The majority of insurance advisers in Asia are optimistic about the economy, the outlook for the life insurance industry and sales growth, despite being in the midst of a pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Sun Life. It also finds that COVID-19 is having a polarizing effect in the industry as digital becomes a critical tool for sales performance.
The findings come as Sun Life announces a partnership with Google to offer its advisers across Asia Google Workspace, the industry’s only cloud-native communication and collaboration solution, to meet evolving needs of its adviser force. The initiative is one of a range of investments Sun Life is making to power its adviser force with digital, data, and analytics as part of a Digital Enterprise strategy.
“The pandemic is a great challenge for many industries, including insurance. Advisers are the lifeblood of the insurance industry and in this survey, we wanted to better understand their situation and mindset,” said Léo Grépin, President, Sun Life Asia. “The results are encouraging as we see opportunities for growth. For insurers, providing additional support to help advisers adapt their practices to be more digital-first is definitely a priority. This is at the heart of our Digital Enterprise strategy: positioning our advisers for long-term success with the best digital tools, data, and insights to deliver a market-leading Client experience, manage and grow their business, and pursue continuing training to grow their career.”
Sun Life interviewed around 1,600 insurance agents and advisers working for a range of insurance carriers in Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, between August and September 2020.
The survey found:
- 56% of insurance agents and advisers are optimistic about the outlook for their local economy.
- While 70% of insurance agents and advisers are optimistic about the financial outlook for the life insurance industry and their abilities to grow insurance sales in 2021.
- There is an expectation that health concerns are now top of mind, with 79% of advisers expecting growth in sales for medical products and 77% expecting growth in critical illness insurance sales.
- The pandemic is driving advisers to embrace digitalisation, as more than half strongly believe they will use both digital and non-digital tools to communicate with clients in the future, will prospect for clients in new ways, and will leverage social media more often to promote themselves.
Pandemic drives advisers to embrace digitalisation
Despite advisers’ relative optimism, the pandemic is still a great challenge. The survey finds COVID-19 is having a polarising effect on the industry, with an equal proportion of advisers reporting positive and negative impacts on insurance sales.
In a normal environment, advisers indicate that 43% of the time they communicate with clients through in-person meetings. The survey shows that digital sales activity is associated with stronger performance in the pandemic environment. For advisers who typically acquire clients through leads from social media, they tend to indicate that COVID-19 has had a positive impact on their sales.
Advisers recognise the need to adapt their sales practices to capture opportunities in the pandemic. 57% strongly believe that the demand for insurance and protection products will increase, and 59% strongly believe that they need to use both digital and non-digital tools to communicate with their clients. Over half of advisers also have strong expectations they will need to leverage social media more often to promote themselves (53%) and prospect for clients in new and different ways (52%).
Support from insurers is vital to adviser’s success
Across all markets, the majority of agents and advisers expect to be operating in a pandemic-style environment for at least another year. This means that they will need additional support from insurers to help augment traditional sales and communications tactics.
In view of this, Sun Life is partnering with Google to offer an integrated productivity solution to its advisers across Asia. Using Workspace products including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Calendar, Chat and Meet, Sun Life advisers will be able to communicate more easily with clients, automate tasks and work from anywhere so that they spend less time managing work and more time listening and caring for their clients.
“We are excited to partner with Google to bring our support to advisers to the next level,” said Shiney Prasad, Sun Life President, Digital Enterprise Asia. “Having the right digital tools to clearly define, target, and communicate with key client segments will be essential in helping them to grow their business in a pandemic, and post-pandemic environment. Google Workspace is the first step and we will continue to build on this as we develop our Digital and Advisor (DnA) platform this year.”
“Alongside these tools, we are enhancing our Brighter Academy, a comprehensive recruitment and development program to support our advisers throughout their career from rookie stage through to professional MDRTs and then leading agency managers. It’s all part of a plan to make sure our advisers have the best training and experience, so they can deliver the best advice and experience to our clients,” said Shiney.
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