Money Moves

Bancassurance on the rise

by Christy Liu

Banking leader to expand market share in assets protection

Polly Yip, head of human resources
Hong Kong,HSBC Insurance (Asia)
Photo: Wallace Chan

Hong Kong's insurance market continues to gain momentum and currently emerging is a growing demand for innovative and personalised insurance services and products. According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong has the second most developed insurance market in the region after Japan in terms of insurance premiums per capita. In addition, bancassurance penetration (the distribution of insurance products solely provided by banks) is also rapidly expanding.

HSBC Insurance is Hong Kong's leading bancassurance company receiving an "excellence" accreditation in bancassurance at The Asian Banker Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards 2007 sponsored by The Asian Banker. It is a well-established one-stop insurance services provider, offering a full range of products and services from general and life insurance, pension plans, group medical cover to commercial and personal insurance. The company in Hong Kong currently has three main business divisions: employee benefits insurance, personal insurance and corporate insurance.

Polly Yip, head of human resources, Hong Kong, HSBC Insurance says, "Leveraging the strengths of our group, HSBC Insurance is primarily an underwriting company with a highly professional team of actuaries and underwriters who design and develop insurance products and services that offer customers security, confidence and convenience. Our personal and corporate insurance products are distributed through our bank's personal financial services team and commercial banking team, which in turn help to promote our offers in MPF and employee benefits products."

Professionals in the insurance and financial industries are constantly exploring the potential of new products to meet the ever-changing expectations and needs of customers. Rapid market growth has created a huge demand for high-calibre candidates. Recruiting suitable talents is therefore a major challenge, particularly in today's buoyant employee market.

Ms Yip emphasises, "Our colleagues not only create and develop excellent products, they must also take the role of an educator, helping our colleagues at the bank to enrich their product knowledge and to boost sales."

Growing with the market

As the penetration of bancassurance services set to increase, HSBC Insurance is looking for university graduates, who posses high growth potentials, to join the company's management trainee programmes. "Last year, we recruited six graduates to undergo our management trainee programme. This year, we have room for 10," Ms Yip says.

She also stresses that HSBC Insurance believes outstanding service begins with attracting quality people into the company and investing in them. Six essential attributes form the basis of our selection criteria. These include good communication skills, creativity, integrity, trustworthiness and commitment to HSBC's "join-up" spirit.

New recruits benefit from orientation and training programmes-an initiative to help new joiners better appreciate the company's culture and facilitate swift integration. In addition to classroom training, a well-established e-learning platform has been built to help staff enhance their professional acumen, technical knowledge and people skills.

Ms Yip says, "The group's expert training team work closely with our business managers to regularly review staff's training needs and organise various relevant training programmes to equip them with skills and knowledge necessary for further business expansion. Such training also serves to enhance their overall professional knowledge. Besides on-the-job and in-house training, we also sponsor staff to attend different external seminars and take professional examinations so as to gain extensive exposure to the latest developments in the insurance and financial services industries". She further explains, "Our trainers evaluate the performance of staff after the entire training programme. This helps us understand the learning curve of our staff and plan for other training initiatives."

Multidimensional development

In addition to offering an excellent start for new recruits, the company also provides existing staff with ample lateral opportunities across departments, or to transfer from one country to another.

Ms Yip emphasises that such development policies are transparent and staff are encouraged to pay attention to internal job postings on the company's intranet. Updates on such opportunities are delivered to staff via email on a regular basis.

Employees are guided on a clear route for career development from day one. "For example, a newly joined policy service administrator can work the way up to senior administrator and progressively be promoted to supervisory and managerial levels," she explains. "A business development officer or account service officer at our Employee Benefits Division can move up to business development executive or account service executive. Managerial status is then conferred and there exists further options beyond the management level."

"We are fully committed to career development and growth opportunities for our staff as we believe that talent is our most important asset. As a result, colleagues have ample opportunities for their career development within the company. Staff of all levels can visualise their potential career path from the beginning, right through to the senior executive level," Ms Yip concludes.

Total trust

  • Market penetration for bancassurance increasing
  • Local demand for insurance products on the rise
  • Insurance managers in high demand
  • Internal job postings on intranet accessible to all staff

Taken from Career Times 29 February 2008, p. A2
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