Money Moves

Sophisticated consumers raise the ante

by Mariejean Li

Alan Armitage, CEO, Asia Region, Standard Life (Asia) Limited
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Hong Kong's insurance industry and the investment and unit-linked business markets are rapidly growing. Industry leaders are shifting their focus and becoming more selective with their hiring process in order to serve a growing class of sophisticated clientele that are looking to diversified portfolios to increase revenues and profits.

Maintaining a competitive edge in Hong Kong's booming market is not always easy as a rising number of local consumers are gaining knowledge through a variety of channels such as the Internet. As a result, the requirement for expertise is increasing and acquiring the right talent with the commitment to provide excellent customer service along with the ability to bring in new ideas have become essential.

"Hong Kong is one of the top high-service markets in the world but we can do so much better by providing even better financial services to the public and it doesn't have to be complicated," says Alan Armitage, CEO, Asia Region, Standard Life (Asia) Limited, a subsidiary of Standard Life plc.

The Standard Life group was first established in Edinburgh in 1825. Since then, the company has become a leading provider of financial products and services with approximately 10,000 employees spread across the UK, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, India, and recently, mainland China and Hong Kong.

Mr Armitage notes that providing superb customer service is Standard Life's key business strategy. To do so, the company strives to attract and acquire high-calibre insurance and fund professionals by offering them competitive packages with generous incentives and bonuses. The right candidates should have the potential to be able to connect with and consult a growing class of sophisticated clients and provide them with the right type of funds in order to provide risk management and meet their financial needs.

Standard Life has also implemented a total customer satisfaction training programme, which teaches employees appropriate communication skills and telephone etiquette. "These skills are especially essential when a client calls to claim a death benefit. It is of great importance to be sensitive and immediately assist in a courteous manner no matter which department gets the call," says Mr Armitage.

One of the problems within the industry is the ever-growing ageing population that has not done proper retirement planning. Standard Life is one of the companies in the industry who understands this and has developed retirement plans to address the issue.

Presently, the company is launching a series of campaigns to further engage the Hong Kong market by re-introducing their products and services and by promoting high quality customer service to help clients achieve a richer life.

Meanwhile, by focusing more on unit-linked business, Standard Life will be able to stay ahead of the game by balancing inevitable changes that will occur in the market in the next few years.

Taken from Career Times 08 June 2007, p. A2
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