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Succeed with passion

Released at: 06:46, 01/07/2018 What's on

Succeed with passion

Photos: FWD

Mr. Anantharaman Sridharan, CEO of FWD Vietnam and with more than 18 years of experience in the life insurance industry, spoke with VET about the factors that have enabled FWD to differentiate itself as a newcomer and record impressive growth over the last year.

Mr. Anantharaman Sridharan, CEO of FWD Vietnam

What has driven FWD’s growth in 2017?

We have a clear vision on changing the way people feel about insurance, by making it simple and easy to understand and by pioneering the minimization of our exclusions list, down to between two and six. This makes our products distinctive and innovative. Secondly, we have made insurance relevant via a customer-led product strategy. For example, our critical illness solution provides single policy protection for the whole family, including unborn children. This is unique in the industry. Our universal life product now provides an impressive 24/7 e-withdrawal solution; a first in Vietnam. The differences and breakthroughs FWD has created are critical factors in its rapid growth. 

People are also an important factor. Our strategy has been implemented successfully thanks to the devotion and commitment of our management team and employees. Over the last 18 months we have lived and worked together to provide customers with breakthrough solutions that help them live to the fullest. We have 122 MDRTs (Million Dollar Round Tables); an industry record in any life insurer’s first year of operations. Our digital focus helps us to be 100 per cent paperless and 100 per cent cashless; another first in the industry. In particular, we have made it into the Top 10 out of the 18 players in the market within our first year of operations and the future looks even more promising.

As a newcomer in Vietnam, did you adopt a special strategy to approach the market, which is considered to possess great potential but also a host of challenges? 

As a newcomer, we are well aware that besides a deep understanding of the market and its trends, we have to be ready to change and create differences in order to build a new image. 
Our vision is to change the way people feel about insurance, so the most important strategy is a customer-led product proposition. This means we have to explore and understand customer needs to design products, not just sell what we have. Over the past year, FWD has launched several products that are simple and easy to understand and that provide breakthrough benefits to customers. These are a signature of FWD in Vietnam. 

Digital technology is also one of our strengths and we have constantly utilized it to provide our customers with the best insurance service experience. Digital technology has also enabled us to be unique in our internal operations and external customer services. 

Our brand tagline is “Get ready to live”, where every member of staff and our sales force are inspired to live to the fullest and take pride in being a member of the company. They are FWD’s representatives and convey the spirit of “Get ready to live” to our customers. At FWD, we believe that insurance allows people to live happily, inspiring optimism and confidence rather than concern and fear. That is our new approach to customers.

How does FWD try to change customer awareness?

Positioning insurance differently in the eyes of customers is our fundamental strategy. One of the obstacles preventing Vietnamese people from buying insurance is the complexity of policy terms and provisions, which make them feel confused and untrusting. Hence, as soon as we entered the market, the first thing we did was differentiate FWD by simplifying the terms and minimizing the exclusions. FWD’s products only have two to six exclusions, providing customers with maximum protection at no extra cost.

Our message to customers is “Get ready to live”. Life has ups and downs, so let insurance support you during important milestones in your life, so you can focus on what to do in the present to reach your goals in the future. This is a new approach to repositioning the meaning of life insurance; still offering protection but in a positive and active manner.

Many enterprises are integrating digital technology into their business nowadays. What makes FWD’s digital technology strategy stand out?

FWD identified digital technology as a key business strategy from the very beginning. We simplified the process by fully applying digital technology and minimizing the use of paper and cash. Agents can now complete application forms and analyze, evaluate and submit documents online. We are one of the first companies to provide this service.

Digital technology has also been applied throughout the customer experience process, to provide simplicity and convenience to customers anytime, anywhere. By leveraging technology, FWD has improved the customer experience with electronic claims - a breakthrough in Vietnam’s insurance industry. Customers can also directly submit claims via email. 

What are FWD’s development plans for the future?

After the first year of operations our business results exceeded expectations, so we decided to expand our network to meet rapidly-growing demand. We previously conducted research based on geographic factors and customer accessibility, etc. We found that Da Nang was the optimal choice for our third office. We also plan to expand in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in the future. This is the beginning for our market development plan, under which we target expanding our office network to at least ten cities and provinces in Vietnam this year. We also focus on groundbreaking new life insurance products that are simple, affordable and provide maximum protection benefits to customers. 

As a leading digitally-driven life insurer, FWD will continue to strive to give customers a convenient and unique experience. We have taken the initiative in partnering with e-commerce website Tiki.vn to distribute life insurance. We recently launched a cancer care product on the site, with a few simple registration steps. This is an accessible opportunity for people to be protected by a cancer care insurance policy. We will also shortly provide customer services via a chatbot. This technology is quite popular in developed countries but remains a new concept in Vietnam. I feel confident that FWD will achieve much more in 2018 while living our vision of changing the way people feel about insurance.

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