Manulife Asia on track to hit 2025 profit target despite economic weakness By Reuters

© Reuters.

By Selena Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Asia unit of Manulife Financial (NYSE:) is on track to account for half of the Canadian insurer’s core earnings by 2025 despite the economic downturn and the impact of COVID -19 in its key markets, the new regional chief executive told Reuters.

Manulife set the profit target for Asia, which last year brought in 35% of the group’s global profits, in September last year and the sector’s challenges have accelerated this year as the economy China is slowing down and COVID cases are reappearing in many areas.

Asia, where Manulife operates in 13 markets with around 13 million customers, dragged down the company’s earnings in 2021 and weakened its performance in the first quarter.

“I think we are broadly on the right track, our strategy is broadly on the right track,” said Asia CEO Damien Green, who was named head of Manulife Asia in May, four years after having joined the Canadian insurance company and was most recently its Hong Kong subsidiary. chief.

“We have all been disrupted and distracted over the past two years…but the secular trends in Asia are the same with regard to life insurance, in particular, a rising middle class and a growing need for protection of health and retirement, and China.”

Asia is an important region for global and regional insurers, with international companies attracted by the region’s rapidly growing middle class seeking life and health insurance as well as investment options and low rates cover.

Manulife missed analysts’ estimates in the first quarter on weak sales in Hong Kong, one of its biggest Asian markets that saw a surge in COVID cases in the early months of 2022 amid weeks-long restrictions. suffocating the economy.

Green said the industry hopes border control between Hong Kong and the mainland will ease in the fourth quarter, allowing southbound travelers to buy insurance products in the financial hub – a source of key activity for insurers.

Despite the slowdown, Manulife increased its agent workforce in Hong Kong by 10% last year and added another 7% in the first quarter as it bets on a business recovery.

The insurer also plans to increase its agency staff at double-digit rates in Vietnam and Indonesia, he added.

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