Mr Jung Seop Hyun, General Director of Korea Life Vietnam, spoke about the company’s business expansion and its development plans for 2012.
Can you tell us about Korea Life Vietnam’s business results in 2011?
Although Korea Life Vietnam is only a new player we have recorded impressive achievements in recent times. With our superior products and customer services, we have rapidly become an organisation with 150 staff and 6,000 agents, representing employment growth of 200 per cent.
In 2011 Korea Life Vietnam opened many new customer service centres, in Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Tuyen Quang, Cam Ranh, Quy Nhon, Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc and Thai Binh. We have expanded our sales network of 17 customer service centres and general agencies nationwide.
In term of business results, in 2011 we achieved total premiums (AFYP) of around VND90 billion ($4.3 million), an increase of 34 per cent over the same period of 2010. Korea Life Vietnam is now trusted by 17,000 policyholders in Vietnam. In continuing to enhance our customer service quality, we have entered into cooperative arrangements with prestigious partners such as Vietcombank, Dong A Bank, and Sacombank, to bring more benefits in premium payments to our customers.
In the context of the high inflation and economic difficulties in Vietnam, the local insurance market has to gradually change to match economic development. How has Korea Life Vietnam changed to attract more policyholders in Vietnam?
According to a recent assessment by Research & Markets, Vietnam’s insurance market is one of the world’s fastest growing and now creates many opportunities for foreign investors. The “Forecast for Vietnam’s Insurance Sector to 2014” report shows that the market has enjoyed double digit growth over the last few years and is expected to continue to do so in the years to come. The annual growth rate is forecast to be 22 per cent in the 2011-2014 period.
I believe that “there is always opportunity in every difficulty”. Especially in a period of economic and financial uncertainty, every individual and family needs to focus more on financial planning and unpredictable risks in the future. Korea Life Vietnam will focus on developing life insurance products that better satisfy our customers’ practical demands for investment-savings as well as protection-prevention.
Together with product development, we will actively expand our distribution network in 2012. At present, life insurance companies in the market have put an emphasis on new distribution channels under the forms of bancassurance, group life and general agencies, etc. This year Korea Life Vietnam will diversify its new distribution channels to bring the best products and services to both Vietnamese customers and Korean people living in Vietnam.
How do you view awareness among Vietnamese of the benefits and significance of life insurance over recent years?
Only 5 per cent of Vietnam’s population now has life insurance, which it is still quite modest, while in Korea it is 98 per cent. This shows that the growth potential here is huge. However, due to the specific characteristics of the life insurance product, which is an “invisible” product, many people are still confused about its benefits and significance.
Recently, life insurance companies have launched many active communications strategies aiming to change and improve awareness among Vietnamese people about the importance and vital role of life insurance. This is a very active sign in the life insurance sector. It will help customers gain a comprehensive view of the benefits that life insurance brings - protecting them against unpredictable risks.
In addition, to make it closer to Vietnamese people, companies like us will put a strong focus on enhancing service quality, from consultancy, customer care, underwriting and claims procedures to customers, to promote the human meaning and protective value of life insurance among Vietnamese people.
Most Korean businesses in Vietnam are actively participating in social activities. What is Korea Life Vietnam’s approach to these activities?
2011 marked an important milestone for Korea Life Vietnam in the local community. We have taken part in many charity activities for women, children, old people and the disadvantaged in Vietnam. One of the most significant activities is “Korea Life - Day of Love”, for young patients at the National Hospital of Paediatrics in Hanoi, and the Hospital of Paediatrics No 1 and the Hospital of Paediatrics No 2 in Ho Chi Minh City. “Korea Life - Day of Love” also supports teachers and pupils at schools for disabled children, such as the Nguyen Dinh Chieu Blind School in Ho Chi Minh City, the Hai Phong Deaf School, and the Khanh Hoa Rehabilitation-Education Centre for Disabled Children.
The spirit of kindness is a corporate cultural characteristic to be proud of at Korea Life Insurance. Thanks to this we have successfully organised a blood donation day for our staff, and other charity programmes carried by our employees include charity programmes at the Chanh Phu Hoa Social Protection Centre, and a Christmas charity programme at Hospital of Paediatrics No 2.
Through those programmes Korea Life Vietnam hopes to give a hand to bring a better future to the community and society in Vietnam.
Heading into 2012, what are the company’s specific product development plans to serve customer demands?
In 2011 Korea Life Vietnam was proud to be a company with a fairly balanced rate of product allocation, having many new products meeting the full demands of our Vietnamese customers in investment and protection. Some products launched in 2011 include An Khang Dac Loc Tron Doi (Universal Life), Critical Illness rider, and Hospitalisation rider. Korea Life Insurance has ceaselessly improved our products to meet the increasing demands of our customers.
In 2012 we expect to continue to conduct research and implement many more pre-eminent products and expand our insurance scale with more suitable insurance premiums. With a full understanding of customer demands, we’ve planned to focus more on the Critical Illness product, especially for children’s health, to provide true peace of mind.
We hope that our initial successes in the past will be a firm foundation for Korea Life Vietnam to keep growing in the long term and to nurture the dreams of Vietnamese people.