SUN LIFE OF Canada (Philippines), Inc. eyes to sustain market leadership this year as it targets the middle market to expand its client base.

“We always want to exceed our target… We are aiming to retain our market leadership, especially as we’re celebrating our 125th year in the Philippines next year,” Sun Life Philippines President Alexander S. Narciso said in a press conference on Tuesday in Makati City.

“We want to match our performance last year. That’s possible.”

Sun Life Philippines retained its ranking as the top insurer in the country in terms of premium income in 2018 with P37.39 billion, up 16% from P32.11 billion recorded the previous year.

To sustain its growth, Mr. Narciso said Sun Life will strengthen recruitment of new financial advisers and enhance the productivity of its agency force.

“Once you get your advisers, (you have to) make sure they’re productive,” he said. “This year, we have plans of launching an end-to-end straight-through processing — digital tools — to make it easier for our advisers to present and close their sales, plus some other digital tools that we’re offering.”

Sun Life Philippines targets to capture additional 2,000 agents to end with 17,000 from the current 15,000.

“One particular segment that has been a pleasant surprise for us is the millennials. We have been experiencing the entry of millennial advisers,” he said.

Apart from adding more agents and enhancing their productivity, Mr. Narciso added that providing relevant products will also spur Sun Life’s growth this year.

“It’s really about offering products that are going to respond or address the needs of our kababayan (fellowmen)… We do have quite a number of market research because we really want to find out what’s really the top of mind of our potential clients so we’re able to address them.”

In line with its target to capture five million clients by 2020, the insurer’s president said they are tapping the growing middle income class.

“We want to get to that five million clients. That’s the main objective. And if we just stay on the (classes) A, B and upper C, it’s not enough,” Mr. Narciso said. “We really need to the lower segment, which is the C-2, and I’ve read they represent an additional 14% of the population.”

To tap the lower-middle market segment, he said partnering with firms already serving the segment is the primary strategy of the insurer.

“Classic example is USSC (Universal Storefront Services Corp.) or Western Union. They’re already in that market,” he said. “(We) just (have to) partner with an institution who’s already there that’s well-respected in that area. And somehow, we can bundle our products.”

In 2016, the life insurer forged a partnership with USSC in a bid to introduce life insurance products to the mass market.

Launched in 2016, the five-year growth plan of Sun Life dubbed as Rise PH seeks to capture five million Filipinos by 2020 to foster financial inclusion.

Mr. Narciso said this goal is achievable given that Sun Life Philippines had 4.3 million clients as of end-2018. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal