Prudential to retain focus on protection-type policies

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - Page 13

Prudential Life Insurance Co of Taiwan (保德信人壽), the local unit of US-based Prudential Financial Inc, aims to grow its first-year premiums by a double-digit percentage this year with a focus on protection-type policies, recently installed CEO Paul Low (盧裕民) said yesterday.

To achieve that goal, the insurer will work on bolstering its sales agents’ productivity and cooperation with local banks that do not have an insurance arm, Low said.

Sales agents currently account for 80 to 90 percent of policy sales, while bancassurance — or sales to its banking partners’ client base — contributes a small 10 to 20 percent.

“We intend to keep the ratio at 60 percent versus 40 percent by adding three more bancassurance partners this year,” said Low, who joined Prudential in June last year.

The Singaporean insurance veteran formerly worked for the local unit of New York Life that is now a life insurance subsidiary of Yuanta Financial Holding Co (元大金控) after the US firm pulled out of Taiwan last year to focus on its home market.

Prudential Taiwan will continue to set itself apart from foreign peers by emphasizing protection-type policies, instead of investment-linked products, Low said.

The strategy paid off in 2012 when first-year death insurance premiums reached NT$2.26 million (US$74,500), four times the industry average, he said.

The figures suggest severely inadequate insurance coverage and ample room for business growth, he added.

While seeking to deepen its presence here, the company has no intention of adding more sales agents — which number 700 at present — but will work on enhancing their productivity, Low said, adding that turnover among young agents is high because of the high pressure at work.

The insurer last year won its US headquarters’ approval to buy office space in central and southern Taiwan that can house 200 employees each, Low said.

In three years, Prudential plans to enlarge its staff to 1,000 if business development proceeds smoothly, he said.

With a capital adequacy of 300 percent, Prudential has a generous budget for property hunting, he said.

The US Federal Reserve’s tapering of its quantitative-easing operations has a very limited impact on the company’s bondholdings since US government debts account for 15 percent of its portfolio, Low said.

The company put the bulk of its investment fund in local government bonds, he said, adding that it is asking the US parent to allow greater investment flexibility.