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Banking

Manulife wants to focus on bancassurance

- Ted P. Torres -

MANILA, Philippines - Manulife Financial Philippines will put huge emphasis on the development of its bancassurance operations, without prejudice to its strong agency and broker force.

It is likewise establishing its footprint in areas outside of Metro Manila as well as entering the C and D market.

Manulife Financial executive vice president and general manager-South East Asia operations Philip H. Smith said that they were “pretty happy with the Philippine operations” in relation to growth in the Asean region.

The agency force produced 80 percent of total premiums in the first semester of 2010 while the remaining 20 percent through the bancassurance channel.

Manulife and China Banking Corp. formed Manulife Chinabank Life Assurance Corp., a joint venture company to practice bancassurance in the bank’s 248 branches nationwide.

It already has 160 financial advisers fielded in China Bank branches and it should reach 200 FAs by yearend.

Ideally, there should be one FA per branch, although there are branches that require more than one specialist. And there are situations where one FA could service two or more branches.

Nonetheless, Manulife would like to attain the ideal ratio by next year. And that bancassurance would contribute at least one third of total sales.

That is the target for the Philippine, and that is the target for the rest of the region.

Smith likewise said that the Philippine operations is embarking on an expansion program moving outside the Metro Manila area, and towards the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

“We will be spreading our wings provincially,” the regional general manager told The STAR.

For the rest of 2010, Manulife would have opened three branches in Isabela, Nuvali in Laguna and Ortigas. Additional branches and personnel will also be established in Cebu and Davao to compliment existing operations. The next area in the insurer’s radar screen is Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Gen. Santos City.

The Canada-based life insurer will also be launching products that will be attractive to the lower income segment of the population. Initially, they were thinking of selling products that require monthly premiums of only P500.

Microinsurance is another product they are looking into although much depends on the number of quality of distribution channels, which is mainly rural banks, non-government organizations (NGO), and cooperatives.

In Vietnam, Manulife is working with a predominantly women NGO covering over 60,000 individuals that contribute an equivalent of $1 a month as premiums to microinsurance.

In the first semesters of 2010, Manulife’s total new business in the Asean region amounted to $416 million, some 22 percent higher than the same period in 2009.

Total premium and deposits grew by 20 percent to $818 million in the same period, while total assets under management (AUMs) grew to $8 billion end June 2010.

Smith said in a presentation that Manulife’s core strategies for the region includes the ability to ride the strong economic and demographics wave, largely focused on growing agency and bancassurance.

He added that its agency strategy for Asean will include both organic and inorganic manpower growth.

“Our present bancassurance operations should form strategic partnerships across the Asean region, as well as regional bank partnerships,” the Asean general manager for Manulife added.

ASEAN

C AND D

CEBU AND DAVAO

CHINA BANK

ILIGAN AND GEN

IN VIETNAM

LAGUNA AND ORTIGAS

MANULIFE

MANULIFE AND CHINA BANKING CORP

MANULIFE CHINABANK LIFE ASSURANCE CORP

METRO MANILA

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