Issue No. 4 October - December 2010
Message from the PresidentIndustry Events
Industry NewsQ&A with Koh Hong Kwan
Q&A with Annette King

Message from the President

LIA PresidentFriends and Colleagues
 
Three quarters of growth augur well for 2010
 
The life insurance industry pulled in a strong performance in the first nine months of 2010, sustained by economic and market conditions. Sales were 17 per cent higher than the same period last year, with total new business premiums registering $1,125.6 million, up from $963 million (weighted basis*).

The strong showing came largely through annual premiums, which reached $763.7 million, a 22 per cent increase over 2009 - and thereby achieving three consecutive quarters of growth for 2010.
 
Single premium business also increased. Up to the third quarter of 2010, it drew in weighted sales of $361.9 million, 7 per cent more than 2009. Of this amount, 19.3 per cent were CPF-funded sales.
 
Health insurance over January to September grew by more than 8 per cent over the same period last year to reach $115 million. Integrated shield plans and riders formed the bulk, amounting to 85 per cent of new business. At 30 September 2010, 2.32 million lives were covered by health insurance for premiums of $719 million.

The good growth across three quarters suggests that the industry is poised to close 2010 on a bullish note.

*Weighted new business premium is calculated as follows:
10% SPI + 100% API with adjustment for premium payment terms of less than 10 years

Life industry's fundamental drive for advice
 
Members' efforts to drive quality business, which secures present and future sales, are starting to bear fruit. The number of applications completed with full or partial fact-find increased in all three quarters of 2010:

  • 1Q: 66 per cent, a 7 per cent improvement over the preceding quarter
  • 2Q: 72 per cent, a 6 per cent improvement
  • 3Q: 71 per cent, a 12 per cent improvement

Caveat emptor - let him [buyer] beware; he alone is responsible if he is disappointed
 
The regulatory framework in Singapore endeavours to strike a balance between safeguarding the interests of the consumer and supporting the healthy growth of the industry. Without such an environment, caveat emptor gives rise to inequity.

A slew of consumer-focused requirements are being laid down, some have been rolled out whilst more are expected to be issued by the MAS in 2011 and beyond. These have been consulted with the public and industries, and the LIA has been closely involved in the various processes over the last few years.
 
The measures include:

  • MAS Fair Dealing Guidelines, April 2009
  • MAS Representatives Notification Framework, November 2010
  • Upcoming MAS Directives
    •  Product Highlights Sheet
    •  Formal policy and procedures in respect of unsuitable product purchases
    •  Enhanced safeguards for retail customers, including Customer Knowledge Assessment
    •  Training of representatives, including new CMFAS Modules

LIA focus on consumer education, 2010 - 2012

LIA concluded a three-month public education campaign (July/August - October 2010) titled Know Your Financial Health, aimed at promoting financial health among Singaporeans with focus on fact-finding. Using multiple platforms, comprising a radio campaign, online information and seminars, the campaign reached a wide audience.

The Association will continue to impart consumer knowledge and promote financial health assessment as an essential aspect in the process of ensuring that people obtain sufficient protection over their current and future financial risks.
 
Advance with courage and confidence

There is much work to be done downstream but I remain confident that member companies will all rise to the occasion and turn the imperatives into quality enhancement initiatives in every area, such that we advance towards achieving the desired outcome of consistently placing the right product into the right hands at the right time at a reasonable price.
 
Season's Best Wishes

I wish industry colleagues and our readers a wonderful holiday season spent with loved ones.

 Signature

Tan Hak Leh

Industry Events

Inaugural National Financial Planning Day (NFPD)
1 October 2010

 
A day set aside every year to exhort people in Singapore to undergo regular financial health checks and be reminded of the importance of being financially protected.

Flags Pledge
  Reciting the Pledge...

The 1st National Financial Planning Day (NFPD), initiated by the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) was marked on 1 October 2010 by public pledges of professional ethics and service undertaken by advisers, which were conveyed via newspapers, together with a Seminar held at DBS Auditorium.

Lobby FPAS President
  James Sim, President of FPAS
   
Guest of Honour Q&A
Guest of Honour, Yeo Guat Kwang, President of Ms Annette King taking questions from the floor...
CASE & Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC  

The NFPD Lecture at the Seminar was provocatively presented by Professor Wee Chow Hou, who spoke on Dare to Win - Insights from Sun Zi Bingfa. Prof Wee is renowned for his sharp wit and keen interest in business strategy, leadership and brand development.
 
FPAS Essay Competition
Closing date: 28 February 2011
 
Topic: Financial planning should be a way of life in Singapore. Discuss how this can be achieved by consumers at their various stages of life? What steps should be taken by the financial industry and by government authorities to further promote financial planning in Singapore?

FPAS initiated this essay competition to commemorate National Financial Planning Day. The competition is open to students and working professionals. For more information, please go to: http://fpas.org.sg/download/FPAS-Essay-Competition.pdf

2ND LIFE PROTECTION SEMINAR
Selling cover beyond the basic national schemes
5 October 2010

Audience1 Audience2

Some 90 participants from the life insurance fraternity in Singapore attended the one-day Seminar held at the M Hotel.
 
Tan Hak Leh, President of the LIA referred to anecdotal evidence from member companies, which showed increased take-up rate of protection products over the years. However, a look at the average payout per death claim of $40,000 - $45,000 indicates that significant under-insurance remains.

LIA President SAS President

Ms Jill Hoffman, President of the Singapore Actuarial Society said, "Given ever-increasing life expectancies and changing demographics, there is a greater need to ensure that Singaporeans are financially prepared for the unexpected and for their retirement years. Through seminars like this, actuaries and life insurance professionals can meet on a common platform to exchange views and share best practices to help drive product innovation and deeper consumer understanding of their needs to achieve the much-needed financial security."

Mr Don Yeo

The Guest of Honour was Don Yeo, Deputy CEO of the CPF Board, who spoke on Addressing the Retirement and Protection Needs of Singaporeans.
 
Among the popularly-received presentations were:

  • Longevity & Annuities: Insights & Stories from Singapore, Asia & Elsewhere (by Swiss Re)
  • Business Protection (by Friends Provident)
  • Developing Protection Products: Concept to Delivery (by Munich Re)

CEO Round Table

A CEO Round Table concluded the exchanges on a high note.
 
LIA Social Networking
8 November 2010

LIA Drinks - Photo 1 LIA Drinks - Photo 2

Held at The Waterboat House, located opposite the Fullerton Hotel and facing the Marina Bay skyline, the evening sky was studded with a diamond canopy of twinkling stars.

Courtesy call by Beijing Insurance Association (BIA)
22 November 2010

Beijing Insurance Association

BIA    Lu Xiu Ping, Assistant Secretary General
China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC),  
- Beijing Insurance Bureau Research Department    Huang Fang
Hua Tai Insurance, Beijing Branch Office    Qi Xiao Bing, Asst General Manager
Tai Ping Yang Insurance, Beijing Branch Office    Hao Xiao Po, I.T. Manager
Xing Hua Life Insurance, Beijing Branch Office    An Zheng Feng, Marketing Manager
Tai Kang Life Insurance, Beijing Branch Office    Chen Qun Hua, Training Manager
Xing Cheng Life Insurance, Beijing Branch Office    Yan Yan, Head of Training

LIA hosted a study delegation from Beijing. A brief presentation on the work of the LIA was made. The visitors proceeded to the General Insurance Association of Singapore for a similar session.
 
Manulife Singapore launches campaign, For Your Future
23 November 2010

Manulife Campaign

According to Manulife Singapore, its first-ever island-wide branding campaign, "For your future", expresses the insurer's commitment to excellence in providing financial protection and wealth management solutions that benefit clients and their families.

The campaign theme "Step up to Manulife, for your future" goes with four green cubes inspired by the Manulife logo, each bearing the attributes of strength, reliability, trustworthiness and forward-thinking. Three-dimensional cubes are used to portray a family taking steps to fulfil their dreams.

Manulife Campaign - Photo 1 Manulife Campaign - Photo 2

"With over 110 years of history in Asia and 30 years in Singapore, Singapore is an integral part of our growth strategy and through this campaign, we want to reach out to all Singaporeans across the island," said Ms Annette King, President and CEO. "'Manulife - For your future' is also our brand promise and keeping this promise means we are here to help Singaporeans secure their future and are committed to helping our clients grow."

ASEAN Insurance Council Meetings
24-26 November 2010, Manila

The ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC) is a non-governmental organisation set up under the auspices of ASEAN with a Permanent Secretariat based in Jakarta headed by the Secretary-General. All life and general insurance associations of ASEAN countries are members.

ASEAN Insurance Council Meeting 2010

Over the years, interest groups have been added as well as training projects, which have gained growing prestige in recent years.

Separate meetings are concurrently held for:

  • ASEAN Insurance Regulators
  • ASEAN Insurance Council
  • ASEAN Council of Bureaux
  • ASEAN Natural Disasters Research Works Sharing
  • ASEAN Insurance Education Committee

All industry delegates participate in the dialogue session with the ASEAN insurance regulators. The most anticipated concern raised was how insurance industries in the region could prepare for implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) by 2015.

Young ASEAN Insurance Managers Award (YAMA)

The top three "YAMA" finalists were from the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore (Koh Hong Kwan from Great Eastern Life). The Filipino candidate emerged the winner.

This highly sought after Award was introduced by the AIC to identify outstanding young managers with promising achievements in their insurance careers and recognise their future leadership potential.

3rd ASEAN School for Young Insurance Managers (AYIM)
20-26 November 2010, Manila
 
For details of the intensive six-day programme:
www.scicollege.org.sg/AYIM2010

AYIM Photo 1 AYIM Photo 2

The Singapore College of Insurance runs AYIM for the AIC. Aimed at building up and grooming promising executives and managers below age 35 for future leadership roles, the Programme focuses on developing management and leadership competencies in the context of the insurance business.
 
Participants in Manila not only benefited from the formal lectures but also from interactions with fellow participants from the region, as well as networking with senior industry leaders from ASEAN. They were accorded a dialogue with the ASEAN insurance regulators and AIC delegation heads.
 
The next AIC Meetings will be held in Singapore on 23-25 November 2011, and are co-organised by MAS, GIA and LIA.
 
Zurich International Life celebrates 5th Anniversary
25 November 2010

Zurich Anniversary - Photo 1 Zurich Anniversary - Photo 2

Zurich International Life (ZIL) celebrated the 5th Anniversary of the opening of its Singapore Branch at Hotel Fort Canning on 25 November 2010. Accompanied by live band music, exciting games and fabulous food, over 200 guests and ZIL representatives had a delightful and memorable evening.
 
Neal Armstrong, General Manager & Principal Officer of ZIL Singapore Branch, said, "We have demonstrated our dedication to providing excellent financial solutions and services to customers. We are committed to sustain our strong presence and further expand our business in Singapore."

Industry News

Amendments to MAS Notice 307
- Product Highlights Sheet (PHS)

 
Extract from MAS Response on Investment-Linked Life Insurance Policies
 
5.1.6 Amendments will be made to the Notice on Investment-Linked Life Insurance Policies [MAS 307] to implement the requirement for the Product Highlights Sheet for investment-linked life policy sub-funds. New investment-linked life policy sub-funds submitted on or after 1 March 2011 will need to comply with the Product Highlights Sheet requirements. For existing investment-linked life policy sub-funds, there will be a one-year transition period for compliance with the Product Highlights Sheet requirements. Insurers are required to prepare and submit the Product Highlights Sheet for their existing investment-linked life policy sub-funds by 30 November 2011, to ensure that all existing investment-linked life policy sub-funds are in compliance by 1 March 2012. For an existing investment-linked life policy sub-fund that feeds 100% into an authorised or recognised CIS, and for which the Product Highlights Sheet contains information largely similar to the Product Highlights Sheet of the underlying CIS other than information on "Fees and Charges" and "Contact Information", insurers need not submit the Product Highlights Sheet on the investment-linked life policy sub-fund to MAS, given that the information in the Product Highlights Sheet of the underlying CIS would have been submitted to MAS.
 
***

For ILPs, the amended Notice 307, which will cover the PHS requirements, is expected to be released by MAS by 24 December 2010.

Staff Movement

GE Group CEO

Great Eastern (GE) Holdings announced the appointment of 43-year-old Canadian Christopher Wei as group chief executive. He will join GE in February next year. Christopher was most recently the executive vice-president and group chief marketing officer of AIA based in Hong Kong.

Q&A with Koh Hong Kwan

The Head of Agency Recruitment at Great Eastern Life, Koh Hong Kwan, has a challenging job -  that is, to promote a career in insurance to a highly reserved public.

"Singaporeans are generally less receptive to a career in the insurance sector. My job has become more challenging with the tightening of the labour market and evolving expectations of younger job seekers," said the 35-year-old. "As such, there's a constant need for me to find innovative ways to market a job in insurance and at Great Eastern as a prime career choice."

Hong Kwan restructured the recruitment process and rolled out a host of insurance career marketing tools and materials, including a full-fledged career website for Great Eastern Life.

The go-getter's tenacity has certainly paid off. Under his leadership, Great Eastern Life recruitment numbers have been the highest since the last 10 years of the company's history. 

Hong Kwan's stellar performance and contribution towards the advancement of the insurance industry was duly recognized. He was recently selected as one of the three finalists for this year's Young ASEAN Manager Award by the ASEAN Insurance Training & Research Institute. 

Koh Hong Kwan - Second from the Right

Asked about his thoughts on being nominated for the highly coveted award, Hong Kwan said, "I was truly honoured to learn that my company had nominated me for the award. I was even more thrilled when my achievements were recognized at a regional level when I was selected as one of the finalists."

Hong Kwan also participated in the ASEAN School for Young Insurance Managers (AYIM) programme in Manila, Philippines, aimed at building promising young executives and managers for future leadership roles within their organizations.

 "I enjoyed learning from my peers from across Southeast Asia. Learning how they are developing the micro-insurance market to reach the low-income sector was truly fascinating. I also learned that despite the cultural differences, we face very similar problems," shared the rising star. 

We caught up with Hong Kwan to find out more about his life beyond work:

What are your leisure pursuits?

Not many people would know this but I am into music production. I have my own studio at home, and enjoy creating music, recordings, album covers and so on. I do quite a bit of music production for Great Eastern events.

This may shock a few but I also enjoy national service. My national service journey runs in parallel with my career. I have gained a lot of experience from national service, particularly strategic planning, leadership, and management. This has contributed tremendously in shaping me as a person and my career at Great Eastern.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Like many others, I just want to do the best I can in life. We only live once so we must make every moment count. I always remember a Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) video I watched, where Les Brown said, "Why settle for excellence, when greatness is within your reach."

Tell us about a little-known fact about yourself.

I'm colour-blind!  I'm pretty good at developing beautiful, color-coordinated presentation slides ... without actually knowing what colours were used!

 A couple of my proudest moments were....

Koh Hong Kwan - Far left

As part of my national service commitment, I attended the command and staff course this year at the Singapore Command and Staff College. I was very proud to be one of the Distinguished Graduates award winners. It's such an honour to be considered amongst the creme de la creme. 

I was once afraid of heights. In my early years in Great Eastern Life, I managed its in-house scholarship programme. I brought every cohort to a team building challenge which included an eight-storey high flying fox. By the third time I flew down the flying fox, I knew I had conquered one of my own primal fears.

Complete the sentence:  I love life because...

There's so much to see, so much to do, and so many ways I can enhance myself!

Q&A with Annette King

Annette King, President and CEO of Manulife Singapore, by all accounts has had a successful career. Not one to rest on her laurels, she is passionate about bringing her company to greater heights. Asked about her current position, she was notably enthused.

"I love my new role as CEO of Manulife Singapore as it gives me the challenge of changing the status quo and growing the business profitably. Manulife has a strong agency as well as bank and FA distribution and I believe if we always focus on our customers, in everything we do, it will bear fruit in our business results and our contribution to society."

Annette's career in insurance and wealth management began when she won a scholarship with Australian firm, Colonial, at the early age of 17. Prior to joining Manulife in March this year, the trained actuary was Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer in AXA Singapore. She moved to Singapore in 2004 when she was offered the CFO position with AXA Singapore.

In between work, Annette manages to find time to fulfil her responsibilities as Chair of the Public Relations committee for the Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS), working with stakeholders to promote the profession.

We spoke with Annette to find out more about her life beyond work.

Annette King - Family 2

What in particular, for better or for worse, surprises you about Singapore? 

I love the weather in Singapore! I know that surprises some people but those who know me know that I like being warm!

I also love hawker food and I can eat more chilli than most Singaporeans.

Lastly, I love being able to exercise outdoors anytime of the day, or night, because Singapore is such a safe country.

 

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

Annette King - Family 1

My kids wind me down (and up)! I'm always focused on my family when I'm with them. I am a big believer in "being present" in whatever you're doing at a point in time, be it work, family, volunteer work or exercise.

Exercising is really important to me so I'll always find time to hit the gym, do Pilates, walk, run, play tennis or cycle.  

Tell us about a little-known fact about yourself.

I was the school swimming champion (that's tough in Australia!)

Annette King and Husband

A couple of my proudest moments were....

Definitely the birth of my 3 kids and my marriage to my university sweetheart, Mark, whom I'm now married to for 17 years. I am also proud to lead Manulife in Singapore and uphold our PRIDE values of Professionalism, Real Value to Customers, Integrity, Demonstrated Financial Strength and Employer of Choice. 

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

It is ever-changing and Singapore is a great place to enjoy it!

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