Pru Life expanding in Philippines

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UK-based insurer Pru Life is bullish about its growth prospects in the Philippines, saying it intends to expand its operations in the country by engaging in bancassurance and hiring more agents.

The Philippine office of Pru Life, which posted a robust 68-percent increase in premium collection in the first half of the year, expects to continue posting strong growth in the second half and at least over the short term.

In a recent briefing held in Hong Kong, Barry Stowe, the head of Pru Life’s operations in Asia, said that there was still a huge room for growth in the Philippines given the relatively low penetration rate of insurance products in the country compared with those in neighboring countries in the region.

To maximize the growth potential, Stowe said Pru Life was planning to expand its workforce and tap a bank to serve as its partner in selling of its products.

As of end-August this year, Pru Life employs 2,728 insurance agents. Unlike other big industry players in the Philippines, Pru Life has yet to partner with a bank for bancassurance purposes.

“We are going to get bigger. We are expanding our agency force, and we will talk with a bank interested in partnership,” Stowe said in a briefing held in Hong Kong, where its regional office is located.

Earlier, Pru Life said it hit P5.2 billion in premium collection in the first semester, up from P3.1 billion a year ago.

It also posted a 95-percent jump in its collection of first-year premiums (representing newly sold policies) to P4.1 billion from P2.1 billion in the same period last year. The first-semester premium collection, it said, was the highest in the industry.

Stowe said the growth of its Philippine operations in the first half could be attributed to the company’s intensified marketing efforts and the favorable economic environment in the Philippines.

“Although the domestic economy posted a slower-than-expected growth of 3.8 percent in the first semester, there was still growth and the environment remains favorable,” Stowe said.

Stowe said Pru Life expected to sustain a robust growth rate, especially if it would be able to tie up with a bank. “We achieved so much in the first half even without it (bancassurance), imagine what more we can accomplish if we partner with a bank.”

Pru Life’s operations in the Philippines are concentrated on life insurance. Stowe said, however, that the company was planning to offer other financial services, such as mutual fund and asset management.

“That is something that we think about all the time. If there is a good deal to benefit the shareholders, then we can do it,” Stowe said.

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