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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

HSBC: Leading insurance into an era of innovation

HSBC intends to give full play to its resource advantages as it leads the insurance industry into this new era.

Hong Kong is increasingly positioning itself as a fintech (financial technology) hub, and HSBC Insurance – backed by the financial firepower of the world’s fifth largest bank – intends to give full play to its resource advantages as it leads the insurance industry into this new era. Understanding client needs through big data analysis is at the cutting edge of HSBC Insurance’s commitment to fintech, and it’s resulted in several recent product innovations – HSBC Term Protector, which was introduced in 2016, and HSBC Cancer Term Protector, launched in late 2017. The insurer dedicated staff and financial resources to investigating customers’ behaviour and preferences in preparing for the launch of the first of these innovations. “To better meet our customers’ needs in the digital era, we shifted gears and set out to understand our customers through digital analytics,” explains Edward Moncreiffe, CEO of Insurance Hong Kong, “By creating a simple, purely digital solution that is unmatched in the market in terms of value for money and ease of online application, HSBC seeks to create a long lasting change in how our customers interact with us.”
Applying for the HSBC Term Protector– which offers coverage of between HKD250,000 and HKD5 million online – takes a market-leading five minutes, and applicants need only answer three medical questions. “We launched our first, award-winning online products with great success,” notes Moncreiffe.

“Since product launch in October 2016, customer uptake has been strong, with more than 50% growth in sales registered.” This year, the concept was advanced further with the introduction of HSBC Cancer Term Protector, first of its kind in the Hong Kong online insurance market which covers both life and cancer protection. In support of the initiatives for cancer prevention, HSBC Insurance will donate HK$100 to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund for each issued policy.

“With the medical technology advances people have the chance to get better treatment, but the funds required for such treatments are increasing at a rate faster than one may be able to afford. Insurance is a key tool to manage risk and offer protection, and we would like to make it more accessible to Hong Kong people by offering an easy-to-apply product at reasonable price,” Moncreiffe says.

Continuing its pursuit of innovation throughout 2017, HSBC Insurance introduced ONEdna, which offers the market-first feature of genetic cancer screening embedded alongside other cancer and genetic testing methods into six designated protection plans. Genetic testing empowers HSBC Insurance customers with their own genetic knowledge to take predictive, proactive, and preventative actions in managing their health and wellbeing. These innovations have not gone unnoticed, with ONEdna awarded the 2017 Most Innovative Award – Health Specialty, by the Hong Kong Federation of Insurance.

A customer-centric approach
The company’s embrace of customer centricity has not only been given full play in the products HSBC Insurance sells, it has also had a major impact on its entire service proposition, both internally and externally, with the launch of the HSBC Insurance Academy at the start of 2017.

HSBC Insurance provides customers with a whole host of services, including protection, wealth, education, retirement and other planning needs, but, to ensure it can offer such an innovative range of services, the company has invested heavily in the training and development of staff so they are able to deliver it.

“The training curriculum is designed based on Engage-Discover-Recommend-Act-and-Service (EDRAS) sales process, which provides a framework to train the staff and partners based on customer- and user-centric approach,” explains Moncreiffe.“This transformation from the previous product-centric training covers the required technical knowledge, skills and sales quality in the end-to-end customer journey.”

Ever mindful of the needs of Hong Kongers at every stage of their lives, HSBC insurance also launched its Wealth Goal Insurance Plan in 2017, a development driven by its most recent Future of Retirement survey, which suggests people, particularly Millennials, are advised start saving early if they are to enjoy financial security later on in life.

The report indicates that more than two thirds of Hong Kong Millennials believe they will need to support themselves for much longer than their forebears. But they will also do so in a much more flexible manner.

Whilst Millennials say they expect to retire at the age of 61, two years younger than the working-age average, nearly two-thirds of respondents to the survey believe they will have more retirement options, such as continuing to do some form of work whilst ostensibly retired.“This report points to a ‘new normal’ of more flexibility in requirement,” according to Moncreiffe.“The challenge for our Millennials is to prepare early by taking advantage of a number of savings channels available to them such as basic wealth and insurance planning and the active review of their Mandatory Provident Fund savings, which they can grow and rebalance as their life and financial situations evolve over time.”

Under the Wealth Goal Insurance Plan, policyholders also have the option to lock-in some of the plan’s value depending on when they need more financial certainty or security.

Evolving with clients
Millennial’s shifts in lifestyle and other priorities were also at the top of HSBC Insurance’s mind with the launch of its creative platform ‘NOW’S GOOD,’ based on the various ‘Moments of Truth’, both good and bad, which individuals may encounter on their life’s journey that require insurance or other solutions, most notably term life policies.

“Based on our proprietary study, we found these moments of truth include life events like the start of a new family or birth of a child. We then leveraged findings in our marketing communications, providing trigger points which echo customers’ personal experience and drive them to look at taking up a policy,” says Moncreiffe.“The slogan ‘NOW’S GOOD’ reminds customers that despite other priorities, it is always a good time to seek protection for their loved ones, especially during these moments of transition in their lives.”

To optimise this platform, HSBC Insurance used potential client’s browsing behaviour including webpages visited and the frequency of those visits to promote its online products across news webpages, social media platforms, word search, and other online platforms. Besides, the company also promoted ‘NOW’S GOOD’ through a mobile truck to further engage customers during Christmas in 2017.

A company that cares
HSBC is a Hong Kong bank enjoying a unique position in the hearts of Hong Kongers. It’s with that in mind that HSBC Insurance has introduced several initiatives to engage and grow with staff and also make them feel part of the wider community, not just a company.

In 2017, HSBC Insurance established a Staff Development Programme to foster community within the organization, including mentorship programmes, teambuilding workshops, ‘lunch and learn’ events and other networking events where staff at every level, including executives, can share their experience. As for its wider community outreach, Moncreiffe notes, this year has seen more staff join HSBC Insurance’s corporate sustainability initiatives than ever before, and contribute more of their time to this programme.

As for its future developments, HSBC Insurance acknowledges that its sector may not have been the first to take up vanguard financial technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data techniques. At its heart, however, this leading insurer aims never to lose sight of its core responsibility – to meet customers’ personal insurance needs and help them attain their other goals in life.

As Moncreiffe puts it: “Besides keeping pace with the technology advancements, as usual, we put customer in the heart of everything, we conduct customer surveys regularly and understand the trends and giving the most suitable products and services to our customers. The ONEdna free offer and the launch of our online products are good examples. Customer-centricity is an important reason our customers stay with us.”

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