Issue No. 8 October - December 2011
Message from the PresidentIndustry Events
Industry NewsQ&A with Dr Leow Yung Khee

Message from the President

LIA PresidentIndustry Performance

Following a 38 per cent growth in sales for the first half of this year compared to 2010, the life insurance sector saw new business increasing at a more moderate pace, registering 18 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the corresponding period last year.

The $523 million in weighted* new business premiums received in the third quarter was lead by the bancassurance channel, comprising largely savings products.

Weighted regular premium sales reached $345.7 million, a 19 per cent growth over the same quarter last year. Single premium business rose by 16 per cent to $177.3 million.

Amidst intensified global economic uncertainties, our industry achieved growth of 18 per cent. However, it is critical for life insurance companies to remain vigilant and proactively manage their business to safeguard the long-term financial soundness of the industry.

*Weighted new business premium: 10% SPI + 100% API, adjusted for premium payment terms of less than 10 years

2011 Roundup

It has been a very busy year for the Association and its members as can be seen by a glance at the major developments and events undertaken, and by this bumper issue of LifeWire.

  • LIA Annual Luncheon (March)
  • LIA Radio Broadcasts for Consumers in English and Mandarin (June to September)
  • LIA Paper on Singapore Life Insurance Industry Development (July)
  • Revised Reference Check Form issued (August)
  • 25th Pacific Insurance Conference (September)
  • Industry-Wide Business Continuity Exercise Raffles III (September)
  • LIA Public Service Advertisements in English and Mandarin on Policy Owners Protection Fund Scheme (September)
  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Company Training & Competency Plan for Life Insurance Representatives issued (October)
  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Continuing Professional Development of Life Insurance Representatives issued (October)
  • 37th ASEAN Insurance Council Meeting (November)
  • Letter of Intent signed by IMAS and LIA with M/s fundinfo AG (December)
  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Life Insurance Advisory Process issued (December)

50 Golden Years, 1962 | 2012

The Life Insurance Association Singapore was registered in 1962 as a not-for-profit trade body. We are planning special activities to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012. The highlight will be a gala dinner to be held on 26 March and we are delighted that the Managing Director of MAS will be our Guest of Honour.

I wish industry colleagues, readers and friends all the best for a fruitful and fulfilling year ahead.

President's Signature

Tan Hak Leh

Industry Events

2nd Financial Planning Day
30 September 2011, NTUC Auditorium

 Pledge
Speaker1  Speaker2
  Group Photo

More than 400 financial planning practitioners and guests from FPAS, IFPAS, SFSP, AFA(S), FPAM and UniSIM graced the second Financial Planning Day on 30th September 2011.

FPAS President, Ms Kimmis Pun, announced the cross-border recognition of the CFP® mark with FPAM (Financial Planning Association of Malaysia) and the FPAS recognition of UniSIM's business graduates in their pursuit of a CFP® mark.

Mr Noel Maye, FPSB's CEO exhorted the practitioners to continue their strides towards professionalizing this noble calling, with renewed vigilance in ethics, competence and practice.

Ms Annette King, President and CEO of Manulife (Singapore) Pte Ltd, spoke on "What's the game plan for the market place". She stressed that the key to a relationship was the client's trust that the practitioner had the client's interest at heart.

Mr Christopher Wei, Group CEO of Great Eastern spoke on client-centric strategy, to ensure an ongoing engagement with clients.

Mr Richard Vargo (Group MD Bancassurance for DBS Bank) theme was the STP ("serve the people") toolkit DBS used for engaging with clients.

Mr Lance Tay, Head of Partnership Distribution for Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore shared on "Planning for the Third Age". This was critical as Singapore's worsening age-dependancy ratio would result in smaller tax base to support Singapore.

Great Eastern Life wins Asia Insurance Industry Award for Life Insurer of the Year
31 October 2011

Singapore's Great Eastern Life Assurance received the prestigious Life Insurer of the Year Award at the 15th Asia Insurance Industry Awards Gala Dinner on 31 October. The event was attended by over 600 practitioners from the Asia-Pacific region.

Asia Insurance Industry Award - Winner

The Award recognised Great Eastern as a market leader in Singapore and the company scored highly for:

  • its good understanding of customers, which enabled Great Eastern to keep its leadership position in the face of strong competition and retain its pole position in bancassurance for ten consecutive years
  • its innovative spirit - the first to introduce an early payout critical illness plan; the first local insurer to launch a universal life plan; the first with a hybrid FA model, Great Eastern Financial Advisers, which combines the strength of a major insurer and an independent financial adviser
  • its professional and highly productive agency force
  • its good use of technology to enhance efficiency and productivity
  • its excellent customer service and value-added products
  • its sound financial management - Standard & Poor's accorded Great Eastern one of the highest ratings for insurers in Asia

Commented Dr Khoo Kah Siang, General Manager (Singapore): "This is indeed a great honour for Great Eastern and I would like to thank the panel of judges and Asia Insurance Review for this wonderful recognition. We have been serving the insurance needs of Singaporeans for 103 years and have always put customers at the heart of everything we do. This accolade would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of every member of the Great Eastern family and the Award will spur us to even greater heights as we continue to better serve our customers and strive to be the industry benchmark."

Generali International opens office in Singapore
2 November 2011, Tower Club, Republic Plaza

Generali - Photo1

Generali International Limited has opened an office in Singapore and appointed Malcolm Humphryes as its General Manager and Principal Officer.

Generali - Photo2

The branch celebrated its entry by holding a launch party at the Tower Club on 2 November 2011, which was attended by many principals and members of the local Financial Adviser community along with Generali staff from Europe and Asia.

Generali - Photo3

Mr Humphryes expressed his excitement at this venture: "Singapore is a unique, exciting and booming economy providing organisations like Generali International with significant opportunities. We are grateful for all of the support that we have already received from the MAS, the LIA and the broader adviser community. We look forward to becoming an important player in this market and at the same time expanding the choice available to consumers."

Also speaking at the event, Mr Nick Griffin, Head of Sales for Generali International, reflected on the thinking behind the company's decision to enter the Singapore market: "Our business has grown rapidly in recent years and the Far East is a key territory for us. Singapore is a dynamic market with a strong international reputation and is therefore a natural choice for us to establish a presence there."

Generali - Photo4

Generali International is in the process of rolling out a range of highly versatile, insurance-based investment planning solutions. Meeting the needs of investors with a wide range of aspirations and attitudes requires a flexible product range. The company's offering includes the award-winning regular premium Vision product, as well as their single premium offerings, Choice and Professional Portfolio.

Generali International's office in Singapore is located at The Tung Centre, Collyer Quay.

SMU Conference on Long-Term Care for the Aged
11 November 2011, Singapore Management University

SMU Conference - Photo1

While individuals are blessed with longer lifespan, their final years are often stricken with chronic and debilitating illnesses that require long-term care. Countries face the tremendous challenge of setting up a practical and affordable framework to deliver efficient and cost-effective long-term care to their citizens. Besides the medical aspects, a key challenge is how to finance such care.

SMU Conference - Photo2

Should long-term care be primarily financed by public funds or should it be funded by a mix of public and private funds?

SMU Conference - Photo3

Comprising industry practitioners, academics, medical and other experts, the speakers shared programmes undertaken in Europe, Japan, Singapore and the US to help the elderly age with dignity.

SMU Conference - Photo4

Ms Shirley Tan from Aviva represented the Singapore life insurance industry and spoke on the role of private financing and how insurance products for long-term care could be effectively designed.

Shirley's presentation can be viewed on http://www.smu.edu.sg/institutes/skbife/events/CSS%20conference%202011/download/slides/CSS%20conference%2011Nov11%20TAN6.pdf

Singapore hosts the 37th ASEAN Insurance Council Meeting
23 - 25 November 2011, Marina Mandarin

AIC Meeting - Photo1
AIC Meeting - Photo2

The Singapore insurance industry hosted the 37th ASEAN Insurance Council Meeting (AIC) and the 14th ASEAN Insurance Regulators' Meeting from 23 to 25 November. Mr Lee Boon Ngiap, Assistant Managing Director, MAS, was the Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker.

The annual gathering was attended by more than 80 delegates from the ten ASEAN member countries. Gearing up for the 2015 implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was a focus of discussion.

AIC Meeting - Photo3

The highlight was the plenary session between the ASEAN insurance regulators and the ASEAN insurance industries, where questions and answers were freely exchanged in a relaxed ambience, which is the hallmark of these discussions.

Also part of the three-day programme was the presentation of the coveted Young ASEAN Insurance Manager Award.

Established in 1978, the AIC is the NGO responsible for co-operation amongst the insurance industries of the ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. This council of ASEAN insurance associations aims to enhance professional standards, promote competency of young managers in member countries and foster co-operation as a regional economic bloc vis-a-vis other regions of the world.

The 37th ASEAN Insurance Council Meeting and the 14th ASEAN Insurance Regulators' Meeting were jointly organised by General Insurance Association (GIA), Life Insurance Association (LIA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in cooperation with the AIC Secretariat.

Annual Young ASEAN Manager Award
Winner for 2011: Kevin Koh, Manulife Singapore

The ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC), realising the importance of encouraging young insurance managers in ASEAN to strive and mature into the best, initiated the Young ASEAN Manager Award. An annual event since 2005, YAMA is organised by the ASEAN Insurance Training & Research Institute (AITRI).

This award honours outstanding young managers for their achievements, contributions and dedication. Award winners serve as role models to inspire others to become leaders in the business. They are catalysts in shaping a dynamic workforce for insurance markets in ASEAN countries.

Criteria for candidates

  1. 40 years old and below
  2. ASEAN national
  3. At least five years of experience in insurance
  4. Competent; shown outstanding leadership within the company and industry
  5. Innovative and creative in managing people and the business
  6. Successful in undertaking a very difficult management or business task
  7. Contributes to promotion of the image of the insurance industry

Warmest congratulations to...

Winner
Koh Kok Keong, Kevin - Manulife, Singapore

Runner-up
Ms Nursuryati bte Mahmud - Manulife, Singapore

Runner-up
Wong Chung Chiat - P.T. Asuransi Jiwa Sequis Life, Indonesia

Q&A with Kevin Koh

"As long as you're green, you're growing. The moment you think you're ripe, you start to rot."

This is Kevin's word of advice to future young leaders of the insurance industry when he quoted Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds in his interview with LifeWire. He added: "A leader should always be the one making things happen and not be a 'bystander', so that you can take the lead in resolving challenges. In addition, leaders should possess qualities like integrity, humility, the strong desire to learn from others, and should esteem others better than themselves."

YAMA 2011 - Photo1Kevin Koh, Assistant Vice President (AVP), Head of Information Technology at Manulife (Singapore) Pte Ltd emerged as the recent winner of the prestigious Young ASEAN Insurance Managers Award (YAMA) 2011.

Kevin, who recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Masters of Management in Information Technology (MMIT), embarked on his 16-year career in the insurance industry when he joined Manulife as a programmer in 1995. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to the Head of Business Systems in 2007 and Deputy IT Head of Department in 2010. Throughout his stint at Manulife, he had been given abundant opportunities for growth and development including the chance to nurture and mentor talents around him, and lead his team in a challenging outsourcing project.

In his current role, Kevin oversees a 25-man strong IT division that comprises of Application Development, Business Systems and Technology Services. He told LifeWire that although his job offers him the unique opportunity to witness developments from both the business and technology perspectives, he constantly faces the challenge of seeking opportunities to leverage on technology in its business operations and market activities to effectively and efficiently achieve the company's goals.

On his thoughts about winning YAMA 2011, he said: "I'm definitely honoured to be part of Manulife Financial when I won this award. During this period, I'd received tremendous support and endorsement from my CEO, Ms Annette King (who nominated me), my COO, Mr Chong Teck Chung (who is my sponsor), and my Senior Leadership Team. Also, being the first winner from the IT sector, I hope that it will inspire others in the same sector to step forward and actively contribute and engage in their companies so that they become a voice and not an echo."

YAMA 2011 - Photo2

So, what motivated him to participate in YAMA 2011? - His earnest desire to learn from other key leaders within ASEAN and broaden his horizon beyond Singapore, whilst being able to contribute to the ASEAN community.

Kevin ranks his ability to coach and mentor his peers to achieve significant performances as one of his strengths. In addition, when in face of any challenge, he is thankful for his IT background as he is able to leverage on his knowledge to craft practical, business-oriented and end-to-end solutions, even though some solutions may not be IT-related. However, he acknowledged that his over analysis of information often gets him paralysed as he would face an overload of information. To overcome this weakness, he ensures that he keeps to a 15-minute time frame to prevent him from over analysing.

Kevin is married to his lovely wife, Aileen and have two children (a boy and a girl), Josiah who is eight years old and Vera Achsah who is six years old. After a hard day's work, the father-of-two enjoys spending quality time with his family, be it watching Korean drama serials together or strolling down the aisles of supermarkets. He also listens to Christian music, read books and magazines related to personal development, leadership, management, food, design and decor to unwind.

Kevin Koh - Photo1 Kevin Koh - Photo2

With the New Year approaching, Kevin shared with LifeWire his resolutions for the year ahead and some personal facts about himself. He wishes everyone a good success and a purposeful 2012!

Q: Share with us some of your New Year resolutions for 2012.

  1. I want to build meaningful relationships. Most of the time, people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. This is quite challenging for me since I'm a task-oriented person, nonetheless I'll continue to work on it.
  2. To be fit, healthy and in shape.

Q: What are your leisure pursuits?

I love listening to Jazz and R&B music, jog and work out at the gym to de-stress and it also helps me to remain focused at work. Apart from that, I also enjoy collecting nice quotes and phrases as I use them to communicate my thoughts across to the audience.

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

I play the drums with keen interests in fusion, funk and Latin music.

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

  1. The day my wife and I got married (It's been a wonderful 10 years journey now!) and definitely, the birth of my two lovely kids.
  2. During the time when I had to juggle between completing my final modules for my Masters programme and being part of my company's IT leadership team to lead a very challenging outsourced project despite not having any prior experience. It was definitely a worthwhile experience as the project turned out successful and I was also selected as the valedictorian for the graduating class.

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

It is a gift from God and we should cherish every moment - to love, to learn, to give and to nurture others.

IMAS and LIA announce partnership with fundinfo AG to enhance investor accessibility to fund documents - 1 December 2011

fundsingapore.com

The Investment Management Association of Singapore (IMAS) and Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) have signed a Letter of Intent with fundinfo AG (fundinfo), a cross-border platform for fund documents, fund manager videos and mandatory fund publications.  

FundInfo Signing Ceremony - Photo1 FundInfo Signing Ceremony - Photo2

This partnership gives Singapore investors free access to more than one million fund documents, which include fund prospectuses, financial statements, monthly reports and product highlight sheets of most unit trusts sold in Singapore at one online location: fundsingapore.com
 
The fundsingapore.com portal was launched in April 2003 by IMAS and LIA to provide reliable and timely information on unit trusts and investment-linked life insurance products, with the aim of supporting Singapore investors in their making of financial decisions.

Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company and fund research service provider, maintains the fundsingapore.com portal and has made improvements, giving investors direct access to fund documents located on the fundinfo platform. Investors are also able to access fund manager videos featuring latest investment insights and market forecasts.

FundInfo Signing Ceremony - Photo3

Michael Lim, Executive Director of IMAS said: "Facilitating access for everyone in the retail investment process to original fund documents of fund providers is an important charge of IMAS in our mission to promote transparency and efficiency in the Singapore funds industry."

Pauline Lim, Executive Director of LIA said: "Providing Singapore consumers with a one-stop online depository of fund documents is an important industry contribution in fulfilling Fair Dealing whereby customers receive clear, relevant and timely information to make informed financial decisions."

Philipp Portmann, Chief Executive Officer of fundinfo said: "We are excited to be part of the Singapore fund market through our cooperation with IMAS and LIA and our own website www.fundinfo.com. We offer asset managers a cost-effective and business-efficient service along with the opportunity to greatly increase the transparency and extend the reach of the information provided, such as fund documents. Valued partners such as fundsingapore.com enable us to achieve this goal in Singapore and several other markets in Asia and Europe."

FundInfo Signing Ceremony - Photo4

fundinfo

Since 2005, Fundinfo Limited of Switzerland and its affiliate fundinfo Asia Limited pioneered and operate an innovative database and internet platform for investment funds and ETFs, promoting greater transparency and efficiency in the European and Asian fund and ETF markets.

fundinfo acts as a document warehouse for local and international asset managers for all fund documents and as a single point of entry for rapid and efficient distribution to public financial and fund platforms, banks, IFAs and retail investors. In addition, fundinfo represents a new supplement to traditional forms of advertising - print advertisement, fund listing, online banner - as fundinfo publishes original documents of fund houses on a large number of financial information platforms, thereby increasing the visibility of the funds.

Contact: Doris Tse | Sales Director Asia, fundinfo Asia | doris.tse@fundinfo.com | +852 3750 7748

Industry News

LIA Guidelines issued

  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Company Training & Competency Plan for Life Insurance Representatives (October)

http://www.lia.org.sg/files/document_holder/Continuing_Professional_Development/MU3111(LIA_TC).pdf

  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Continuing Professional Development of Life Insurance Representatives (October)

http://www.lia.org.sg/files/document_holder/Continuing_Professional_Development/MU4711(LIA_CPD).pdf

  • Revised LIA Minimum Standard for Life Insurance Advisory Process issued (December)

http://www.lia.org.sg/files/news/2011/12/MU2011(LIA_FF).pdf

Visitors from LIA Japan
4 October 2011

Japan LIA Visit - Photo1
Japan LIA Visit - Photo2 Japan LIA Visit - Photo3
Japan LIA Visit - Photo4

Two senior officials from the Life Insurance Association of Japan, Mr Shizuharu Kubono, a Vice-Chairman, and Mr Masashi Kuzuna, General Manager for Planning, were hosted to a lively and interesting exchange of views by the President of LIA Singapore, Mr Tan Hak Leh, and the Executive Director, Ms Pauline Lim.

The visitors were knowledgeable students and keen observers of Singapore's social security system, asking many questions on the role of private life insurers in providing retirement funding and healthcare financing solutions.

Manulife Centre opens in the heart of Singapore
11 November 2011

Manulife Move - PhotoManulife Singapore celebrated the opening of its new Manulife Centre, located in the heart of Singapore on Bras Basah Road on the auspicious date, 11.11.11. The multi-million dollar Centre is now home for over 1,000 Manulifers, including all staff and 22 agency divisions.

Manulife Centre introduces premier client meeting areas, adviser and staff offices and latest technological solutions, such as e-printing and wireless connectivity.

A Client Service Centre on the ground level offers extended hours to attend to customers.
 
Ms Annette King, President and CEO of Manulife Singapore said: "Our new Centre represents another important milestone in the continuous growth of Manulife Singapore and reflects our service-centric philosophy. This is the place to integrate our agency force and staff for greater synergy and productivity, the place to grow and bring us together as one Manulife."

LIA Singapore office is moving to new premises
February 2012

79 Anson Road #11-05

The Association office will be relocating in early February 2012 to 79 Anson Road #11-05.

Q&A with Dr Leow Yung Khee

With a stellar academic record and an illustrious career portfolio, it is no wonder why Dr. Leow is the most suitable candidate for her current position. As the Executive Vice President (EVP) of the General and Group Insurance at Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited and Overseas Assurance Corporation Limited, Dr. Leow oversees the operations and business performance of the two business lines.

Dr. Leow graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S), and is a fellow of the Life Management Institute of the United States of America.

She began her eight-year career in the medical industry as a medical doctor in the government service for three years and a general practitioner for five years. However, with work-life balance as her top priority, the mother-of-two made a career switch after the birth of her first child as the irregular shifts of a doctor made it almost impossible for her to spend quality time with her child.

Dr Leow - Photo1

Dr. Leow joined the insurance industry and became the Medical Director of a composite insurance company and managed the underwriting and life and medical insurance claims. Fortunately, she was given abundant training and development opportunities which helped to equip her with relevant skills for subsequent leadership roles she held (Head of New Business department and Head of Group Insurance) in the company.

Prior to joining Great Eastern, Dr. Leow was at the Monetary Authority of Singapore for six years, where she was the Division Head and Director of the Insurance Supervision department and oversaw the general and reinsurance industry.

In addition, she was the key architect of the Singapore Health Insurance Regulatory Framework and participated in many health insurance initiatives including the MediShield and ElderShield - which she finds an honour as she was able to contribute to the nation and industry.
 
Her strong determination and genuine nature has proven to be an attribute to her success. "I will put my mind to make it happen if I believe in a particular cause," she added.

Dr. Leow admitted that she is very particular about deadlines and finds that it becomes a weakness of hers at times, especially when her unnecessary anxiety gets the better of her. Despite being a highly focused, dependable and outcome-orientated individual, she is very supportive of her staff and cares about their well-being. "It is a joy to see my staff grow as an individual and in their jobs. I like being their mentor to groom them to the best of their ability."

In between work, Dr. Leow finds time to fulfill her duties as the Convenor of the Life Insurance Association Group Insurance Sub Committee, as well as the Deputy Convernor of the General Insurance Association (Work Injury and Personal Accident and Health) Sub Committee. Apart from bringing member companies together to work towards the common interest of the insurance industry, she also leads the team in providing advice to government agencies to ensure that new regulations set are practical and equitable to the industry and the consumers.

She spoke to LifeWire about her life beyond work.

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

I'd head to the gym to exercise, read magazines or watch television to get my mind off things.

Q: What are some of your leisure pursuits? 

One of my favourite pastimes is reading - from non-friction to politics to humanity to history, I love reading them all. I enjoy travelling as well, especially on cruises where the atmosphere is relaxing and peaceful. Thus far, I've taken the cruise to Alaska and the Mediterranean and it was an amazing experience.

Dr Leow - Photo2

Q: My proudest moment was....

When I was accepted into medical school, as it proved that all my hard work paid off. Going into the medical profession had always been my dream as I wanted to do something that can help other people. If I had not become a doctor, I'd probably head into the education sector to become a teacher like my late mother and two sisters.

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

Life is a journey and we take each step with great faith and composure.

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