Remote insurance processes are going from strength to strength. High net worth clients are increasingly choosing to incept policies remotely irrespective of whether they are impeded by COVID-related travel restrictions. So, in this issue of Vision, PCS by Mercer Group Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Jason Kwong, explains the process in more detail, we look at two case studies of clients incepting policies remotely for very different planning objectives , and see how a family is using a savings plan to safeguard wealth transfer to their third generation.

 



Pretty office lady is using digital tablet, standing against illuminated highrise corporate buildings at night time.

Digitally Connected: The growing popularity of remote insurance processes

Since the inception of remote insurance processes in 2020, PCS by Mercer has seen it grow in both acceptance and popularity, with strong support coming from our customers, insurers as well as our banking partners. And even as borders reopen and quarantine restrictions ease in some parts of the world, the demand for remote processes continues to increase. We speak to Jason Kwong*, PCS by Mercer Group Deputy Chief Operating Officer, to find out why.

 

What are remote insurance processes?

Remote process is the broad term we use to describe the end-to-end life protection onboarding services to clients. Using the latest and best available technology, we can do everything remotely, from consultation and in country medicals to documentation and contract signing. It’s important to note that customer privacy and regulatory compliance are prioritized in all circumstances.

 

Our digital journey began as the pandemic struck Southeast Asia in 2020. PCS by Mercer were amongst the first to implement remote procedures, offering clients access to Singapore and Bermuda insurance products from Singapore. Now, clients from 5 jurisdictions can continue to have access to those same insurance products as well as solutions from Hong Kong – without having to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong.

 

Remote procedures are evolving rapidly, and all parts of the industry are learning to embrace different ways of doing things. Insurers are more open to receiving e-signatures and documents electronically, as are private bank partners.

 

What percentage of customers are now choosing to utilize remote insurance processes?

The demand has been high. Between 70-80% of customers now want to find solutions remotely rather than go through the process in-person. Of course, we can also use a hybrid of the two procedures. It really is customer dependent. We are entirely client-led, so we work hard deliver whatever best suits individual clients. We tailor our solutions and processes. The key thing is that clients now have a choice.

 

What are the benefits of remote processes for clients?

Aside from the most obvious advantage, which is having access without having to travel, there are a number of benefits for clients, including:

  • Increased choice: The addition of remote processes means our clients can choose from a wider offering of products. The agility of variety, in turn, enhances solutions tailoring. For example, after a period in which clients have been choosing Whole of Life policies, the current interest rate environment means we are seeing some renewed interest in Universal Life (UL) policies, and the availability of remote procedures means that there are more types of life insurance to choose from. The increased options sometimes mean there is more competitive pricing.
  • Enhanced documentation processes: From faster documentation to e-signatures, we are reducing paperwork whilst protecting customer privacy.
  • Faster turnaround time: Each remote stage can save time, which means we can expedite the entire process by as much as 30 to 50 percent. Life insurances procedures, which can take up to three months in-person can now be completed in approximately six weeks. And Savings Plans can take even less time. In one specific instance, we were able to complete a policy in less than a week.
  • Maximize diversification: Remote access means customers can build offshore assets and diversify their investment portfolio, which is important to many investors in volatile times.
  • Sustainability: Some of our customers are increasingly concerned about reducing their footprint, and remote processes enable them to conserve resources and time.

As the Deputy Chief Operating Officer, one of your key deliverables is innovation, can you tell us what PCS by Mercer is bringing to the market?

One of the key things the Operations Team is focusing on is improving the entire interface for our clients. We are currently one of the industry leaders in remote procedures, so we are learning as we go in some respects, but our commitment to customer experience means we are continuously improving at macro and micro levels. We want to be the best choice for our clients.

 

Our ambitious future goals are remote authentication, and integrated insurer’s data feeds where possible. Right now, we are busy building a great mobile application or “app”, so our customers have access to PCS by Mercer at their fingertips. We are conscious that the next generation of high net worth individuals are growing in number and significance. They have largely grown up in the digital world, so the app will provide real time updates on individual policies. Features and details will include, premiums and sum assured, annual review reminders, and direct consultant contacts, so our customers can plan ahead while staying fully informed.

 

While staying at the front and innovating, we are conscious our business operates across four jurisdictions, so the team always ensures we remain compliant with regulators.

 

* Jason Kwong joined PCS by Mercer Group in 2021 as the Group Deputy COO. He has close to 20 years of experience in financial services and was previously with Noah International( Hong Kong) Limited where he was Executive Director and Head of Global Insurance & also served as CEO for Noah Insurance (Hong Kong) for four years. Prior to that, Jason held senior roles in Richard Abbett Asia; AXA China and Convoy Financial Services where he honed his expertise and network for insurance broking and planning for high net worth clients. He is also an active compliance committee member of the Institute of Financial Planners in Hong Kong.

Davin Wong

 

  Jason Kwong

  Group Deputy Chief Operating Officer

  Private Client Services by Mercer Ltd.

  E: Jason.Kwong@mercerpcs.com



Young handsome dad and pretty young mom carrying lovely little daughter who is holding a fancy wrapped Christmas gift while all smiling joyfully in front of the Christmas tree in a shopping mall

Changing Priorities: A new Saving Plan helps this couple take care of the third generation

 

 Background

 

Our clients are a married couple in their 50s who jointly own a family business. Their total net worth is over US$100M. They have 2 adult children. One is studying; the other works in the family business and has a newborn. The baby is the first grandchild for our clients.

 

 Key considerations

 

  • The spouses each have existing life protection policies of US$10M sum assured that listed their children as the beneficiaries. And prior to the arrival of their grandchild, the couple was very comfortable with their coverage for legacy planning purposes. More so because their adult children were married, and they felt their priorities could shift from the next generation.

  • But the arrival of their newborn grandchild changed their perspective. The saw their responsibilities expand to the third generation and wanted to support the grandchild’s eventual (top class) education costs and even marriage expenses.

 Solution

 

We recommended a savings plan in addition to their existing coverage, setting them up as the policy owners and the second generation as the insured. Our recommendations were based on the solution feature that enables the clients to change life insured and ownership to their grandchild whenever appropriate.

 

Our clients chose a savings plan with a single-pay premium of US$2M. The projected growth of the savings plan will reach US$4M when the grandchild starts her tertiary education at age 18. Alternatively, the savings plan can serve as the grandchild’s family fund as the total cash value will further accumulate to around US$7M when the grandchild turns 30.

 

Key takeaways

 

  • Clients are advised to diversify risk and investment asset classes by incorporating life insurance into family portfolio  
  • Key life events such as births and marriages should precipitate a coverage review in addition to annual reviews.
  • Life protection products offer low-risk wealth transfer mechanisms. As such, they are key in safeguarding your family’s generational wealth. 
Isaac Lim

  Carol To

  Executive Director

  Private Client Services by Mercer Ltd.

  E: Carol.To@mercerpcs.com


Female senior manager with artificial limb smiling towards Chinese male colleague, using laptop to make notes

Fast and Discreet: Find out how Mercer PCS helped a client establish a savings plan in less than a week

 Background

 

Our client is the general manager of her family business and a highly experienced investor. She is in her mid-40s and is married with a child in high school, they live in Taiwan.

 

 Key considerations

 

  • When we met, our client’s key focus was legacy planning. She was looking for a solution which creates a segregated pool of assets which are directed to certain family members outside the knowledge of other stakeholders in the family, including the spouse. She also wanted certainty in transferring the asset – in its entirety – on to her designated family member through an individual ownership structure (rather than a trust).
  • To balance her investment portfolio, and to minimize margin call risk, our client had a strong preference for solutions offering guaranteed cash value. She was not particularly concerned with rising interest rates as long as the solution returns adequately cover the financing costs in long run.
  • Due to stringent pandemic quarantine requirements, our client was unwilling to travel for either a medical or to procure a policy.

 Solution

 

PCS tailored a Hong Kong Savings Plan for the client:

  • The policy could be implemented through completely remote procedures, so the client did not need to travel.
  • Her wealth transfer objective is fulfilled by death benefits payout or cash value withdrawal to her child – her designated beneficiary.
  • The turnaround time was reduced to five days, which helped to preserve confidentiality.

Key takeaways

 

  • Individually owned policy can be pledged for premium financing, and the long term portfolio growth will well-cover financing costs.
  • Remote processes through Hong Kong, Bermuda and Singapore offer wider product choices for clients, and quicker turnarounds (when compared with in-person procedures), especially for non-medical application processes.  
Cindy Siu

  Julianne Tse

  Managing Director

  Private Client Services by Mercer Limited

  E: Julianne.Tse@mercerpcs.com


1148950342

Whole of Life for Peace of Mind: See how the right life protection policy is helping this client manage his personal and business risks

 Background

 

Our client is the CEO of a listed company with a net worth of US$800 million. He is 45 years old and married with two children, who are aged 12 and 15. The family lives in China. 

 

 Key considerations

 

  • Our client’s main concern is the ongoing welfare of his family should anything happen to him. Young families tend to need a strong cash flow to support living and educational expenses; his children will be in high school and university for a long time yet, and his wife is not in paid employment.
  • His secondary concern is to mitigate the possibility of domestic business risks.
  • COVID-19 related restrictions and concerns periodically hamper our client’s travel plans – as is the case for many PCS by Mercer clients – so he was reluctant to travel overseas to undertake the necessary medicals. Simultaneously, he was keen to implement a policy in the shortest possible timeframe.

 Solution

 

We recommended several suitable solutions from which the client chose:

 

  • Whole of Life coverage of US$65 million. The total premium of US$26 million is financed.
  • The Bermuda-based policy was incepted using end-to-end remote processes, including domestic medical examination in China. The entire arrangement was completed in just six weeks. (Whole of Life policies can take up to three months when using face-to-face processes.)
  • The sum assured and cash value will increase based on dividends/bonus increases.

Key takeaways

 

  • The cash value of whole life insurance will not decrease, so the policy is unlikely to lapse. This category of life protection is, therefore, more conducive to premium financing.
  • Rising interest rates are generally manageable, especially when the client’s private banker manages the loan on an active basis.
  • The right life protection policy can help mitigate personal and business risks. 
Yvette Liu

 

  Glenda Tan

  Managing Director

  Private Client Services by Mercer Pte. Ltd.

  E: Glenda.Tan@mercerpcs.com