Muang Thai Life banks on Regional Growth

MUANG Thai Life Assurance Plc plans to deepen its presence in regional markets with a focus on Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The company’s sharpened regional focus reflects the confidence it gained from having set up joint venture firms in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia last year.

The announcement came as Muang Thai Group, which is a holding company of Muang Thai Life Assurance Plc, said it had set aside a budget of more than Bt1 billion a year from 2018-22 to expand its investments in new operations that relate to digital and insurance businesses, including startup ventures, said Sara Lamsam, Muang Thai Life Assurance Plc’s president and chief executive officer. He is also a director of Muang Thai Group Holding Co Ltd.

“Muang Thai Group Holding Co Ltd invested several hundred million baht in new businesses last year, as we will expand this investment with several billion baht in the next three to five years,” Sara said at a press conference yesterday.

The increased investment formed part of the company’s efforts to move its businesses forward in the digital era. This shift would see the company become a partner and adviser to its customers in addition to merely selling insurance premiums, he said.

“We had success with establishing joint ventures with our partners in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia last year and now we are awaiting a move by the Myanmar government to open the country’s insurance business to foreign investors,” Sara said.

“When Myanmar does pass legislation to allow foreign investment in this sector, we will be the first foreign firm to establish a joint venture with a Myanmar insurance firm for this business.”

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are the next in line for the company’s expansion plans for this year and the next, said Sara, citing the appeal of these countries with a combined population of more than 300 million.

“We will focus on five areas – digital insurance, health focus, regional company, segment of one, and touch point – to do business both in Thailand and overseas by keeping close to what our customers want and conduct business that matches with their demand under the concept of ‘Customers @ the heart’,” he said.

For the domestic market, the company has made a shift in its business to become more advisory based, with staff taking on the mindset of becoming a partner and adviser to the customers. This was in line with the country’s move towards a digital economy, he said.

Sara is targeting growth in the insurance industry of 7 per cent, compared with last year. He expects the company’s business expansion to be in line with the industry’s.

Muang Thai Life Assurance Plc reported that the total value of premiums reached Bt102.68 billion for last year, up 6 per cent from 2016. Of this figure, Bt31.06 billion came from new premiums, with the remaining Bt71.61 billion from continuing policies.

The company increased its 2017 net profit from 2016, which had come in at Bt8.3 billion, Sara said.

With the shift in the business model, Sara said the company would train more staff for financial advisory roles and that staffing levels would be maintained. The company has up to 30,000 workers, excluding its sale agents.

“The insurance business is different from others financial businesses,” Sara said. “Despite the disruption caused by new forms of information technology, the insurance industry still needs human resources to communicate with the customers, and also to act as advisers to them. As a result, we no plans to reduce our staff and will recruit new workers, especially in information technology and other digital operations.”

 

Source: The Nation

 

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