Online tools allowed Allianz PNB Life to grow its premium income by almost 67 percent last year despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“Digital tools have made it easier than ever to understand and avail of insurance and investment solutions, and our ‘life changers’ are always ready and happy to serve,” says Allianz PNB Life chief executive Alexander Grenz.
The company’s growth was much faster than the 5.9-percent increase in the life insurance industry’s total premium income to P247.7 billion in 2020 from P233.9 billion in 2019 despite the severe restrictions in the second quarter at the height of the enhanced community quarantine when agency licensing exams and face-to-face selling were halted as the government restricted in-person interactions.
Grenz says while the industry’s total premium income increased by 5.9 percent in 2020, new business annual premium equivalent actually decreased by 19.80 percent, which means that growth in terms of new premium generated by insurers was worse than in 2019.
“We at Allianz PNB Life are proud to have reversed this trend by earning P2.2 billion in growth, equivalent to 27.5 percent growth in NBAPE and ranking 8th in actual figures among industry peers versus 11th the year prior. During the same period, our company’s total premium income increased by 66.9 percent to P15.76 billion, jumping three places likewise from 10th to 7th. Our sales performance is complemented by the achievement of a positive bottom line of P188.9 million in 2020,” he says via e-mail.
He says the pandemic was a wake-up call in terms of the significant protection gap across Philippine society as a whole, with stories of exorbitant hospital bills becoming all-too-familiar and highlighted the inadequacy of the public health system in terms of sufficient coverage.
“The pandemic, however, led to a positive development in terms of accelerating insurance distribution through digital means. Allianz PNB Life was among the first to have its online sales process approved by the Insurance Commission, so our life-changers were able to quickly become experts in it,” says Grenz, a German national who has been living in the Philippines for six years now.
“I believe that greater acceptance of digital sales tools, heightened awareness on the importance of health and protection solutions, and increased promotion and education programs from industry players will lead to the industry growing further in 2021,” he said.
Grenz says the company’s strong performance continued in the first quarter of 2021, with the achievement of P1.1 billion in annualized new premiums—an achievement that took six months to reach last year.
“Our stellar sales performance is due in great part to our agents and financial advisors who maximized our online sales tools, the effectiveness of our lead generation campaigns, the fair value of our product offerings, and our hardworking and resilient colleagues who ‘stretched for amazing’ when we introduced the objectives and key results framework last year,” he says.
Grenz says what enabled the company to achieve the strong growth is its ability shift to a work-from-home environment efficiently without sacrificing productivity. “Staff who were required in the office to maintain systems and customer service standards were provided transportation and a safe environment to work in. Employees who could function effectively from home were provided with utility subsidies and access to online training for their continuous development,” he says.
The company introduced a work well pact to maintain a healthy work-life balance among employees and support their physical and mental wellness. This included appropriate training for people managers.
“Being among the first life insurers to have its online sales process approved also contributed to this strategy. Our digital enhancements extended to online recruitment, selling, training, and client communication initiatives,” he says.
This year, Allianz PNB Life is launching a new work model which empowers colleagues to work effectively from anywhere in the Philippines and enhance policy issuance standards to achieve its target of five minutes.
“We will continue to focus on transformation by further investing in our IT systems and enhancing our digital roadmap in collaboration with our distribution partners. Finally, we will develop a digital ecosystem that will provide ease of access to various products and exclusive benefits for both prospects and policyholders,” he says.
Grenz says Allianz PNB Life has significant growth aspirations, “because we firmly believe in our purpose to secure the lives of Filipinos and bridge the local protection gap which unfortunately remains in the trillions of pesos.”
“We will continue to invest in our digital solutions to further increase and empower our life changers and make it easier for our customers to interact with us. For instance, our client onboarding platform, Allianz Journey, will be constantly enhanced so customers can receive their policies in as short as five minutes. We will also further pursue our sustainability initiatives such as Ride Safe and Allianz Kaagapay, and meet the demand for better health and protection by offering new products and solutions,” says Grenz.
Grenz believes that the insurance industry is a vital contributor to the Philippine economy, with around 2 percent of the gross domestic product. The sector creates jobs, consumes services which then supports other industries, and creates profit which gets reinvested into the country.
“By providing protection and investment solutions, the insurance industry also ensures that policyholders are protected from financial ruin and are assisted in their wealth accumulation objectives,” he says.
He says a major component of the company’s record-breaking performance is its superior offering in single premium unit-linked products and dividend-paying funds which offered high and stable yields in addition to protection benefits.
“It is widely accepted in the industry that Filipinos have heightened awareness for health and protection solutions and this has been reflected in a higher share of health insurance sales in our portfolio. Our prime health products are Allianz Well! and eAZy Health while our main regular premium unit-linked product, Allianz Shield, bundles superior returns in combination with riders to address coverage requirements,” he says.
Grenz says his personal advocacy is to make insurance and asset management products accessible to clients in the Philippines where insurance penetration remains very low.
“I love it here in the Philippines, my home now for six years because I very much appreciate the people and the beautiful places to visit. I especially enjoy visiting beaches, diving, and doing other outdoor activities. I am driven by a sense of purpose and so embrace Allianz’s goal to secure the future of our customers and offer solutions that are simple, fair, and sustainable,” he says.