Manulife achievedrobust new business growth in Asia in the first quarter of 2021.

General manager Asia Anil Wadhwani reviewed the performance with financial analysts following the disclosure of the insurer's Q1 2021 results. The insurer’s new business doubled compared with the first quarter of 2020, propelled in particular by sales in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The insurer attributes this growth to the improved product mix, coupled with its repricing discipline.

"[we have] taken a number of steps to focus on expense efficiency. Throughout 2020, when we were going through the pandemic situation, our business was very resilient and we did not stop investing in our business, be it in terms of expanding our distribution or investing in our talent and digital capabilities,” Wadhwani points out.

These measures have enabled Manulife to successfully navigate the post-pandemic economic transition. “We were able to capture the rebound that we saw in some of the economies, specifically China, Hong Kong and Singapore, and the ongoing momentum that we witnessed in Vietnam. If you look at our numbers, barring the volume in Japan, we have seen a very broad level uptick in volumes across different markets in Asia. Our sales were up 22 per cent year-on-year,” the general manager continues.

Health and income protection products fuelled Manulife’s success in Asia, Wadhwani adds. “[this] highlights that the health and protection needs are absolute top of mind for our clients. We are seeing that in many of our conversations with our customers.” 

Bright future ahead?  

Manulife believes it is well positioned to capture growth in Asia, Wadhwani adds, thanks to its diversified geography, product mix and channels. Roy Gori, Manulife's CEO, adds that other countries in Asia have been a major focus for the insurer in recent years. He points out that the combined markets of Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia contributed 50 per cent of Manulife’s new business value. In 2016, the contribution of Asia Other was 29 per cent, Gori notes.

“So Anil's focus on really providing a much more diverse contribution from a geographic perspective as well as from a product perspective is really starting to gain traction, and we are seeing the benefits of that in Q1, and we expect to see that continue throughout 2021 and beyond,” the CEO says.