For the last decade Bao Viet Life has been providing Vietnamese with the innovative life insurance coverage they need. In our exclusive interview Mr. Pham Ngoc Son, CEO of Bao Viet Life Corporation, provides an inside look at the life insurance industry in Vietnam, their life insurance products, business strategy, and how people can benefit from the financial protection they offer.
Bao Viet Life has been in operation for 25 years now. How has the company changed over the years?
Bao Viet Life was established in 1996, when it was the first life insurer in Vietnam with a turnover of only VND 1 billion and 1,200 contracts in the first year of establishment. Over 25 years, Bao Viet Life has continuously grown, demonstrating the bravery of a market-leading enterprise with its network of 76 member companies, nearly 400 regional offices covering 63 provinces, nearly 2,400 officers and approximately 200,000 financial advisors. For many years, exceeding the remaining 17 life insurers, Bao Viet Life has led the life insurance industry in Vietnam in terms of total revenue and new business revenue. Particularly in 2020, with 21.5% market share of total revenue, Bao Viet Life hit VND 28 trillion in total revenue and more than VND 6,300 billion in new operation revenue, had 16 million customers and paid corporate income tax of more than VND 150 billion.
How is the Vietnamese market different from other insurance markets?
Compared to other countries in the region such as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, the proportion of people participating in life insurance in Vietnam is quite modest – only about 10% of the population, equivalent to 10 million people. The main reasons why people do not pay much attention to life insurance are:
- People’s awareness of the role of life insurance in life is not sufficient;
- People compare life insurance with bank deposits for more interest rate losses.
However, in the past 5 years, with the participation of the government, ministries, agencies and insurance associations, many communication programmes have been launched to widely communicate to the people about the role of life insurance in life. Besides, the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges and opportunities to the life insurance industry in Vietnam. According to a Nielson survey in 2020, Vietnamese people paid more attention to health and health insurance packages. That is also the main reason for the nearly 20% growth results of new operating revenue of the life insurance industry in 2020 compared to 2019. The insurance industry was one of the few industries with positive growth, while other industries suffered a heavy decline due to the impact of COVID-19.
By the end of 2020, with 11% of the population participating in life insurance, Vietnam was a potential market that major insurance corporations around the world wanted to join. Therefore, Bao Viet Life – the only life insurer in Vietnam – is facing fierce competition from 17 foreign life insurers in the Vietnamese market.
What message do you have for those considering life insurance?
In order to increase people’s awareness of the role of life insurance in life, according to the direction of the government and the Ministry of Finance, Bao Viet Life Corporation has actively collaborated with the Insurance Association of Vietnam to promote common communication programmes for the life insurance industry in Vietnam. Besides, Bao Viet Life also actively implements communication programmes and events to help people understand the vital role of life insurance protection. Protection is the core benefit of life insurance, followed by savings and investment benefits. Life always contains unpredictable risks such as accidents, fatal diseases, natural disasters, epidemics; life insurance is a lifeline to help customers and their families overcome crises and difficulties when the main source of income from the mainstay is no longer available.
Building strong relations with customers has always been a priority for Bao Viet Life. How do you maintain and grow the relationship with customers?
Life insurance products are intangible and have a long premium, so the customers’ trust in the insurance company is of the utmost importance. With that understanding, Bao Viet Life always directs all its activities to bring the most benefits and highest satisfaction to customers.
With the advantage of being a Vietnamese enterprise, led and operated by Vietnamese people, Bao Viet Life is knowledgeable about the culture and habits of the population. Bao Viet Life’s distribution channel network and member companies cover 63 cities and provinces, creating conditions for Bao Viet Life’s staff and consultants to be close to customers. Since then, many wishes and requirements of customers are answered and resolved in the fastest way by Bao Viet Life.
Not only that, but Bao Viet Life also never stops learning and monitoring the development of the life insurance industry in the region and around the world to launch new and preeminent products, bringing optimal benefits to customers. At the same time, support activities, customer care and training for staff and consultants are always updated and renewed, and we always direct customers to the central location.
How have the investments made in technology improved customer engagement and processing times?
Thanks to the ecosystem development, the frontend systems – for customers and consultants during and after the sale – and backend systems have been self-contained and seamlessly followed STP processes. For customers buying online, the whole process – from buying and issuing to printing e-contracts – is only about 15 minutes. With contracts purchased through consultants, thanks to the application of technology, Bao Viet Life has deployed an e-application where customers declare information and sign directly. Documents attached by customers will be submitted directly to Bao Viet Life, reducing the time taken to issue contracts by more than 50%, while improving quality and efficiency.
For the after-sales service, Bao Viet Life is implementing multi-channel services to receive requests from customers, directly from the customer portal or from the chatbot. The chatbot not only helps to guide customers and consultants on procedures, but is also a direct channel to receive and send requests to specialised departments, helping to reduce 20% of the time needed to receive and process requests.
Are you launching any new products or services this year?
Bao Viet Life continuously analyses and researches the needs of customers and in 2021, it will launch a new universal affiliate product.
How has Bao Viet Life adapted to the current pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected the global economy in general, and Vietnam’s economy in particular. Some provinces in Vietnam, such as Vinh Phuc, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hanoi, Saigon, Gia Lai and Ha Nam, have implemented a social gap in 2020 and the first 4 months of 2021. However, in the challenge of always brightening up opportunities, Bao Viet Life has quickly looked for new recruitment and business solutions to adapt to a new normal way of life. With the development of technology, Bao Viet Life has quickly deployed recruitment, training and online training. At the same time, sales programmes and business activity promotion are also strongly deployed on the basis of Zoom technology. 76 member companies in the whole system of Bao Viet Life have deployed customer conferences and Zoom/online recruitment conferences. In addition, Bao Viet Life promotes communication, emulation and direct support for member companies in the recruitment and support of the financial advisory team in approaching customers and selling. During the COVID period, the skill of using technology in the work of the financial advisory team was improved to adapt to the new way of doing business.
What is your business strategy for the year ahead?
In 2021, with strategic direction from Bao Viet Group, the entire Bao Viet Life system is determined to unanimously work together, unleash all resources to conquer the 2021 goal, and continue to maintain a pioneering and key role in the development of our home country’s life insurance industry, in order to bring the best benefits to our customers and the collective of staff and consultants.