Bancassurance is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide as comprehensive financial support for ageing societies is becoming ever more widespread.
BOC Group Life Assurance Co Ltd is acutely aware of this growing need for protective financial cushioning in times of difficulty and has recorded robust growth in premium income year on year.
"As a member of the Bank of China group, we enjoy a prominent position with regards to the provision of exceptional services to our clientele. For example, our vast branch network boasts more than 280 distribution points in Hong Kong alone," says Candy Yuen, chief executive officer, BOC Group Life Assurance.
The combination of sophisticated sales channels and established client communities —k ey success factors in the insurance domain —h as paved the way for outstanding performance. Indeed, BOC Group Life Assurance registered more than 80 per cent business increase in the first quarter of 2008.
As a result of this rapid development, the company has expanded its workforce to cope with the rise in operational workload, exploration of new products and the addition of new service units.
In particular, an insurance specialist team is in place to provide insurance services to the customers at branch level. The specialist team currently comprises 19 members. To meet anticipated growth, the company is now looking to increasing this number to 80 by the end of this year. In a bid to offer customers added convenience, plans for a mobile sales team are also in the pipeline. It is expected that this team of 65 highly mobilised personnel will serve customers at a place and time most convenient for them.
"Our goal is to increase the number of back office staff to a total of 200 by the end of the year," Ms Yuen explains, while expressing her appreciation to the current team of highly committed associates.
To this end, hiring activities are already firmly established in all sectors of BOC Group Life Assurance, including marketing and product development. The HR initiatives are aligned with the company's focus on advancing delivery of comprehensive and innovative insurance products based on customer requirements.
Mid-office recruitment for risk management, compliance and audit is also on the rise to ensure consistent quality levels are maintained as the company's sales escalate.
"In view of the company's penetration rate, there is ample room for further development. With the creation of various insurance-linked products catering to different sectors of our client base, we are confident about future achievements," Ms Yuen remarks.
Meanwhile, to capitalise on the potential of more than one million BOC credit card accounts, the company has a telemarketing team of 60 staff promoting simplified insurance-related products which do not require face-to-face consultations.
Telemarketers involved in the promotion need to have sophisticated soft skills and the ability to think fast. These skills help them capture business opportunities during typically brief conversations held with Hong Kong residents who have little time for chitchat.
Regarding quality control, according to Ms Yuen, only 30 people, despite a target of 60, were selected from almost 200 candidates when the team was first built last year.
"A major tenet of our hiring strategy is never to prioritise meeting staff numbers. Instead, we ensure the acquisition process is incredibly thorough to get the right people in terms of attitude and competence. Quality counts when it comes to sales goals and to this end we strive to provide all customers with the products best suited to them, rather than focus on a hard sell approach," Ms Yuen stresses.
In return, associates working at BOC Group life Assurance receive professional perks stretching beyond a competitive salary. "It is clear that within the greater BOC family, our employees' future is not limited to life insurance only. The broad spectrum of financial businesses in our group offers various opportunities for team members via different platforms, such as job rotation, cross-functional secondment and cross-border relocation," Ms Yuen notes.
Strategically placed to leverage the enormous opportunities resulting from regional growth, BOC serves as a gateway to and from the huge China market. Regarding the future, both BOC and its existing staff rest on the solid foundation of a banking group which is firmly established locally and regionally.
Being one of the biggest employers in Hong Kong, the BOC group actively encourages dynamic interaction among its people across all levels to promote synergy and life-long learning. For people who appreciate a "work hard, play hard" style, BOC Group Life Assurance provides a perfect opportunity because a work-life balance is one of the key elements of Ms Yuen's leadership philosophy. To achieve this, staff recreational activities are organised regularly, including parties, special interest classes, sporting events and competitions.
"On the one hand, our job nature is performance driven. On the other, we treat our people as our most important assets. We want our colleagues to enjoy life here —e specially after work. They are entitled to some fun, as well as quality time with their family," Ms Yuen concludes.