lead the bancassurance space in the market, with high productivity metrics. Customized products, integrated processes, superior relationships, and professional execution capabilities differentiate us.
Manulife’s vision is to “be the most trusted partner and help customers achieve their dreams and aspirations”. To drive this, we constantly challenge ourselves, anticipating customers’ unique needs and striving towards delivering innovative, comprehensive, and holistic advice and solutions. We believe in customer-centricity and keep our customers at the center of all our activities. We have instilled a culture of “listening” to customers. This is critical, as it helps us to clearly understand our customers better and meet their needs and expectations.
■ What are the essential elements of a successful life insurance product in the Vietnamese market and how many of these do Manulife Vietnam’s life insurance products have?
A successful life insurance product must first bring trust and peace of mind to customers. Specifically, it must have benefits that meet the comprehensive protection needs of customers and their families. Products should be simple, easy to understand, and transparent. Not all customers are knowledgeable about the intricacies of insurance or finance, so the simpler the product design the easier it is for our customers.
■ What is Manulife Vietnam’s business strategy in 2017-2018 and how many new products will it launch in Vietnam?
Manulife’s strategy is to offer holistic solutions to our customers through sophisticated delivery platforms providing an enhanced customer experience. We will continue to develop our premium agency and optimize bancassurance and expand partnership opportunities. Market-leading digital customer engagement will differentiate us in the industry.
Vietnam’s market is maturing as well as growing rapidly. People are increasingly aware about protecting their health and life. We endeavor to provide propositions that are not only comprehensive but also provide superior financial solutions and help our clients maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our research unit constantly studies customer requirements and feeds our superior product development team with insights to develop holistic solutions.
Manulife’s philosophy is to develop products that are simple and value-add to our clients, across segments. We will enhance our product portfolio by introducing simple products that can be provided across channels to customers.
■ What are the factors behind Manulife Vietnam’s 2017 targets?
Vietnam has very favorable macro- and micro-economic factors driving the economy. Our GDP is among the highest in developing markets while we continue to be heavily under-insured. With a penetration rate of less than 10 per cent there is a significant opportunity to meet the requirements of Vietnamese families. The insurance industry has been commanding strong CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the last few years and this trend will continue. Our population of 90 million and booming middle class create huge opportunities to serve more customers and provide more financial protection to the uninsured and less-insured population.
■ What are the challenges for insurers in general and for Manulife Vietnam in particular right now?
Low awareness coupled with a low perception of the value provided by life insurance remains. The market lacks quality resources and technology has not been able to keep pace with the development of the industry. More defined regulations are evolving that would see more sophisticated products and delivery platforms.
A major challenge for the life insurance industry is becoming the “first choice of customers”, by improving the quality of products and optimizing customer service.
At Manulife, we constantly challenge ourselves to raise the bar for our products and services while also striving to create awareness and educating customers.
■ What is needed for the further development of Vietnam’s life insurance market in 2017?
Vietnam’s economy is forecast to record growth of 6.7 per cent in 2017, which is a favorable factor supporting the development of the life insurance market. The industry is expected to grow by over 25 per cent this year. And the country’s large population of 90 million is largely uninsured.
Active customer communications creates awareness. Omni channels provide the choice of fulfillment for customers. A professional sales force provides the right advice to the clients. Finally, simple products with processes make the sales cycle easy.
At Manulife Vietnam, our focus in 2017 is to enhance our engagement with our customers, listen to them, and understand their wants.
We will continue to up-skill our sales force and create efficiency in delivery platforms, using traditional and new-age digital platforms.
There is a lot of emphasis on customer data management and using analytics to provide customized solutions to our clients.
Our mission is to protect more Vietnamese families and fulfill their needs and requirements.