Aims to break into the top 10 in 2016
Baguio, 15 March 2016 – FWD Life Philippines (“FWD”), the fastest-growing life insurance company in the Philippines today, will open its new business hub and Customer Connect Center in the City of Pines by the second quarter of 2016 in Session Road. FWD sees the continued emergence and development of Baguio City as a strong indication that it will continue to significantly contribute to the company’s presence and business performance in the country.
FWD, the first life insurer to have been granted a license to operate in the Philippines under the new Insurance Code, says the increasing competitiveness of Baguio and the Cordillera region in general, is a welcome development for FWD. The region ranks third in terms of the highest per capita income in Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) —behind only the National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon—a compelling reason why FWD sees the area’s potential as a hub for continuing investments and economic growth. “We are very bullish on the growth prospects for our business here in Northern Luzon. It is a strategically important geography for FWD Philippines and forms an essential part of our presence in the country,” says FWD Life Philippines President and CEO, Peter Grimes. “The widening awareness for health and wealth protection and medium to long term savings has been evident among the locals of Baguio and the Cordilleras, and by the increasing number of Filipinos supported by FWD products.”
The commitment to integrate technology as a pillar of progress is one of the things that FWD proudly shares in common with Baguio. “Innovative technology has been one of Baguio City’s main development pillars, such as the current use of electric vehicles to curb traffic and clean the city’s air,” Grimes adds.
In 2015, the Northern Luzon region has contributed more than 10% of the company’s new business annualized premium income (APE) from the Bancassurance sales channel. Baguio, meanwhile, accounted for almost 20% of Agency sales’ new business APE. Furthermore, FWD now has approximately 200 Financial Wealth Planners (FWPs) in North Luzon, with some 130 based in the mountain city, as well as FWD Financial Solutions Consultants (FSCs) located in Security Bank branches locally and across the Philippines.
Addressing the challenge
While a lot of attention has been focused on addressing the needs of the great unbanked sector, the truth is, the number of under-insured or uninsured Filipinos has increased over the years with the protection gap growing ever wider.
Insurance penetration in the Philippines, at present, stands at around 1.8% while the ASEAN markets average a little less than double that. Within this group of uninsured Filipinos are individuals with a millennial mindset who use technology extensively to make better financial decisions and manage their financial resources. Today’s Filipino consumers are highly experiential and place increasing importance on products, services and convenience that let them enjoy their individuality and pursue their passions worry free. Tech-savvy, driven, and motivated savers, they use technology platforms and data sources to live their lives efficiently and make better financial choices. Armed with the latest devices and with unprecedented access to information, knowledge, and data brings them financial security.
This is exactly why FWD is continually improving its user friendly technology and is committed to creating a portfolio of savings, investment, and protection products that people see as relevant, intuitive, and affordable.
Cancer statistics in the Philippines, for example, are a genuine cause of concern for all, as 75% of Filipinos who succumb to this disease are under 50 years old. In Baguio, for example, the city health office revealed that at least one person succumbs to the disease every day, of which lung cancer is the most common form. Officials of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, meanwhile, noted that some three to four cases of lung cancer a week and at least 10 cases of liver cancer are confirmed in the area every month.
“This is exactly why we created “Fight Plan”—a cancer plan that covers all types of cancer,” Grimes shares. “Our end-view for this product is simply that no form of cancer should be excluded, because even early detection treatments cost real money and can pose a financial burden to Filipinos.”
“We will continue to introduce new health and protection products this year – complementing our range of Variable Unit Linked (VUL) products – to offer a broader range of products that address protection needs to compliment savings and investment goals. The industry overemphasizes wealth creation in my opinion, and not enough focus is placed on health and wealth protection.”
Knowing that Filipinos need greater access and convenience to products and servicing, FWD continues to build momentum in its distribution reach by strengthening its Bancassurance partnership with Security Bank. “2015 was also a banner year for our excellent partnership with Security Bank and we will see continued strong growth together with the introduction of new products, expanding distribution reach, and almost doubling the number of branch-based advisers in 2016,” adds Grimes.
At the end of its first full year of operations in 2015, FWD Life—with its customer base nearing 10,000 policyholders—has achieved close to Php2.4 billion in total premium income. “With this level of production in 2015, our first full year of operations, we would expect FWD Life’s market ranking to be close to being a top 10 life insurer. Our aim is to break into the top 10 in 2016,” Grimes shares.
 “Agri, industry sectors slow down Cordillera economy,” Sun Star article by Larry P. Fabian dated July 31, 2015
 “Who Are The Filipino Millennials And What Are Their Spending Habits?,” eCompareMo article dated April 2015
 “Lung cancer ranks #1 in smoke related deaths in Baguio City,” Northern Dispatch Weekly article dated February 2014
 “BGHMC soon to provide complete & state–of–the–art cancer facility,” Baguio Midland Courier article