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Asian insurers upbeat on economy, industry growth
Digitalization seen as key to success in pandemic environment
25 Feb 2021 | The Asset

Asia’s insurance advisers remain optimistic on the outlook for the economy and the industry as they embrace digitalization to reach out to customers and boost sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A survey of insurance agents and advisers conducted by Sun Life in the region finds that more than half strongly believe they will use both digital and non-digital tools to communicate with clients in the future, will prospect for clients in new ways, and will leverage social media more often to promote the business.

Most advisers (56%) are optimistic about the outlook for their local economy, and (70%) about the financial outlook for the life insurance industry and their abilities to grow insurance sales in 2021.

Health is a major consideration, with 79% expecting growth in sales for medical products and 77% expecting growth in critical illness insurance sales.

Despite their optimism, the pandemic is still a great challenge. The survey finds that Covid-19 is having a polarizing effect on the industry, with an equal proportion of advisers reporting positive and negative impacts on insurance sales.

In a normal environment, advisers indicate that 43% of the time they communicate with clients through in-person meetings. Digital sales activity is associated with stronger performance in the pandemic environment. For advisers who typically acquire clients through leads from social media, they indicate that Covid-19 has had a positive impact on their sales.

Capturing opportunities

Advisers recognize the need to adapt their sales practices to capture opportunities during the health crisis. According to the survey, 57% strongly believe that the demand for insurance and protection products will increase while 59% strongly believe that they need to use both digital and non-digital tools to communicate with their clients.

Over half of respondents also have strong expectations they will need to leverage social media more often to promote themselves (53%) and prospect for clients in new and different ways (52%).

The survey involved interviews with around 1,600 insurance agents and advisers working for a range of insurance carriers in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, between August and September 2020.

The findings came as Sun Life announced a partnership with Google to support its adviser force with digital, data and analytics capabilities.  The initiative, part of the insurer’s digital enterprise strategy, offers an integrated productivity solution to its advisers across Asia.

According to Sun Life, using Google’s Workspace products, including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Calendar, Chat and Meet, will enable its insurance advisers to communicate more easily with clients, automate tasks and work from anywhere so that they spend less time managing work and more time listening and caring for their clients.

“Having the right digital tools to clearly define, target, and communicate with key client segments will be essential in helping them to grow their business in a pandemic, and post-pandemic environment,” says Shiney Prasad, Sun Life president, Digital Enterprise Asia.

The insurer is also enhancing its Brighter Academy, a comprehensive recruitment and development programme to support agents throughout their career.  “It’s all part of a plan to make sure our advisers have the best training and experience, so they can deliver the best advice and experience to our clients,” Prasad says.

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