Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 11 News List

UK companies to extend bancassurance locally

TRENDY The two companies say they will distribute Prudential's protection and savings policies through Standard Chartered's banking network in Taiwan

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Standard Chartered Plc and Prudential Plc said yesterday they would extend their bancassurance partnership to the Taiwanese market, building on their close cooperation in other Asian markets over the past nine years.

The move follows the growing number of foreign insurers -- including New York Life International, Aviva Plc, American International Group Inc and Aegon NV -- that rely on bank channels to distribute their products in this country. The practice of integrating banking and insurance services is known as bancassurance.

In a statement issued yesterday, the two UK companies said they would jointly distribute Prudential's protection and savings policies through Standard Chartered's local banking network.

Standard Chartered operates 86 branches in Taiwan following its acquisition of Hsinchu International Bank (新竹國際商銀) last year, making the London-based lender the country's largest foreign bank by branches.

Prudential sells its products through a pool of 10,000 local salespeople and the 114 branches of E. Sun Commercial Bank (玉山銀行), of which Prudential is the second-largest shareholder.

Prudential is Britain's second-biggest insurer.

"Since 1998, we have been cooperating with Prudential in various countries to make superb life insurance products for our customers' protection available. Now we want to live up to the same high standards in Taiwan," Chris Werner, regional head of Standard Chartered's consumer banking in northeast Asia, said in the statement.

The other Asian markets in which Standard Chartered and Prudential have joined to provide bancassurance services include Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and China, the statement said.

To facilitate the new partnership in Taiwan, Standard Chartered will recruit and train 200 financial planning advisers to provide tailor-made products in the coming months, the UK bank said.

The bank plans to initially hire 50 financial planning advisers by the end of the year, the bank said.

To differentiate itself from its rivals, whose financial advisers sell a mix of financial products including insurance, pensions, mutual funds and restructured notes, Standard Chartered's financial planning advisers will focus primarily on providing its customers with insurance-product services, with an emphasis on retirement products.

The nation's aging society has prompted the bank to place increasing importance on retirement products and provide customers with professional recommendations on their retirement planning.

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