Meeting the demand for professional advice (Part 2)

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TO MEET the company’s objectives, Kwo aims to develop a full-time agency system by implementing structured processes that have proven successful in other countries, such as Japan. 

“We find that when it comes to advice, people prefer to deal with full-time agents, [rather than part-timers] who sell you the product but you don’t see two years later. We want to get the right people,” he says.

The company is in the midst of a two-year process to phase out many of its part-time agents. “In the past, the market recruited lots of people and then filtered them out. Now, we [want to] select the right people first, then train them by giving them the knowledge, tools and guidance step by step,” says Kwo.

“What we really want is for people to commit to the industry on a full-time basis [as they are in the business of] offering long-term solutions to customers. The Malaysian market has reached a stage where more consumers want full-time advice from those who provide the products and services they really need.”

Kwo acknowledges that in order to sustain its full-time agency system, there is a need to change the culture of the company. “We don’t want to make a profit at the expense of the customer. This retraining will require a large investment, but it will be beneficial to the company over the long term.”

The issue of misselling products is one that has dogged the insurance industry over the years. Kwo hopes to eliminate the problem by implementing this process.

“Our agents and insurance specialists are not allowed to push products first. No products are suggested or offered until these agents study and perform an in-depth analysis of their customer’s needs, financial standing and protection gap, taking into account both short- and long-term views.”

Over the past year, Gibraltar BSN has phased out a lot the legacy products of Uni.Asia. Moving forward, the company will focus on protection-based products that provide benefits in the event of death, disability or illness. 

“We are trying to look at our customers’ needs and to fit our products accordingly, rather than deciding on the products and giving them to the channels for distribution. Our products in the bancassurance channel are all new because we designed them from scratch,” says Kwo.

One area the company wants to focus on is insurance for all Malaysians, regardless of their wealth status. To that end, the insurer will target BSN’s customers as well as through post offices across the country. 

“BSN has more than 8.6 million customers nationwide, so we will look at marketing [our products] through our insurance specialists,” Kwo says. 

“Pos Assurance is available exclusively at all Pos Malaysia branches. Our Pos Assurance products are extremely affordable, providing low-income consumers with basic life insurance protection,” he adds.

“We want all Malaysians to have the opportunity to buy insurance. [In fact,] PFI began its business marketing to poor miners who could only afford three US cents to buy protection-based products.” 

Pos Assurance products require little underwriting. One such product is Pos Hayat, a term life product, to which the insurer recently added a dengue protection benefit that provides hospitalisation income and a payout in the event of death.

“We offer this product through post offices, but anyone can buy it. Dengue protection has become more important, and the majority of dengue cases happens in Selangor. This product is specifically for Malaysia,” says Kwo. 

PFI is principally known for its guaranteed income products in the US. This is something Gibraltar BSN is looking at over the long term (the next five years). At the moment, it is focusing on protection products in the conventional space. “The company has not made any plans yet to introduce takaful products to the Malaysian market,” says Kwo.

As part of its efforts to personalise its services, the company recently launched its Love Note initiative, where life insurance policyholders get to write and leave personal messages for their beneficiaries.

“We keep these Love Notes in a secure storage space until the claim on the policy is made. That is when we deliver the note to the beneficiary. Simple as it may sound, the impact these notes may have is beyond words. For many, having the chance to read a ‘final goodbye’ from their loved one is priceless,” says Kwo.

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This story first appeared in our new digital publication Wealth, a section within the new digitalEdge weekly. Click here to subscribe to our digital products for the next three months.