Seeing growth in a tried-and-tested Hong Kong market
Fabien Jeudy sees a big opportunity to spearhead Sun Life’s local business to leverage the insurer’s existing talent, knowledge and reach on the ground to deliver on the growing need for real protection among the population.
Regardless of the number of visitors from mainland China snapping up insurance policies, the Hong Kong market continues to show robust growth year-on-year and remains attractive to the most established players.
After 125 years as one of the leading players in the local insurance and MPF landscape, Sun Life Financial can certainly be confident of its market standing and perspective.
“One thing which is becoming evident, is that the HNW market is increasingly coming onshore in Hong Kong, which presents another opportunity rather than just catering to mainland Chinese visitors,” says Fabien Jeudy, chief executive officer of Sun Life Hong Kong.
This is happening as international insurance companies are seeing the potential to offer solutions such as universal life policies on the ground, rather than only out of jurisdictions like Bermuda.
“We have brokers who, if given more access to the product, would give us a sizeable business,” he adds.
Looking at where the biggest long-term potential lies, however, connectivity with the mainland cannot be ignored.
In line with this, Jeudy believes that products which offer real protection – including term insurance, critical illness and other health-related solutions – will be in demand more and more going forward.
Top of his wish-list, therefore, is for the PRC regulators to give the go-ahead, at some point, for the country’s citizens to come to Hong Kong to buy these products.
Well-prepared for Hong Kong’s journey
Yet Sun Life knows the importance of being able to adapt. As an organisation, it wants to be best-placed to work with a wide variety of distributors going forward to deliver on its vision to meet real protection needs.
“We will focus more on protection, to answer a client’s real, long-term needs,” adds Jeudy.
This is helped also by the fact that the health-related products in Hong Kong are on par with those available anywhere else in the world, he explains.
From a channel viewpoint, Jeudy’s focus is on growing the agency force – and potentially doubling it – over the next few years.
This is counter to what most of his peers are looking to do; as they believe that the traditional agency model looks to have run its course as the channel of choice in Hong Kong.
This isn’t to say that financial planning won’t become a more important part of the Sun Life proposition. “Advisers in Asia are becoming more like financial planners, but it will take time,” adds Jeudy.
Where he sees the potential for some innovation, is from digital driving greater convenience and accessibility.
“Underwriting, for example, could be significantly changed based on the amount of data available and which is usable,” says Jeudy. “The products themselves are less likely to change.”
More broadly, digital for Sun Life is client focused as it is about equipping its advisers to become more effective.
“We want to enable our advisers to have better workflows, efficiencies and communications,” adds Jeudy.
Priorities to stay ahead
Looking at the next 12 months, maintaining the firm’s leadership in the MPF space is key for Jeudy, especially after Sun Life bought the MPF businesses of Schroders and FWD in 2016, both of which have shown the largest amount of new inflows of business.
“Scale makes this a viable opportunity for us in Hong Kong,” explains Jeudy. “This is essential to provide the services at an affordable price, while still making a profit.”
At the same time, growing the firm’s agency force, and continuing to roll out the firm’s ‘Most Respected Advisor’ programme are other key objectives.
The expansion plans are an extension of the firm’s philosophy to look to grow through distribution excellence in markets which have high growth potential.
Indeed, Asia is the growth engine for Sun Life as a global business, highlighted by figures over the past three to four years.
This is certainly the case in Hong Kong, too, explains Jeudy, given the China connectivity.
More from Fabien Jeudy, Sun Life Financial