Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Manulife Airs Ambitious Thai Goals

The Nation, Piyarat Setthasiriphaiboon. 14 March 2006

Following the company's merger last year, Manulife Insurance (Thailand) plans to double the size of its premium take every year in its quest to become one of the country's top five life insurers by 2016.

To that end it will this year will recruit at least 500 full-time agents, bringing to 950 the number of sales reps it has working for it. It will also invest Bt200 million to refurbish its computer system and renovate its offices and branches.

The company's sales through its agents will remain the company's core distribution channel, according to Dominic D'Alessandro, president and chief executive of Canada-based Manulife Financial Corporation.

However, the firm may consider partnering with other companies to increase its distribution options.

"It will take time for us to become a market leader in life insurance, as it is a long-term business. It would take about five to 10 years for us to be ranked in the top five in the industry. However, following our success in other countries, we believe that it's a realistic target," D'Alessandro said.

The company officially change its name from Interlife John Hancock Assurance Plc to Manulife Thailand in June last year following the completion of a large-scale global merger between Manulife Financial Corp and US-based John Hancock Financial Services Inc.

The company last year generated a premium of Bt509 million, accounting for a market share of 0.3 per cent, and ranked 18 out of 24 life insurers that operate in the Thai life insurance industry. American International Assurance, the largest life insurer in Thailand, wrote Bt72.61 billion in premium - or market share of 43.3 per cent.

Peter Tan, Manulife Thailand's president and chief executive, said that in the future it was likely that the company could either merge or form an alliance with a local asset-management company. "The asset management business and insurance are quite similar and it will depend on customers about how much risk they can take as we have various types of products to offer. So, eventually these two businesses would have to merge," said Tan.