A local COVID-19 outbreak took a toll on the payroll of financial companies, with their employee numbers shrinking by nearly 10,000 in the first half of this year from a year earlier, a survey by industry groups showed on Monday.
A total of 9,372 employees at local banks and life insurance companies quit as social distancing restrictions made it even more difficult to meet targets set by companies or supervisors, according to statistics from the Financial Supervisory Commission’s Banking Bureau and the Life Insurance Association of the Republic of China (壽險公會).
Employee numbers decreased even as domestic financial conglomerates’ aggregate net profit approached NT$400 billion (US$14.38 billion) in the first seven months of the year, surpassing the record posted for the whole of last year.
First-year premiums tumbled 11 percent year-on-year in the first six months, as life insurance agents had difficulty meeting customers in person to promote sales and customers avoided visiting banks, the bureau and the insurers’ association said.
Banks also cut the number of on-duty employees after the Central Epidemic Command Center in May imposed a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert to lower infection risks, they added.
That explains why the number of registered life insurance agents dropped by 12,000 to 387,212 as of June, while banking employees declined by 1,228 to about 177,000, the data showed.
Social distancing measures have increased costs for selling wealth management products and gaining credit card customers, while raising the difficulty of reaching high net worth clients, banking officials said.
The trend is unlikely to change in the near term as financial institutes embrace digital transformation to stay viable in the post-pandemic era, analysts have said.
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