Issue No. 2 April - June 2010
Message from the PresidentIndustry Events
Industry NewsQ&A with Jose Nicolas
Q&A with Jill Hoffman

Message from the President

LIA PresidentFriends and colleagues

Starting 2010 on a high note with robust sales across products

I am glad to report encouraging sales of $315 million in weighted premiums from new business in the first quarter of 2010, 43 per cent more than the first quarter in 2009.

Regular premium sales reached $244 million, registering a 40 per cent growth over the same period in 2009. Single premium sales rose to $1.01 billion, marking a significant 56 per cent improvement.

In tandem with improving market sentiments, investment-linked sales grew by five percentage points over the corresponding period in 2009 to 27 per cent of total new business.

Health insurance sales in the first quarter of 2010 totalled $41 million, up 69 per cent over the first quarter of 2009. We attribute the strong demand to the increased consumer awareness of the need for insurance financing in the face of rising medical costs.

At this juncture, however, it is difficult to see if the positive growth we have enjoyed in recent quarters will continue throughout 2010. Consumer confidence, positive market conditions and sustained economic recovery are likely to remain susceptible to negative developments in major or regional countries, whether of a political or economic nature.

Maintaining customers' peace of mind and financial well-being

The vision of LIA members is to provide individuals with peace of mind and to promote a society where every person is prepared for life's changing cycles and for those situations unforeseen. Let us focus on this with greater intensity and urgency.

I am gratified to report that concerted efforts by insurers in engaging customers to respond to the importance of fact-finding and proper needs analysis when considering what policies to buy are beginning to bear fruit. In the first quarter of this year, 66 per cent of applications were completed with a full or partial fact-find, a seven per cent improvement over the preceding quarter. I encourage members to press on with this good work.

On its part, the Association will be supporting members by rolling out a series of 'Know Your Financial Health Workshops' for consumers in the second half of 2010. The campaign will be augmented by radio advertisements, interviews and editorial features.

These workshops will highlight the value and benefits of fully participating in the fact-find process with one's financial adviser. The aim is to encourage people to take concrete steps towards securing their financial future.

Contributing to the work of the Association

We urge every member to come forward and be earnestly involved in developing the key initiatives we plan to accomplish in 2010 and 2011. We look forward to your active participation in the following activities:

  • Reviewing major LIA guidelines and developing new Guidelines
  • Supporting and conducting the 'Know Your Financial Health Workshops', August - October 2010
  • Organising the 25th Pacific Insurance Conference, 11 - 14 September 2011

Let us all work together to contribute to the continuous growth and vibrancy of the life industry in Singapore.


Tan Hak Leh

Industry Events

Mental Capacity Act: Briefing by the Office of the Public Guardian (26 April)

MCA - First Speaker   MCA - Attendees  MCA - Second Speaker
Ms Janice Foo, Speaker  Mr Daniel Koh, Public Guardian

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) took effect on 1 March 2010.

A person at least 21 years of age (the 'donor') may voluntarily appoint one or more persons (the 'donee') to act and make decisions on his behalf should he lose his mental faculties via a legal instrument called the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

The LPA spells out the areas of decision-making and confers on the donee the authority to make decisions regarding the donor's welfare and/or property and financial matters. To take effect, the LPA has to be lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which functions under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Some 80 staff from member companies attended a briefing conducted by OPG, arranged by the LIA. Comprising attendees handling operations, legal or compliance, they were given an overview of the new Act and its key provisions.

All were pleasantly surprised to see the Public Guardian himself, Mr Daniel Koh, actively participating during the session.

A common concern posed relate to the level of protection given to third parties such as insurers who act in good faith on the instructions of the donee. OPG clarified that the onus is on the donee to ensure that he is acting in accordance with the LPA, including ceasing to act if his powers are terminated. Protection of third parties, where no power has been created or where the power has been revoked, is provided under MCA section 16. However, third parties acting in good faith and without neglect should exercise due diligence, and they should not transact if they have knowledge that the LPA is revoked or the power of the donee is terminated.

You may direct any inquiries on MCA to:

1800 226 622

Consumer Education Activities

Mind Your Money Seminar  CASE Seminar

MoneySENSE is the national financial education initiative administered by the MAS that brings together industry efforts to promote and increase financial literacy among consumers.
LIA has been actively involved in presenting talks on life and health insurance since 2004. We appreciate and are indebted to the insurance representatives drawn from member companies who have volunteered as LIA speakers.
Six talks were organised in the first half of this year. Separately, LIA also supported a CASE seminar on "Healthcare Financing", which is of high current interest, by fielding a speaker to explain the role of health insurance, and more importantly, how to go about choosing a health insurance policy. A Ministry of Health representative spoke on the national healthcare financing framework.

First woman to clinch Top Director Award in the 102-year history of Great Eastern Life

Shenile Teo
Shenile Teo (R) and her daughter with GE Life's Chairman, Fang Ai Lian at the Achievers' Night

In the ultra-competitive, male-dominated world of insurance sales, Ms Shenile Teo has rewritten history at Great Eastern Life by becoming the first woman to be crowned Top Director. She said, "This award does not just belong to me, I share it with my entire agency. I could not have done it without the support of my team members. I am also grateful to Great Eastern for the excellent support and providing the opportunities for me to come this far." Shenile targets to expand her agency group of 75 life planners to 100 in the next couple of years.

LIA Social Networking for Members' Staff and Industry Partners

12 April

LIA Drink Session (12Apr10) - Pict2  LIA Drink Session (12Apr10) - Pict3  LIA Drink Session (12Apr10) - Pict1

3 June

LIA Drink Session (3Jun10) - Pict1  LIA Drink Session (3Jun10) - Pict2  LIA Drink Session (3Jun10) - Pict3

Industry News

Know Your Financial Health Campaign 2010
7 August to 23 October 2010

Save the Saturday mornings - 7 August to 23 October 2010 - for your customers and friends!

  • The life insurance industry is commemorating a decade of the "fact-finding" initiative undertaken by the LIA in 2000-01.
  • Engage consumers to fully appreciate the importance of engaging in fact-finding and proper needs analysis such that they take concrete steps to secure their financial well-being.

Media campaign

Prior to August, there will be write-ups (tips, Q & A, quotes) and interviews with LIA spokespersons to educate as well as drive attendance to the Workshops.

Radio advertisements on Live 938 with key messages will be aired two weeks before the Workshops.
Know Your Financial Health Workshops

Retirement Planning Talk (18Feb10)  Retirement Planning Talk (27Feb10)  Life Insurance Talk (1Jun10)

Some 9 Workshops planned around three topical needs are under 'construction'.

  • Healthcare Financing
  • Protection
  • Savings & Investment

Each Workshop is able to accommodate between 50 and 100 participants. A registration fee of $10 per person will be charged. The special highlights for participants will be a personalised fact-finding exercise taken offline, and an expert speaker to cover a related topic (for example, a medical doctor for Healthcare Financing).
Look out for more details on the LIA website.

2nd Life Protection Seminar 2010
5 October 2010, M Hotel, Singapore

Theme: Protection beyond the National Schemes
Save the date - 5 October 2010 - in your calendar!

LIA-SAS Protection Seminar (20Aug09) - Pict2  LIA-SAS Protection Seminar (20Aug09) - Pict3  LIA-SAS Protection Seminar (20Aug09) - Pict1
  Seminar in 2009  

Building on last year's success, the Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) and the Life Insurance Association will be jointly organising their second Life Protection Seminar.
This seminar is to explore ways that will decrease the protection gap via product innovation, targeted marketing and education of consumers of their needs. Speakers from Singapore and Asia, as well as from other countries outside Asia are being firmed up. The keynote speaker will be Don Yeo, Deputy CEO, Policy & Corporate Development Group, CPF Board.

Participants are expected to be industry practitioners including SAS members, staff of LIA member companies, and tied and non-tied distributors.

25th Pacific Insurance Conference 2011
11-14 September 2011, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Chief Executives, save the date - 11 to 14 September 2011 - in your calendar!

LIA PIC 2011 Save-The-Date Advertisement   Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Some 300 life insurance chief executives from the ASEAN, Asian and Pacific Rim countries including North America will come together in 14 months' time for the 25th conference of the Pacific Insurance Conference Limited ('PIC') series.
The PIC is an important event. The conferences are held biennially. Singapore last hosted a PIC in 1999. LIA Singapore is once again honoured and proud to be the host association and local organiser for 2011.
In keeping with the PIC's strong tradition of volunteerism as befitting a not-for-profit organisation, the Association is counting on member companies to rally around and render leadership and support - ranging from subcommittee work, conference / events sponsorship to seeing to it that Singapore chief executives and senior management sign up as delegates.
Currently, 'Team Singapore' comprises:

  • 25th Confernce Chairman: Tan Hak Leh
  • Organising Chairman: Jose Nicolas
  • Finance Subcommittee: Gilbert Pak
    -  Sponsorship: Simon Newman
  • Marketing / PR Subcommittee: Darren Thomson

 Industry resource for Anti-Money Laundering training
The LIA Compliance Work Group is developing a question bank for life insurers' staff / representatives to gain awareness of the modus operandi of money laundering in order to spot suspicious transactions.
The questions will meet the recommendations of the most recent FATF Report on Risk-Based Approach - Guidance for the Life Insurance Sector of October 2009.
The question bank will be available to all member companies in due course.
Review of key LIA Guidelines
The LIA has begun a review of its various Guidelines pertaining to the needs-based sales advisory process, company's training and competency plan, and CPD requirements in respect of life insurance.
The objective is to be sure that the guidelines continue to remain relevant, up-to-date and effective for all channels of life insurance distribution in Singapore. After a decade of experience coupled with recent developments in regulatory and market arenas, it is an opportune time for such an exercise to be undertaken.
The task is apportioned to two teams under the oversight of the LIA Subcommittee looking after Financial Advisory / Distribution matters. Representatives from bancassurance and the licensed Financial Advisers are participating in the review as well.
The aim is to have recommendations submitted to LIA and thereafter to MAS before 2011.
Upcoming LIA Guidelines pertaining to Insurance Intermediary Fraud
A new LIA Members' Undertaking is expected to be issued to supplement the MAS Guidelines on Risk Management Practices for Insurance Business (Insurance Fraud Risk) of November 2007.
It sets out the core principle that an insurer's anti-fraud operating procedures and processes should serve the objectives of minimising opportunities for intermediary fraud and managing such risks. Procedures and processes should require (1) that the policyholder is informed of important transactions pertaining to his policy, and (2) that a robust audit trail is kept for purposes of carrying out investigations and taking remedial actions in the event of fraud or misconduct.
Furthermore, to complement internal measures and enhance their effectiveness, insurers should be considering ways and means of making their customers aware of what to expect in terms of communication and transactions. For instance, policyholders should become used to receiving documents and notifications directly from the insurer; policyholders should come to expect that payments either ways are to be made directly between the policyholder and insurer.
MAS Guidelines for Use of Internal Models for Liability and Capital Requirements for Life Insurance Products containing Investment Guarantees with Non-Linear Payouts
- Formation of tripartite Work Group

The MAS issued a consultation paper in February of last year. The regulator has taken up a suggestion by the Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) that a Work Group involving the SAS and industry with MAS in the chair be formed to review specific details of the Guidelines and address relevant issues.
The LIA / life industry is represented on the Work Group by five member companies, viz., Aviva, HSBC Insurance, Manulife, Prudential and TM Asia Life.

Framework for Medisave contributions

The CPF Self-Employed Scheme (SES) started in 1992. Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) earning a net trade income of more than $6,000 are required by law [CPF (Self-Employed Persons) Regulation 25] to contribute to their Medisave account.
The CPF Board approached the Association two years' ago, seeking to collaborate with member companies in facilitating fuss-free payments by life insurance agents. All life insurers with tied agents now have a set of standardised processes in place.
Noteworthy is that the industry has agreed that a breach of one's Medisave obligation constitutes adverse information under the Fit & Proper criteria laid down by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

If you are a SEP, the CPF website is able to show you your Medisave liability status, at

Q&A with Jose Nicolas

Jose NicolasMost people wouldn't know that the high-flying Managing Director at Munich Re, Jose Nicolas, is a school dropout. The fact is, he was accepted into a Ph.D program in Economics but quit a year later to start a business.  "I am quite glad I did that. School is so overrated," said Jose.

That aside, one thing's for sure - Jose is neither an underachiever nor a quitter in life. The Canadian now oversees the life insurance business at Munich Re, bringing with him more than 15 years of experience in international finance and the insurance industry. Having been exposed to the international markets very early on in his career, he has worked on business dealings with people from over 40 countries before reaching the age of 40.  

PIC 2009Jose also wears the hat of Chairman of the Organizing Committee that will be hosting the 25th Pacific Insurance Conference (PIC) in Singapore next September, overseeing the day-to-day planning to make the conference a huge success. "Although the conference is more than a year away, a lot of planning is already underway. We really want to make it the best conference ever as the PIC will be celebrating its 25th edition," said Jose.

Outside of work, Jose is an avid endurance runner who dedicates most of his time to training or reading about new training methods. And when he is not shopping for that new and exciting ultra-light trail gear, he will be hanging out with his wife, Chantal, whom is married to for 9 years, and his 2 children, Alexandre and Marie. 

Q: What brought you to Singapore? 

After spending almost a year travelling back and forth between Montreal and Beijing for a project in 2002, I set my sights on Asia because of its amazing dynamic story.

An opportunity to work in Singapore came about in 2006. At the time, I knew little about Singapore but took on the offer. Now, I can honestly say that there is no other place I would rather be right now. Granted it can be overwhelmingly hot sometimes (especially during a mid-day run) but there is no snow ever, which is great because I do enjoy the heat!

Q: What would you consider your strengths?

I am highly driven by competition and curiosity. I believe I am also committed, determined, self confident, strategic - and humble of course Smile

Jose Nicolas at Racing The Planet
Jose participating in "Racing The Planet 2010, Australia"

Q: How do you wind down after a day's work?

I run home. It is a great way to clock the miles so that I hit my training targets and it is also ecologically friendly.

Q: Tell us about a little-known fact about yourself.

I used to be a figure skater. Needless to say, I got teased a lot in school. However, as I grew into my teenage years, many of the teasers became very jealous of the fact that I was one of the only two guys in the skating club that had over 80 teenage girls.

Q: A couple of my proudest moments were....

I recently completed a 250-kilometre run in Australia, where nearly half of the participants dropped out before reaching the finishing line. I eventually finished the run, walking no faster than 3km/h on the last day on massive blisters.

Q: Complete the sentence: I love life because....

Life is what you make it.

Q&A with Jill Hoffman

Jill Hoffman (2007)Inspired by a speech delivered at the 2008 annual LIA luncheon by Mr Low Kwok Mun, Executive Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore for Insurance Supervision, Jill Hoffman, Chair of the Life Insurance Association (LIA) Protection Work Group, is on a mission to narrow the protection gap in Singapore. 

The Protection Work Group works closely with the Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) - for which she was recently elected as President after serving as Secretary for the past 2 years - to organize the annual Protection seminar for industry members. 

"The second Protection seminar jointly organized by the LIA and SAS is in the works. The first one we organised last year was a huge success and we really hope to make it bigger this year," said Jill.  "The two associations are really coming together to organize a productive and fruitful seminar for industry members.  The seminar aims to explore the different methods to narrow the protection gap - from product innovation and targeted marketing to educating consumers of their protection needs."

Prior to moving to Singapore, Jill was working for an insurance company in the Bahamas for 4 years where she was responsible for pricing and valuation and other actuarial tasks. She then moved to Singapore 3 years ago after accepting an invitation to take on a position at Munich Re. Now, the Canadian not only wears the hat of Deputy Managing Director at Munich Re, but also Head of Pricing, a position that oversees the quoting activities for Munich Re's life business in South East Asia and Taiwan.

We caught up with Jill to find out more about her life in Singapore and outside of work.

Q: What in particular (for better or for worse) surprises you about Singapore? 

When I first moved to Singapore I couldn't get over how expensive it was. My serviced apartment was next to Paragon, so that certainly affected my view.

The heat and humidity, though you do expect it, is not something you can really prepare for.  It's somewhat similar to the -40oC temperature in Winnipeg, Canada, where I grew up. It's indescribable.

I really like Singapore. I find it a great place to live with young children and I don't even mind the weather (that much!). I really don't find much to dislike here. Every place has its own idiosyncrasies and there is nothing particularly troubling with Singapore.

Q: How do you wind down after a day's work?

Jill Hoffman Family - Pict1  
Photo from Evolving Imagery

After work, I enjoy dinner with my family and spend time with my two boys - one is 5 and the other is nearly 3 - in their night time routines. Those quiet moments with the kids are usually the highlight of the day.

After they are asleep, I will usually watch TV and work on either knitting or cross-stitch. As the weather here doesn't call for many sweaters, I tend to make stuffed animals. I can't sit with idle hands. I have to be doing something.

I do enjoy reading too, particularly fantasy, historical fiction, and a well written biography. I'm currently reading the "Pillars of the Earth" series by Ken Follett which is about the building of an English cathedral in the Middle Ages. I often take books out from the library or purchase them electronically to read on my phone. It's rare that I don't have a book on the go.

Q:  Tell us about a little-known fact about yourself.

I took up running last year. It's a great way to start the day. I recently completed my first half marathon, which was a huge achievement for a non-jock like me.

Q: A couple of my proudest moments were....

Jill Hoffman Family - Pict2Being a parent makes me extremely proud.  It's hard to narrow it down to one particular moment. I want to provide a good example for my children and to me, that means trying to do the best at all that I do. 

Completing my actuarial fellowship is also something I'm really proud of.  Without that designation, I won't be leading the life I currently have. Preparing for the exams required a lot of sacrifice and hard work and I am grateful to have completed that.

My running career is certainly something I take pride in. In the first 5-kilometres race I took part in, I came in second for my category and received a silver medal for my efforts.

Q: Complete the sentence: I love life because....

It is full of unexpected surprises and opportunities. You never know what will happen next.

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