Staying healthy, securing the family’s livelihood and the education of the children has always been a concern for families’ breadwinners.
An insurer however protects health, livelihood, and financial security of a whole community of families and individuals.
Robert J. Elliott, CEO and General Manager of Manulife (Cambodia) Plc, said “Manulife is one of the oldest but most modern insurance companies in the world that concentrates on insuring lives and protecting their future. [Manulife] successfully operates in the life insurance field since we were established in Toronto [Canada] in 1887.”
After the company expanded from Canada into the USA, it established itself in Asia beginning with Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1897. Japan was on the agenda in 1901 followed by the Philippines in 1907. After World War II Manulife set up branches in Thailand in 1951 and in Malaysia in 1963, followed by Singapore (1980), Indonesia (1985), Taiwan (1992) and Vietnam (1999).
Most recently Manulife expanded into the Kingdom of Cambodia in June 2012 – a country in which the concept and benefits of life insurances were unknown to the majority of the population, according to Elliott.
“One of our key aims is to educate the people, but at the same time we want to earn their trust,” the CEO said and continued to explain that “the important role life insurance plays in the economy of the country and for people individually, is a way to secure their financial future. When the main breadwinner in the family dies who will pay for the children’s education if not the insurance premium? This is a new concept in Cambodia, but it’s an old one in the other parts of the world.”
To bring the idea of life insurance closer to the people and hear their questions and concerns, Manulife has been working closely with the Cambodian Ministry of Economics and Finance and organized countless educational seminars right after entering the Cambodian market in 2012.
“We want to help people to protect their families and to show them ways of saving for their retirement and their children’s education,” Elliott said.
Looking back onto more than a century of success in Asia, Manulife has very strong experience crossing cultural barriers in this region. According to the CEO the most crucial part of gaining foot in Cambodia was to train staff.
“The first two and a half years of our journey here has been very important. Manulife invested a lot of resources into high value training courses and opened up the Manulife Academy of Excellence. The academy is focused on training our staffs in all aspects of life insurance products,” Elliott explained the initial steps of the insurance company in the Kingdom.
Among other things our staff needs to fully understand how life insurance works, how they can identify a customer’s needs, and how to build the name of the company.
The efforts have bore fruit, according to Elliott: “We’re very proud of the brand awareness for Manulife. Almost 90 per cent of all people living in Phnom Penh know about Manulife.” He added that the awareness for the brand was the first step towards gaining support and trust among the population.
Not only awareness but also business is gathering way.
“In the last two and a half years we have many thousands Cambodian customers who have bought life insurance products from Manulife, with a total value of over $60 million,” Elliott proudly said.
While buyers from Phnom Penh currently dominate Manulife’s business the insurer is now eyeing provincial areas in Cambodia such as Battambang, Kampong Cham and Sihanoukville. In Siem Reap the first Manulife branch already opened in December 2014.
Manulife CEO Elliott firmly believes successful business numbers will soon be reported from all areas of Cambodia.
“In all honesty, insurances are intangible products, and it’s very promising that the company will pay back to customers and ensuring that we protect the people and their future income,” Elliott said.
“As our global records from 2013 show, Manulife paid out over $19.2 billion to our customers around the world.”
To illustrate how life insurance payouts create benefit he added: “We provide social benefits with the life insurances. Imagine the personal tragedy of something happening to your parents. Nobody can ever replace them or change the emotional impact.
But you can ensure the ones that are left behind don’t suffer from a financial crisis.”
Contemplating about the future of the life insurance industry Elliott said that Manulife will continue to invest and reach out to more Cambodians to help them protect their families and dreams .
“The people of Cambodian will be able to enjoy the economic of economic growth which other countries already enjoy with the help of the life insurance industry,” he concluded.