Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - Page 12 News List

American International looks to boost agent sales

PERSONAL TOUCH:Taiwanese prefer to buy policies face-to-face, so the insurer will bolster its sales agents force to up to 3,000, from the 250 it currently employs

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The local branch of American International Assurance Co (AIA), the largest insurer in the Asia--Pacific region by overall premiums, aims to boost revenue contributions by sales agents to 50 percent as it seeks to further tap Taiwan’s protection product market, American International Assurance Taiwan branch general manager Ben Ng (黃旗興) said yesterday.

The Hong Kong-based insurance giant saw its value of new business jumping 27 percent in the first quarter to US$232 million, from US$182 million a year earlier, as an increase in the number of active agents and an ongoing shift toward regular premium protection products paid off, the group said.

Taiwan’s contribution was -negligible, after relaunching in October last year, company data showed.

Ng, who joined AIA last summer, said the local unit planned to hire more sales agents and increase their contribution to overall premiums to 50 percent, from the current 10 percent, because most Taiwanese prefer face-to-face communication when weighing protection insurance policy purchases.

Ng declined to give exact numbers, in keeping with the group’s policy, but his predecessor, Choo Sin Fook (朱信福), said last year AIA Taiwan intended to recruit up to 3,000 sales agents familiar with tablet computers and Skype software applications to better link up with young customers here.

Presently, AIA Taiwan employs 250 sales agents, in addition to 300 telemarketers, who account for more than 60 percent of business, Ng said, adding that bancassurance accounts for about 20 percent.

While optimistic about Taiwan’s economic fundamentals, Ng said growing inflationary pressures and stagnant wages would make sales of insurance products difficult.

The prevailing low-interest rate environment is further weakening appeal for protection insurance products, a recent report by Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評), the local arm of Standard & Poor’s, indicated, after the sector’s total premiums contracted by nearly 10 percent last year.

Against the backdrop, AIA Taiwan rolled out an all-in-one life insurance policy that features a comprehensive coverage at relatively low cost, Ng said.

A former country manager at CARDIF Assurance Vie’s Taiwan branch, Ng said AIA allowed him more freedom to run the local branch and that the group’s Asia-centric business strategy was more likely to succeed in the region.

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