In most parts of the world, thanks to advances in technology, the insurance industry is in the midst of a great digital transformation.
“We cannot stand still. We have to progress with time and definitely we are going to make use of technology to help us in the future,” said AIA Brunei General Manager Kenneth Ling during a recent interview.
He noted that while the market here is not yet ready for a digital transformation, in Brunei “we are catching up”.
With the majority of Bruneians still having the trend of spending abroad, “the market is not ready,” said the general manager. He highlighted the importance of timing and what people want, and added that this all needs to be taken into account.
“AIA has actually grown. We have been here for 62 years now. We have actually grown to be one of the most trusted insurance companies in Brunei Darussalam,” he said. “In fact, we are the market leaders with about 70 per cent of the market share.”
AIA’s current brand promise is building a healthier, longer and better life and to engage with their customers to be healthy by conducting initiatives such as a health awareness day.
“We are no longer selling insurance, we are selling a lifestyle. So we engaged with our customers with health. Gone are the days like 30 or 40 years ago.”
Through the distributor channel, AIA agents connect with customers and engage with them towards a healthier, longer and better life. Aside from this, it is also expanding into bankers’ assurance.
“Insurance has actually progressed. We are not selling products anymore, we are selling a financial plan,” he said, explaining that this involves finding out “what is important to you, then we design a plan for you. So it is no longer a product push era”. He pointed out that clients know what is important to them and an agent’s role is to help in decision-making.
Asked on challenging factors with regards to competition, Kenneth said that what he finds to be a challenge is the fact that people are interested in spending. “Normal people pay bills, go for outings or holidays and whatever balance, they save. It is not a bad method but does it work? Or do you a want a method that when you receive your income, put aside for savings then you spend the rest?
It is the same mathematically but practicality wise it is very different. One is equation for poverty; one is equation for financial security.
“In 2017 alone, Bruneians crossing the border spent BND1.2 billion,” he said.
“Life insurance is a long term thing. The way people live now and 30 years ago is totally different, but the way they look at financial security is also totally different.”
Having a history of 100 years, AIA is the biggest life insurance provider in the world and with its presence in Brunei having reached 62 years, they have progressed and offer a lot of products with popular varieties.
“We have our popular product of whole life endowment. Then we ventured into foreign currency. We even ventured into investment-linked products, our best selling products, which can be in many forms.
“But if you really want to ask me what kind of product people are interested in now, it is premium limited paying products. If you are customers, depending on your life stages you need different things. So we have products catered to all these categories of people.
“There is not just one popular product. We actually sit down with the customer do a financial health check up and we find out what is important to you, then we cater the product you need,” he said.