Manulife’s global results demonstrate the strength of Vietnam’s contributions

March 14, 2022 | 12:53
Canadian life insurer Manulife recently announced their full year global results, delivering a record profit for 2021. Sang Lee, Manulife Vietnam CEO, talked with VIR’s Ha Thuy about the company’s strong financial performance and growth prospects in the Vietnamese market.
Manulife’s global results demonstrate the strength of Vietnam’s contributions
Sang Lee, Manulife Vietnam CEO

What factors were instrumental to Manulife’s strong results?

Manulife enjoyed a strong performance in 2021, with the company delivering very solid operating results. As Manulife continues to navigate challenges presented by the pandemic across all its markets, this strong performance can be largely attributed to the organisation’s ability to adapt and continue to serve customers around the world.

Here in Vietnam this was further underscored by our ability to provide both customers and advisers with much needed convenience, speed, safety, and continuity.

Despite a very uncertain environment and market headwinds, Manulife delivered a record net income of $5.56 billion and core earnings of $5.09 billion in 2021. This was largely driven by the insurance businesses delivering double-digit growth.

In Asia, new-business value, a key measure of insurers’ profitability, rose 27 per cent to $1.33 billion, driven by higher sales volumes in several markets, including Vietnam. Overall, new-business value rose 31 per cent to $1.72 billion. The Global Wealth and Asset Management business also saw record net inflows of $21.84 billion in 2021 compared with net inflows of $6.97 billion in 2020.

I am extremely proud of the team here in Vietnam, who thanks to their tenacity, resilience, and commitment, has contributed to our solid performance and helped more people live every day better.

What role did Vietnam play in global results and overall performance of Manulife?

Manulife Vietnam played a significant role in the 2021’s results, driven largely by our strong distribution capabilities and digital foundation. While Vietnam’s digital capabilities helped us navigate the pandemic and maintain service standards nationwide, our market leading agency force and bancassurance distribution channel further powered growth.

Manulife’s global results demonstrate the strength of Vietnam’s contributions

Throughout 2021, Manulife Vietnam continued to diversify its product and service offering through strategic bancassurance and other key partnerships. In fact, Vietnam was singled out in the results announcement, with a key highlight being the growth potential of our latest exclusive 16-year bancassurance partnership with VietinBank.

Through our other exclusive tie ups with SCB and TCB, we were now able to protect even more people, providing a full suite of insurance, wealth and retirement solutions to 24 million bank customers across Vietnam.

Our team of professional financial advisers also remained committed to supporting our customers throughout the challenges of the past year, helping increase our customer base.

What influence has Manulife’s digital transformation had on its performance over the past year, both globally and in Vietnam?

In many ways, Manulife’s digital transformation has helped cushion the business globally from some of the impacts of the ongoing pandemic.

This strong digital foundation continues to be part of Manulife Vietnam’s competitive advantage.

As Manulife continues to navigate challenges presented by the pandemic across all its markets, this strong performance can be largely attributed to the organisation’s ability to adapt and continue to serve customers around the world.

During a year ruled by unfamiliarity and uncertainty, we’re proud of the stability and confidence we’ve instilled in our customers and advisers through digital solutions such as ePayments, eClaims, eContract, and ManuConnect.

We can see across all industries and markets that the pandemic has accelerated the use of digital tools among the population, and these new habits are taking root. This is particularly so in Vietnam where people here are using e-commerce in a multitude of ways in their daily lives, also influencing their expectations as life insurance customers.

In an age of increasingly digital lifestyles and habits, giving customers choices in how they engage with an insurer, be it virtual or physical, is becoming increasingly important. As technology continues to revolutionise the customer experience it’s essential that we find new ways to meet the evolving expectations of our customers.

What do you see as the biggest growth opportunities for the industry?

We continue to be very optimistic about the growth of the life insurance market in Vietnam. Insurance penetration here is among the lowest in the region, but the long-term potential of the market remains robust, with a burgeoning middle class, rapid GDP growth, and favourable demographics.

As we look to the future, Manulife Vietnam has a solid foundation for continued growth momentum in 2022. For me, one area of great potential is finding new ways to better address the growing demands from an increasingly health-conscious public.

The importance of life insurance has increased significantly, especially as the uncertainties of life have become glaringly obvious. Health and wellbeing of individuals and their loved ones have become priority, which has also made financial protection become more crucial. As a result, protection solutions including life and health insurance have become an essential requirement in every financial portfolio.

According to our latest Manulife Asia Care Survey, all respondents from Vietnam said they had taken action to help themselves better manage COVID-19, with 69 per cent saying this included doing more regular exercise. More than half (53 per cent) had also increased their exercise since the outbreak of the pandemic, with 55 per cent exercising every day and 78 per cent doing so at least four days a week.

Furthermore, here in Vietnam, a remarkable nine out of ten (91 per cent) said they intend to buy new insurance in the next 12 months, with life (55 per cent), health (45 per cent), and accident (41 per cent) protection sitting at the top of their list.

For Manulife Vietnam, making health and wellness a more convenient and simple experience will continue to be an important focus for us going forward. In Vietnam we are already seeing growing consumer demand for health-centric solutions and digital experiences.

By focusing on convenience and addressing these needs throughout the customer journey, Manulife Vietnam is looking to play a more significant role in supporting people’s health and lifestyle needs.

By Ha Thuy

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