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VIR talks with its CEO Jack Howell about the driving forces behind the company’s success amid Vietnam's progressive economic integration into the ASEAN.
What is Prudential Vietnam Assurance’s identity which distinguishes the company from competition?
We are proud to be the leading life insurer in Vietnam with an extensive distribution network, a large customer base and robust financial strength. But, I believe what really sets us apart is the quality of our workforce. Our ability to understand the local market, listen to our customers and deliver what is expected is built upon a competent and dedicated workforce.
Prudential probably has the largest number of staff and agents with more than 10 years of service with the company and in the industry. They are passionate about their profession and extremely proud to be a Prudential staff or agent and are hence the best ambassadors for the Prudential brand. This is the most important investment we have made and will continue to do so in the future.
Last year, we also saw great success with our new product Phu An Loc, an innovative product which not only provides comprehensive protection against critical illnesses but also meets savings and retirement needs for customers. I very much look forward to similar successes as we aim to launch more innovative products this year.
Financial institutions are cashing in on mobile technologies to develop new distribution channels, apart from traditional agents. How has Prudential Vietnam Assurance incorporated this trend into its business plans and strategy?
Mobile technology has become an important enabler for businesses, particularly those in the finance industry. Recognising this early on, Prudential has been leveraging opportunities in this area, particularly in consumer and distribution platforms, as well as digital and social media. Our goal is to optimise mobile technology to give our customers an enhanced experience throughout the customer management cycle, in areas like prospecting and selling, as well as after sales service.
We have successfully launched digital sales tools, such as the “What’s Your Number?”
campaign, on mobile devices (Android, Iphone, IPad). Most of our customers can now access their policy accounts and make requests online from their mobile devices. We are also providing our distributors from our multi-distribution channels with online and mobile access to our system to facilitate efficient sales and customer service activities. This is a key part of our strategy in Asia, including Vietnam.
ASEAN economies are integrating at impressive rates and ASEAN aims to build an economic community by 2015. How has Prudential’s life insurance business benefitted from the progressive economic integration within ASEAN?
As a concerted regional effort to break down barriers around investment and services liberalisation, the objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community are positive. Actions that encourage an open flow of long-term investment capital and create a stable and level-playing field across the region can only be beneficial to business. The opportunities for businesses and in particular life insurance companies are very clear.
For Prudential, the ASEAN region is a key market representing approximately 600 million consumers and some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The AEC aims to increase regional economic prosperity and stability, and with the rise of the middle class comes a natural increase in the demand for life protection and long-term savings products. This has brought, and will continue to bring benefit to Prudential Vietnam and our business in the region.
Do you have any recommendations for the ASEAN governments or Vietnamese government for the integration of financial markets in the region and a better business environment?
It is important to continue efforts to broaden and deepen the debt and equity markets across the region. Bond markets remain fragmented and more can be done in terms of progressing infrastructure and harmonising standards and frameworks. Insurance companies play a significant role as major institutional investors, mobilising domestic savings into more dynamic productive long term capital and in turn driving economic growth. So it is essential to create the right environment to support long-term investing.
In addition, it is important to continue to build on efforts to enhance financial literacy amongst the ASEAN population. An educated consumer base makes for a stronger foundation on which to expand the financial sector.