,Hong Kong

MetLife Hong Kong's Lee Wood unveils a new holistic digital insurance platform

He introduces MetLife Discovery, a first-of-its-kind tool that helps customers visualise their insurance needs.

Lee Wood is the chief executive officer of MetLife Hong Kong since 2016. A seasoned insurance professional with over 15 years of experience, he is responsible for helping MetLife become the leading customer-focussed insurance company in Hong Kong. In this exclusive interview with Insurance Asia, Lee talks about how the company is adapting to digitalisation, its new initiatives, and the goals he wants to achieve.

How is MetLife Hong Kong adapting to the big push towards digitalisation of the financial services industry?
Digitalisation has the potential to thoroughly disrupt the insurance industry the way it has for many other industries. And I am excited that MetLife is taking leadership in some very real areas here in Hong Kong.

Our focus at MetLife is to not just digitise for our own efficiency—which is, of course, important in order to lower costs—but to find ways to link up with and leverage all the other digital initiatives that are going on in the world to bring a better value proposition to our customers.

One of our initiatives is MetLife Discovery, a new digital platform that empowers consumers to discover insurance needs and coverage in a few clicks. We launched MetLife Discovery to ensure that we start relationships with consumers through meaningful conversations built on simplicity, transparency, speed, and efficiency.

MetLife Discovery allows anyone to come to our website and quickly and relatively easily understand information about insurance, as well as find out what other people like themselves are considering in terms of insurance coverage. The information given by MetLife Discovery includes the money they should expect to spend and general price indicators for the cost of such coverage. MetLife Discovery is a new and unique digital platform that helps consumers quickly and easily discover and visualise their insurance needs before intelligently allocating resources in a new way.

With the ability to capture smarter data, the platform provides coverage mapping. Leveraging government statistics, the platform estimates a consumer’s income range according to their occupation. Consumers can get a holistic view of insurance needs across life, critical illness, hospital & medical benefits, accident protection, and savings—all without disclosing much personal information.

The platform also uses an intuitive design that allows people to use any device for access and then “play” around and create a tailor-made insurance package. It is simple, easy to use, and available anywhere at any time.

How has MetLife Hong Kong progressed under your leadership?
I am very proud of the progress we have made together on several fronts. First, our distribution teams have worked closely with us over the last year through many different business and market changes and have allowed us to maintain an industry leading 48% year-on-year growth rate of our agency business. We have a tremendously high quality professional agency force, a strong and stable telemarketing team and wonderful independent advisor partners who are all committed to our goal of being a customer-focussed insurer. This commitment and professionalism has allowed us to rapidly expand our sales force over the last few years and is moving us closer to our goal of expanding to 1,600 agents within the next two years.

Second, in terms of operational excellence, we are proud of all the great products we have been able to develop and deliver last year. Indeed, we have been a product leader in many categories last year.

We are particularly pleased with the digital initiatives we have such as MetLife Discovery. In addition to these customer facing initiatives, we have also modernized our workspace and are optimizing internal operations to enhance our efficiency and deliver better value for money to our customers.

What three goals are you focussed on for the next year?
Internally, we really focus on just two key concepts: growth and efficiency. The way to growth will be to first, continue the work we are doing to deliver the best customer-centric solutions—either products or enhanced risk assessment tools that let us provide better offers to customers.

Second is to make all things easier for customers to understand and buy—including MetLife Discovery and our new digital application process. We think customers are becoming more insurance savvy and will really appreciate the transparency MetLife Discovery provides, as well as the ease in creating a holistic protection plan.

Then we will continue to expand perhaps the most well-trained, digitally-enabled, professional agency salesforces in Hong Kong to 1,600 agents over the next two years. We will also deepen strong relationships with independent advisors through product innovation, including investment-linked products and diabetes offers. Finally, we will empower our strong and stable telemarketing staff to expand their capabilities to leverage digital communications platforms.

In terms of efficiency, we will utilise digital technology to both improve services and lower costs. As noted above, we now have a complete digital application process that will enable customers to purchase products and potentially have them issued in a speedy and efficient way.

As customer expectations are constantly increasing, so are the demands on our people. I also look to continue to invest in the development of our staff and provide more support to make sure we maintain our team talent. It will ensure we have what we need to deliver the innovation to compete in the future. Disruption is coming. MetLife is actually leading the way.

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