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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Taking the Lead through Sustainable Innovation

MassMutual has retained its market-leading position after introducing the lifetime annuity to Hong Kong in 2002.

With a growth-oriented vision combined with a culture of continuous innovation, MassMutual Asia has expanded steadily over the past two decades with double-digit average annual growth, and has pioneered a number of visionary financial planning solutions. For instance, it introduced universal life insurance to the Hong Kong market, a product that provides the utmost flexibility in catering to people’s ever-changing needs for wealth accumulation and protection at different life stages. The company also pioneered the guaranteed acceptance insurance that accepts customers unconditionally, even with sub-standard health status. Above all, MassMutual Asia is on a mission to make the road to retirement free of worry. It specializes in helping clients map out their retirement with an annuity plan that comes with a guaranteed lifetime annuity payout, ensuring that they have a sustainable source of retirement funds.

Pragmatic solutions inspired by insights
With its dedication to constantly breaking new ground in product and service innovations, together with its unique market positioning and distinct branding strategy, MassMutual has been honored with the “Innovative Insurance Company” accolade in the “Hong Kong Business High Flyers Awards” for five years in a row. Its commitment to continuous innovation is extremely important in helping the company meet the competitive challenges of, and differentiating itself in, the highly competitive market environment.

“We always put customers at the center of everything we do and approach their needs pragmatically. We innovate for real and practical reasons,” says Jeanne Sau, MassMutual Asia’s chief marketing officer.

Retirement is a stage of life that we will all have to face. “Without sufficient retirement funds in place, financing an unexpectedly long retirement will become a great challenge for people during their golden years. We regularly carry out analysis of Hong Kong population trends and customer research. Based on these customer insights, we pioneered the first-ever annuity plan in the market that offers a guaranteed lifetime annuity as the solution because it can effectively cope with the expenses incurred due to an unexpectedly long lifespan,” says Sau.

Pioneering the lifetime annuity
As a pioneer in introducing the lifetime annuity to the Hong Kong market back in 2002, MassMutual Asia has maintained its leadership position in this product segment ever since. Currently the company occupies a 40%-plus market share in the annuity segment in terms of policy count. And over the last twelve months, one of the key product developments from MassMutual Asia has been its brand-new “MY Lifetime Annuity”, a deferred annuity plan that aims to help Hong Kong people map out their ideal retirement plan by means of steady wealth accumulation, guaranteed annuity income for life, and the most comprehensive range of annuity options. “Unlike savings plans, which provide cash over fixed terms only, the MY Lifetime Annuity offers the advantage of guaranteed lifetime annuity payouts, which are instrumental in securing sustainable retirement funds for customers, as well as being highly effective in hedging against the financial risk of longevity,” Sau said.

Retirement planning is a highly personalized matter. With this in mind, the MY Lifetime Annuity has been specially designed with a comprehensive range of annuity options. All the annuity options offer guaranteed annuity income for life, including an option which guarantees a refund of 125% of the cash value. And if the insured person passes away during the annuity period, his or her beneficiary will continue to receive the annuity income until the balance has been fully paid. Thus, the total annuity income received will be not less than 125% of cash value. Then the “critical illness double annuity option” will offer double annuity income for up to 60 months if the insured is diagnosed with a critical illness, including later-stage cancer, heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, or undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery during the annuity period. MY Lifetime Annuity also offers an option wherein the annuity income will increase by 5% every two years to counteract inflation. Customers may also opt for the joint-annuitant package so they can share their annuity income with their spouse.

Sau added that some customers might face the dilemma of whether to exercise an annuity option with the entire cash value or pass on the accumulated cash value to their descendants. With this plan, the insured can enjoy total flexibility as he or she may exercise an annuity option with the entire cash value, or simply use part of it for the annuity and leave the remaining cash value to accumulate and grow in the policy. 

On top of these benefits, MassMutual takes the annuity plan to the next level. The MY Lifetime Annuity allows unlimited changes of insured. The policy owner may pass on the accumulated wealth in the policy to his or her descendants, so that they will be able to enjoy annuity income from the same policy. Thus, the MY Lifetime Annuity can create a valuable inheritance to spread the legacy of wealth across generations. 

“In facing the competitive business environment, we have to maintain keen foresight and anticipate customers’ needs. Going forward, we will proactively leverage the latest in technology to raise the level of our services. We are committed to delivering an engaging customer experience and value-added services by offering our suite of innovative and flexible products, the support of our professional financial consultants and advanced service platforms,” says Sau.  

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