Customers should be at heart of bancassurance partnerships: Manulife Vietnam

August 24, 2022 - 12:17
Việt Nam is an important market for Manulife and bancassurance presents many opportunities to grow our business and protect even more customers.
Mark Chapman, incoming Chief Partnership Distribution Officer for Manulife Vietnam. — Photo courtesy of Manulife Vietnam

Despite COVID-19, Việt Nam’s bancassurance market still achieved impressive growth over the past year. We met with Mark Chapman, incoming Chief Partnership Distribution Officer for Manulife Vietnam, to discuss the channel’s growth potential and how the global insurer is working with its three exclusive local bank partners to address current societal and customer needs.

Bancassurance is a vital distribution channel for life insurers. Where do you see its biggest opportunity for growth, and how will this channel support the Government’s vision for having 15 per cent of the Vietnamese population participating in life insurance by 2025?

Việt Nam is an important market for Manulife and bancassurance presents many opportunities to grow our business and protect even more customers.

These opportunities come first and foremost from Việt Nam’s favourable demographic conditions, which also shape its economic growth.

Việt Nam’s GDP is expected to maintain an average growth rate of 7 per cent per year until 2025. Furthermore, it’s forecast that more than 50 per cent of Việt Nam’s population with rapidly growing incomes will enter the global middle class by 2035.

As GDP and income increase, health protection, savings, and investment demand also surge. As such, it also creates greater demand for life insurance solutions.

The ageing population and decreasing birthrate further present growth prospects for bancassurance, especially given the growing need for retirement planning and shifting cultural norms that will result in more self-reliance in old age.

Moreover, the life insurance penetration rate is still relatively low in Việt Nam. Just 11 per cent of Việt Nam’s population participated in life insurance in 2021, while life premiums were just 2.3 to 2.8 cents of total GDP.

In 2021, the bancassurance channel accounted for about 39 per cent of the total first-year premiums of life insurance and was expected to reach 50 per cent by 2025. We are on track for continued bancassurance growth, and I believe this will, in turn, help our industry address the government’s 15 per cent target by 2025.

What does a successful bancassurance partnership look like?

While bancassurance partnerships contribute to the financial bottom line for the bank and insurer, this doesn’t always solely define success. To me, a successful bancassurance partnership must provide win-win-win benefits for all": most importantly the Customer."

For any partnership to be successful, several key ingredients can help both sides make the most of the potential opportunity. Partners need to be aligned with their vision and strategy from the beginning. This includes how an insurer can integrate into the bank’s customer journey to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The education of staff engaging with customers is a key foundation, ensuring professional advice is provided that will provide a platform for people to make an informed decision on their initial and ongoing circumstances.

How both partners use customer data and analytics helps target consumer segments and optimise lead generation and post-sales service. Finally, an aligned focus on digital experiences and integrated ecosystems will ensure customers are considered at every touchpoint and have the option to engage as and when they prefer. When we do the right thing for the customer, the bank and insurer will be looked after.

Manulife Vietnam has three exclusive distribution agreements with VietinBank, Techcombank and Saigon Commercial Bank.

To put this in perspective, we now have access to over 25 per cent of the Vietnamese population thanks to the bank’s customer base, allowing us to provide advice and solutions to drive financial security for even more people.

Manulife Vietnam is the exclusive provider of bancassurance solutions to VietinBank customers, effective from December 29, 2021. — Photo courtesy of Manulife Vietnam

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital for customers, with these new habits expected to continue well into the future. How has Manulife Vietnam’s bancassurance channel pivoted to ensure that digital solutions align with current societal and customer needs?

COVID-19 has intensified demand for innovative, digital, cross-channel solutions, which requires insurers and bank partners to collaborate better to transform insurance delivery digitally.

Over the past few years, we have focused on integrating our market-leading digital and customer experience solutions into our bank partners’ platforms.

Our bank advisers now have access to the ePOS digital point of sales solution that will help them provide needs-based solutions for customers, paperless document submission, and reduce complexity during onboarding. Customers also benefit from an improved claims experience with eClaims, enabling them to submit claims digitally, and in the majority of cases, the decisions can be made automatically.

Recently, we launched our first ever digital product Max Song Khoe through VietinBank’s iPay banking app. This is part of an ‘omnichannel’ approach, allowing customers to access solutions that cater to their personal preferences or experiences.

In the digital era, leveraging the power of technology and data analytics is also important to address customer needs. We have been working closely with our partners to understand customer behaviour, lifestyles, and expectations to refine and better meet customer needs.

What recommendations do you have for customers looking to purchase insurance solutions?

My recommendation for customers is the same advice I would give myself or my family. Firstly, make sure you have a meaningful discussion with an adviser to establish your unique needs. Secondly, make sure the proposition proposed addresses all of your concerns. Thirdly, you must maintain premium payments to ensure protection and savings growth as agreed. Remember, most life insurance protection and savings are medium to long-term commitments. Fourthly, review your needs and existing coverage at least every 12 months. And finally, it is about revising the protection and savings plan where needed to reflect any changes in your circumstances. If in doubt, seek a second opinion and remember that insurance is a chance to live every day better. — VNS