PEOPLE development and innovation changes are the top priorities for AIA Thailand to grow and hold its position as market leader in the life insurance market, Tan Hak Leh, the new chief executive officer says.
Tan Hak Leh has 25 years ex-periences in insurance industry |and before joining AIA Thailand, he was the Group Chief Risk officer and before that he was CEO at AIA Singapore.
In an interview at the Grand Summit London, Hak Leh said that he wants AIA Thailand staff to focus on a commitment to their work every day to ensure the company stays No 1 in the Thai market.
The AIA Group has 18 markets, and Thailand is the second-largest market in terms of premiums and profit to the group. It currently has 5.5 million customers here.
Hak Leh said his challenge is to make Thais realise the importance of having insurance and convince them that life insurance can help manage incomes.
In his view, Thailand has substantial growth potential, and the company plans to recruit younger agents to help it the firm reach its goals.
“Our agent recruitment is successful in the financial adviser programme (FA). It is a big commitment for AIA Thailand to make for everyone we recruit under the FA programme. We give them three months of training so that by the time they have finished they have a good understanding of how to do proper financial planning for customers and a good understanding of how to make good recommendations for policyholders,” he said.
Under the FA programme, successful agents are qualified to sell investment products under the Investment Consultant (IC) licence.
AIA Thailand has around 50,000 agents, of which 7,000 FAs have an IC licence.
Hak Leh said his other mission is to get everyone in the company to embrace innovation because the market is changing.
“We understand the market is changing in Thailand and because of that we need to innovate. We recently rolled out some important initiatives. One of them is AIA Vitality. Vitality provides protection and long-term savings and also helps [customers] lead a healthy life,” he said.
He said that to persuade people to change their habits is not easy, so that is why the company needs to capitalise on its agents to share experiences with customers.
“Embracing initiatives such as AIA Vitality … is a new way to train our agency forces in the financial adviser (FA) programme, so that from one quarter to the next quarter AIA Thailand will become stronger. It is not just about the compensation but it is the mindset that we should focus on and be able to innovate,” he said.
To him, the people development and the innovation changes are crucial for long term business growth and long-term careers of agents. He acknowledges, however, that change will not happen overnight and he will have to spend a lot of time communicating with his Thai colleagues.
Innovation changes happen in many areas including new technology, he said. In order to provide better services to the customers, AIA developed iPoS as the tool for agents, he said. iPoS is smartphone application for agents that support all aspects of sales as well as administration.
iPoS was introduced a few years ago in 11 markets from the 18 markets where AIA operates.
In the first half of this year, 700,000 new policies in the 11 |markets were submitted via iPoS and those policies captured 50 per cent of the new business of AIA Group.
Ng Keng Hooi, regional chief executive of AIA Group, said the Thai market provides huge opportunities for AIA Group.
On the possibility of Thailand becoming the largest business of AIA Group, Keng Hooi said that nothing is impossible, although Hong Kong with the largest market in the AIA Group, is very big business.
“I cannot tell you right now about the figures but I can tell you that in the future Thailand is the big business for the group,” said Keng Hooi.
Apart from Thailand, the AIA Group has representative offices in Cambodia and Myanmar. The group is waiting for licence approval in both countries.