BIDV Metlife takes Vietnam by storm

14:05 | 16/05/2016
BIDV MetLife, a joint-venture between Bank of Investment and Development of Vietnam and New York City-headquartered life insurer MetLife, has significantly expanded its distribution network in Vietnam this year and will have its products available in every province of the country by year-end.
 

CEO Dustin Ball talked to VIR about how BIDV MetLife was helping Vietnamese families plan for and protect their futures, and the company's performance since starting up just over one year ago.

What are BIDV MetLife’s goals with this expansion? Did you meet any challenges in the process?

Expanding our geographic coverage was BIDV MetLife’s focus in the first quarter. We aimed to make our products available in over 98 BIDV branches across the country, covering all large cities in the northern, southern, and central regions.  By May 2016, our products were available in every one of BIDV’s 180 branches covering all 63 provinces of Vietnam.  This is a core part of our strategy to become the leading bancassurance company in Vietnam. Covering the entire country so quickly after setting foot in the country was a huge undertaking. We had to mobilise significant resources across the country to support the training and licensing of new sales representatives and establish operations to support this expansion.

 

Why did BIDV MetLife decide to place your educational product as the initial focus? How important is educational insurance for families?

Based on our research and understanding, children’s education is one of the primary concerns for families in Vietnam. The number of students attending university is increasing, according to statistics from UNESCO.  We expect this trend to continue.

On the other hand, the cost of education continues to increase for primary and secondary schools as well as universities, which poses a challenge to families to provide for their children’s education.

Additionally, we understand that it takes more than just savings to prepare students for a successful academic career. We know that parents want their children to engage in extracurricular activities to develop their skills, starting from a very young age.  Our education savings product Gia An Toan My will help parents save up for their children’s education, guarantees that the funds will be there when needed, and provides protection and access to exclusive benefits at institutions specialising in education and development.

We will take a similar approach to launching products in the future, where we will research and strive to understand our clients’ needs to bring unique products and services that meet those needs.

Does BIDV MetLife plan to launch new products this year?

BIDV MetLife is working on bringing new products to the market that are designed to meet customers’ unique needs. This year will see the introduction of not only a retirement savings product, but new protection products as well. All of these products have been researched and designed to meet specific customer needs and provide exceptional value.

While Vietnam is still a relatively young country, we know that proper retirement planning has to start early.  And with Vietnam’s exceptional economic growth and rapidly rising living standards, life expectancy will continue to increase. This means that people will need to have enough money to fund longer retirements than in the past. And having a properly funded retirement will allow people to truly relax and enjoy life without worries and concerns.

How do you think the Vietnamese insurance market measures up to the Asia-Pacific region?

The Vietnamese insurance sector is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia due to the continuously improving economy and strong support from the Vietnamese government and the Ministry of Finance.  However, the penetration of life insurance packages is still below other countries’, standing at 1 per cent versus the GDP, compared to 3 per cent in Malaysia, 2 per cent in Indonesia, and 4 per cent in Thailand.  This means that there is still a lot of potential for the market to grow and we expect the growth that we have seen over the last few years to continue.

As Vietnam matures, we also expect that a much larger share of sales will come from the banking channel, due to the strong relationship customers have with their banks and the relative ease of purchasing all of their financial products at one institution. By partnering with BIDV, BIDV MetLife will be able to benefit from that trend, as we have access to BIDV’s nearly 8 million customers and its nationwide network of bank branches and locations.

What is BIDV MetLife’s strategy and business plan a year after launching in Vietnam?

Our strategy remains the same as when we started: to become the leading bancassurance company and break into the Top-5 companies overall. We will do that by developing products and services that focus on meeting customers’ needs and using advanced digital technologies to support our sales and make our services seamless, as well as through leveraging the distribution power of BIDV to reach customers across the country.

We are very pleased with our results in 2015, our first full year of operations. In our very first year, our market share overtook a number of companies that have been present for years. Our strong performance, ranking 13th out of 18 companies in the market, proves that our business model and strategy are right for this market.

Over the next few years we will launch new products and new sales channels. This, combined with our focus on delivering unique products that provide significant value to our customers, will enable us to become a leader in life insurance in Vietnam.

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