Manulife unveils plans for a new Hong Kong prestige centre

"It shows the scale of the increase that we are seeing in mainland customers' demand"

Manulife unveils plans for a new Hong Kong prestige centre

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

Manulife Hong Kong is set to inaugurate its second prestige customer centre in the area, reaffirming its commitment to high-net-worth individuals.

Through this development, the insurer is taking strategic steps to capture the growing business from returning mainland Chinese customers. The new centre is situated in the popular tourist area of Tsim Sha Tsui, will span over 5,000 square feet and will complement its existing facility of more than 10,000 square feet at Gateway.

“It shows the scale of the increase that we are seeing in mainland customers' demand,” Manulife Asia CEO Phil Witherington said in an interview with the SCMP. Witherington was named head for the region a few months ago as part of the Canadian insurer’s efforts to redomicile in Hong Kong.

The insurer’s decision aligns with the trend observed among major financial institutions like HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Prudential, and Sun Life, all of whom have expanded their luxury customer centres in recent years to cater to the affluent segment.

Growth despite global slowdowns

The reopening of China's border with Hong Kong earlier this year provided a boost to Manulife's operations. In the second quarter, Hong Kong sales surged, doubling to HK$2.1 billion (US$267.9 million), with returning mainland customers seeking products to mitigate the risks posed by a weakening yuan.

“We will continue to invest and increase the level of investments in our digital tools to support agents and customers,” Witherington said. He further added that the insurer plans to invest HK$3.6 billion in Asia in a three-year period ending this year.

“We have around 100,000 agents across Asia, and our plan is actually to increase the productivity of our agents. It is less about the number of agents but more about how productive these agents are. Our investment in digital tools can enhance the productivity and user experience for our 13 million customers across Asia,” he said.

The insurer reported growth of 11% in its premiums during the three years of the pandemic, even though the whole Hong Kong insurance industry saw sales decline 22% during this period. This is mainly due to its agents turning their attention towards domestic clients.

“We have seen a very strong domestic performance, as well as a strong rebound in mainland Chinese visitors in the first half of this year," Witherington said. “Looking ahead, we will focus on organic growth, and we are cautiously optimistic that the second half of this year will continue the growth momentum, as we have introduced new products to target the health and retirement needs of customers.”

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