Money Moves

New structure benefits insurance advisors

by Grace Chan

Aviva Life Insurance - Growth in Insurance Business
Steve Pang (second from left), chief advisor officer; Christine Lee, principal advisor
Duncan Chan (right), principal advisor; Dennis Chan (left), advisor
Aviva Advisors
Photo: Wallace Chan

Innovative model enhances team results

A strong, professional team is key to sustainable growth in the insurance business, and financial rewards are no longer the sole motivator attracting the brightest minds in the industry.

This is the belief of global insurance giant Aviva Life Insurance, which sees career-growth opportunities for valued advisors as a priority. "Clients these days are keenly aware of the importance of protection, savings and retirement planning," says Steve Pang, chief advisor officer, Aviva Life Insurance Company Limited.

Since savvy customers seek quality financial advice, only dedicated and committed advisors will rise to the top of their profession, Mr Pang notes. As part of its efforts to provide outstanding service, Aviva has therefore developed a new advisory distribution channel, Aviva Advisors.

While the company seeks to hire mainly seasoned professionals with at least five years' work experience, Aviva Advisors will also consider high-calibre university graduates. "Prospective recruits should be positive and energetic. They should also be ambitious and good team players," says Mr Pang.

Since the organisation focuses strongly on hiring and retaining "elite" advisors, its strategy is to go for quality rather than quantity in terms of human resources. "We expect to have about 100 new advisors in total joining us this year, with a similar number to be recruited next year."

Strong bonds

Consumers have a great deal of choice when it comes to insurance options, but Aviva Advisors aims to stand out by offering an efficient, simple two-tier corporate-agency model. "Each team consists of one principal advisor and a number of advisors. This enables advisors to earn a higher proportion of commission than the industry norm," Mr Pang explains. "The structure also gives high achievers a fast-track opportunity to become principal advisors and develop their own teams."

The simple hierarchy fosters closer ties between team members and allows direct communication with top managers, Mr Pang notes. "Our management is committed to providing all-round support and we welcome advisors' input on their business needs."

Attracted by the two-tier agency model, Dennis Chan joined the team three months ago and has already achieved outstanding results, an effort rewarded with the company's Top Producer Award in August. "The fact that we're a relatively close team ensures that we all get more opportunities to learn and voice our opinions directly to management," he says. "There are a number of incentive programmes, and my hard work really does pay dividends."

Before joining Aviva Advisors, principal advisor Christine Lee worked in the field for more than six years and is a member of the independent, professional trade association the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). "I find the two-tier agency structure innovative, simple and direct. It has helped me to improve my performance and to develop an effective team," she says, adding that the commissions and "override earnings" are attractive as well.

Duncan Chan, another veteran financial planner and principal advisor, says he has been impressed by Aviva Advisors' management team. The fact that he can have direct conversations with the chief advisor officer and other managers gives him the assurance that he is not alone in developing his career.

Systematic support

All newcomers undergo two weeks' induction, aimed at helping them develop the necessary industry knowledge, attitude and skills, and introducing Aviva's corporate culture, products and services, says Mr Pang.

Once they have completed the training, new recruits are coached by a team of certified financial planners (CFPCM), who share their practical experience and accompany them to client meetings. Ongoing training helps advisors keep their soft and hard skills up to date and ensures that they are abreast of market trends.

The one-on-one coaching enhanced his industry knowledge, says advisor Dennis Chan. He found the role-play exercises particularly valuable, since they effectively prepared him for the challenges of dealing with customers.

Ms Lee notes that she has gained efficient and essential recruitment skills from her managers. "Backed by our in-house coaches, I'm in a great position to acquire new training abilities myself, as well as to develop my own team." According to the model, principal advisors are assigned trainee advisors, which she believes is an effective way for her to expand her team.

Principal advisors also receive valuable internal support. "The administrative staff helps me handle paperwork, while the marketing team supports me in organising public sales events and recruitment advertising. I can therefore focus on business and team development," says Duncan Chan.

Since a happy and harmonious working environment is vital for advisors to feel engaged, the company prioritises its people's
well-being. It therefore provides office perks, including a coffee machine and snacks for breaks, and regularly organises outings such as boat excursions, Mr Pang concludes.

Platform for growth

  • Simple, two-tier agency model enhances professionalism and job satisfaction
  • One-on-one coaching ensures effective learning and development
  • Amiable corporate culture and pleasant working environment help to engage advisors

Taken from Career Times 21 October 2011, A5

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