CIMB Wealth Sells AIA Products

Excerpt from The Star 31st March 2009
Tuesday March 31, 2009

CIMB Wealth forms alliance with AIA

Tie-up will enable a holistic approach to financial planning

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Wealth Advisors Bhd yesterday formalised a 10-year strategic alliance with American International Assurance Bhd (AIA) to offer a wide range of differentiated and innovative insurance protection solutions.

CIMB Wealth Advisors chief executive officer Tan Beng Wah said the company’s 5,500 agents and financial planners would market insurance products underwritten by AIA and its subsidiary AIA Takaful International Bhd.

“It (strategic alliance) will enable both parties to leverage on their proven strengths and expertise in the areas of wealth planning and insurance protection solutions respectively to offer Malaysians a holistic approach to financial planning,” he told reporters after the agreement signing ceremony yesterday.

Tan said the company’s agents and wealth planners would now be able to offer customised financial solutions to clients by bundling some of the insurance products with other offerings such as unit trust funds, credit cards, structured products, wills and trusts services provided by the CIMB group.

He also said there was potential to cross-sell their products to benefit both organisations.

“It took us about a year to seal this partnership and last month we came out with a product offering that combines education with insurance,” he said.

He said CIMB would initially introduce about seven AIA insurance products.

AIA chief executive officer Khor Hock Seng said: “Through this alliance AIA will be able to tap into CIMB Wealth Advisors’ agency distribution strength and 35 regional offices to provide a full range of diversified insurance products.”

Khor said AIA would also focus on designing new and innovatice products to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Products currently underwritten and developed by AIA include traditional life, investment-linked medical, education and endowment.

CIMB Wealth Advisors is a subsidiary of CIMB-Principal Asset Management Bhd, which is jointly owned by CIMB Group and the Principal Financial Group in the United States.

AIA, with 60 years of local market presence, is one of the country’s largest life insurers with 23 branches nationwide and over 1,000 employees and 10,000 agents.

Penyakit TB Kembali

Excerpt from The Star, 27th March 2009
Published: Friday March 27, 2009 MYT 2:16:00 PM

Tuberculosis re-emerging but private doctors unaware

KUALA LUMPUR: The once controlled tuberculosis disease is spreading again in Malaysia because private doctors have failed to realise the disease has re-emerged.

Respiratory Medical Institute (IPR) director Datin Dr Aziah Ahmad Mahayiddin said a standard practice required doctors to send patients suffering from acute cough for two weeks for tuberculosis tests.

“However, the procedure is often not fully adhered to as most private clinics do not have a laboratory,’’ she said, adding that the disease was contagious and needed to be treated immediately.

Dr Aziah said that in the 90s, tuberculosis had been controlled and had dropped to a minimal and certain private practitioners had forgotten about it.

“Some doctors are not aware that it is re-emerging in the country,’’ she said.

Tuberculosis is a highly infectious, often deadly, disease that mostly attacks the lungs and whose classic symptoms include chronic cough, blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

Statistics show reported tuberculosis cases in Malaysia has risen from 61.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2005 to 63.1 cases last year.

She added that a total of 17,506 new cases with 1,523 deaths were reported last year.

Dr Aziah added it was vital to raise the awareness, not only among those in the medical fields but everyone.

She told reporters at the World Tuberculosis Day celebrations, themed “I am Stopping TB”, at IPR here on Friday.

Federal Territory Health Department deputy director Dr Salehuddin Abu Bakar said the department had issued letters, reminding doctors to be aware of the spread of contagious diseases such as dengue and tuberculosis.

He said a person with a weak immune system faced a higher risk of infection.

The Malaysian Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis president Datuk Seri Yeop Jr Yeop Adlan said tuberculosis patients from rural areas could apply for a monthly allowance from them while receiving treatment.

He said successful candidate would be give a maximum allowance of RM400, up to six months - a standard period for the treatment. Visit for details.

IPR, located in Jalan Pahang, provides free treatment for tuberculosis patients for just a RM5 registration fee.

PRUDENTIAL = Mercedes-Benz

Excerpt from The Star 27th Mar 09
Friday March 27, 2009

Mercedes-Benz bullish on local car market despite economic woes

KUALA LUMPUR: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd is optimistic on the local car market, targeting to sell between 3,600 and 3,800 cars this year despite the global economic turmoil.

The company saw the signs of slowdown last year and hence was well prepared for the crisis, said sales and marketing (passenger cars) vice-president Florian Muller.

Last year, it sold 4,200 cars, Muller told Bernama yesterday at the preview of a RM100mil dress to be unveiled at the Mercedes-Benz STYLO Fashion Awards Gala here early next month.

“We will not see the figures achieved last year but so far, we have passed the first quarter without any negative sign. We are positive towards the coming second quarter.

“No doubt the current economic climate will make people think twice before making an investment as they prefer to have cash in hand,” he said.

The company had taken measures to ensure it did not overstock cars while maintaining the value and quality of the luxury brand, he added.

As a run-up to the 11th Malaysian F1, STYLO will be unveiling a RM100mil STYLO dress at the Mercedes-Benz STYLO Fashion Awards on April 3, the eve of the F1 Sepang qualifying round.

The dress, named “Nightingale of KL”, is a special commission to Jendela KL, a leading local fashion brand, and celebrity shoemaker Datuk Jimmy Choo.

The dress and its matching couture shoes will be put together with blinding rocks from world-renowned jeweller, Mouawad.

The long trail of the dress and shoes are expected to carry 750 diamonds weighing over 1,000 carats held together by its most important piece, a pear-shaped 70-carat diamond owned by the House of Mouawad.

Mouawad Malaysia managing director Antoine Bakhache said 5% from the sale of the dress would be donated to the Humanitarian Fund for Gaza, jointly initiated by STYLO and Raja Datuk Seri Azureen Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak. — Bernama

Interest Rates

Excerpt from The Star, 26th March 2009
Lower interest rates are expected to provide support for domestic demand

As one of the most open economies in the region, Malaysia is already affected by the worsening external environment.

With the risk of inflation abating considerably, the balance of risk has shifted from inflation to growth. Headline inflation decelerated to 3.9% in January 2009 from the peak of 8.5% in July 2008.

There are strong indications that this downtrend is likely to continue this year while wage demands will be muted.

As pre-emptive measures, the Monetary Policy Committee reduced the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points in November 2008, followed by further reductions of 75 and 50 basis points in January and February 2009 respectively to provide a more supportive monetary environment for the local economy.

Lower interest rates are expected to provide support for domestic demand through the availability of credit at cheaper costs and by increasing disposable income through lower debt servicing costs.

Reduced interest rates also increase the affordability of loans and the cost of capital.

The cuts in the OPR were accompanied by reductions in the Statutory Reserve Requirement and the floor on deposit rates. The reduction in deposit rates does not detract from the long-standing emphasis on ensuring a positive real rate of return to savers.

With inflation trending down, the real rate of return on 12-month deposits is expected to average above 0.5% this year.

Bank Negara announced the issuance of the Merdeka Savings Bond amounting to RM2bil as an additional savings instrument for Malaysian citizens aged 56 and above.

The Government has also announced the issuance of syariah-compliant Savings Bonds amounting to RM5bil for citizens above 21 years old. With a nominal return of 5% per annum, the real return on these bonds are expected to average above 3% in 2009.

Going forward, Bank Negara will continuously assess the appropriateness of the OPR and its monetary policy stance. As monetary policy works with a lag, the central bank has frontloaded the cumulative 150-basis point OPR reduction in view of the significant moderation in the prospects for growth and inflation.

In the next few months, Bank Negara will continuously assess whether all these measures are having their intended effects in sustaining domestic credit expansion and economic activity.

Globally, while central banks are easing monetary policy, governments are undertaking fiscal stimulus on a scale that is creating large fiscal deficits unseen in recent years and such complementarity of policies is necessary.

Monetary policy, as a demand management tool, has limits on the magnitude of reflation it can achieve in the current environment.

In addition to the RM7bil stimulus package, the Government has announced an additional stimulus package worth RM60bil to mitigate the adverse developments in the external sector.

The collective impact of monetary and fiscal policies should limit the effect of the global economic downturn on domestic economic activity and provide a firm base for the economy to return to its medium-term growth path once global economic and financial conditions normalise.

Jom Beli - On SALE!!!

Excerpt from The Star 14th March 2009

Saturday March 14, 2009

Medical insurance still affordable in Malaysia


JOSEPH Lee heaved a sigh of relief in between grimaces. His insurance company will cover all the medical expenses he will rack up due to a spinal slipped disc. For the past two weeks, he has been in a private hospital, suffering excruciating pain after various treatments have failed. Now he is scheduled for surgery.

His hospital bill has grown to a few thousand ringgit and there will be even larger charges for his upcoming surgery and post-operative care.

Lee is one of the more fortunate Malaysians who have medical insurance to lean on amid escalating medical and healthcare costs.

These costs have risen by an estimated 30% to 40% over the last three years, mainly due to the increase in the utilisation of medical services and advancements in medical technology.

Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd chief marketing officer Thomas Wong sees it as an uphill task to mitigate, let alone bring down, high medical costs, as this will need the collective effort of insurers, healthcare providers and the Government.

“Higher medical claims will definitely affect premiums in the long run because premiums are meant to be able to cover claims, and claims paid are meant to cover inflating medical costs.

“But any premium increase usually comes with an increase in benefits in the medical plan,” he says, adding that Prudential Assurance’s medical claim incidences have increased by around 20% annually for the past three years.

Most insurers, however, feel that medical insurance is still fairly affordable in Malaysia. ING Insurance Bhd president and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Nirmala Menon says this is because a medical insurance package will always offer the option of accessing care at public as well as private hospitals.

“Public hospitals are subsidised by the Government and therefore, medical costs are much lower at these hospitals, which also provide good medical treatment,” she adds.

For example, cash plans (which pays a fixed cash benefit for each day the customer is hospitalised) are typically cheap, ranging from RM40 per annum for RM100 daily cash benefit to RM200 per annum for RM400 daily cash benefit, depending on the age of the customer at the time of purchase.

Reimbursement plans, however, are relatively more expensive and depend on the age of the customer, which room the customer prefers to stay in during hospitalisation and the amount of claims he can make in a year should hospitalisation occur (annual limit).

A reimbursement plan covers the hospitalisation charges, consultation before hospitalisation and post-treatment after hospitalisation and may also include outpatient treatment such as day surgery, cancer treatment and kidney dialysis.

For example, premiums for Prudential’s PRUmajor med 5 can range from about RM505 per year for the cheapest room plan with an annual limit of RM50,000, to about RM5,000 per year for the most expensive room plan with a RM150,000 annual limit.

Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd’s Great MediCare offers medical coverage at an affordable premium ranging from RM500 to RM800 a year, depending on the age and plan selected.

Executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Loke Kah Meng says depending on the policyholder’s selected plan, medical expenses can be reimbursed in one lump sum up to an annual limit of RM200,000 and a lifetime limit of up to RM1.6mil.

According to General Insurance Association of Malaysia, medical expenses insurance generated close to RM485mil in gross premiums, which represented only about 5% of the general insurance market in 2007.

Executive director Lim Chia Fook says growth in the medical insurance sector has been very encouraging, averaging at least 15% over the last few years with expectations of continued strong growth going forward.

“This is indicative of the greater awareness among individuals, employers and corporations of medical insurance protection as an effective and affordable means of financing these costs,” he says.

Nevertheless, Lim says general insurers in Malaysia expect a difficult 2009 as the global economic slowdown takes its toll on premium growth in this sector, in particular.

“This view is balanced somewhat by the fact that many are now even more aware of the greater need for medical insurance in difficult financial times,” he adds.

Wong is still optimistic about the outlook for the medical insurance sector as only about 40% of the Malaysian population is insured as at 2007.

“The market certainly has plenty of room for growth. There are opportunities for insurance players to continue to introduce new products that not only meet consumers’ protection and savings needs, but are affordable as well,” he says.

To Wong of Prudential, comprehensive healthcare protection should ideally have a hospitalisation and surgical insurance plan, a critical illness plan and a disability income plan designed to cover one’s day-to-day expenses in the event one is unable to work due to an accident or illness.

“More importantly, review your medical insurance plans at least on an annual basis. With healthcare increases continuing to outpace the general inflation rate, chances are the plans that you have bought years ago are unlikely to be enough to meet future needs,” he stresses.

Insurance Growth

Excerpt from The Star 11 March 2009

Non-motor segment helps industry record growth


KUCHING: The strong performance of the non-motor sector has helped the country’s general insurance industry to record a 3.2% growth in gross direct premium to RM10.5bil last year.

The medical and health, and liabilities classes grew by 16.7% and 10.5% last year as compared with 2007, said Bank Negara insurance and takaful supervision department director Yap Lai Kuen. She said the personal accident class posted a 9.2% growth during the same period.

“Even though 2008 has been challenging, the insurance industry has maintained an overall high volume of business,” she said when opening the inaugural Sarawak insurance agency seminar yesterday.

However, Yap said the life insurance’s new business annual premium equivalent registered RM7.2bil last year, down from RM7.6bil in 2007. She said this was due largely to a decline in sales of investment-linked business.

“It is worthwhile to note that ordinary life recorded a strong growth of 18.6%, thus demonstrating the industry’s ability to adapt to a changing business environment,” she added.

Yap said Bank Negara had recently issued a concept paper - “Guidelines on the introduction of new products for insurance companies and takaful operators” - in which fair treatment of consumers was highlighted.

She said the paper stressed the need for insurance companies to put in place policies and procedures to ensure that customers were fully informed through appropriate disclosures of the key features, terms and conditions and risks associated with the product. The product must also be appropriate for the target group of consumers taking into consideration their broad needs and risk appetite, and compensation arrangements for sales staff and agents must not induce an excessive bias towards high revenue-generating products that they are likely to result in unsuitable product advise or sales to customers.

Yap said insurance companies must be seen to be actively involved in combating fraudulant practices and money laundering to boost their integrity and trustworthiness.

She said insurance agents had to keep up-to-date in terms of technical competency, maintain a high standard of ethical behaviour and provide customer-orientated services.

Financial Health Check

Excerpt from The Star, March 7th, 2009
Achieving financial freedom


A SINGLE mother of two school-going children from Johor Baru recently called up Whitman Independent Advisors Sdn Bhd for advise on how best to manage her personal finances in the light of the deteriorating economic environment.

She was told by one of the company’s staff that Whitman only caters to those who have RM2mil minimum worth of assets.

After much persuasion, she managed to speak to its managing director and told him her financial dilemma and thanked him for listening although he turned her down.

The managing director felt guilty and selfish for not imparting his knowledge on financial and wealth management which he has built up over the years, especially so in the current economic downturn.

Realising that there are lots of people out there facing a similar or worse predicament, he designed a guide for one to achieve his or her financial freedom, which he named the Roadmap to Financial Freedom. He then called the woman and offered her the service free of charge.
Yap Ming Hui, the managing director of Whitman narrates this experience over a cup of tea with the writer recently.

He charges a minimum fee of RM680 and this time, the customer does not need a minimum asset worth to qualify for the Roadmap to Financial Freedom service.
According to him, many people dream of financial freedom but very few have a roadmap to guide their aspirations.

Yap says his roadmap provides a comprehensive and holistic guide to achieve financial freedom.
Compared to the common financial check-up tests available in the market, he says this service is unique in that it allows a person to have a complete and detailed view of his or her financial status.

“Most people plan their personal money based on a specific financial goal like retirement goals, children tertiary education funding goal and others. When you only look at one specific goal at a time, you are only looking at a segment of your total financial picture.

“You will not be able to see how it will affect other financial goals. For example, when you only look at children’s tertiary education funding at a time, you will not know how it will affect your retirement planning.

“You can only tell how much you need to save or provide your children’s tertiary education but you will not know how your provision will affect your retirement funding,’’ Yap elaborates.

In reality, he says the more financial resources a person provides for his child’s tertiary education, the less financial resources he will have available for retirement.

Using a segmental approach does not reveal the real picture. By knowing how different financial goals affect each other, he says one is able to adjust each goal to reach the most optimum or comfortable point.

In a nut shell, what can the service do for you?
·Helps you to define how much wealth is enough for you.
·Tells you whether you will have enough financial resources to meet all your financial needs and wants.
·Makes you understand the relationship between different financial needs and wants.
·Allows you to find out the right code (combination) of the five essential elements of financial freedom like spending, inflation, return on investment, time and savings.
·Find out the adjustment you can make to reach an optimum point of financial management.
Once an optimum point is identified, one can have a few key performance indicators to keep them on track to financial freedom, such as how much exactly needs to be saved, how much can be spent, the right investments and so forth.

A clear plan such as this can even reveal at what age one’s wealth will last if a person continues to manage his money based on the current practice. That’s a good point to start to adjust and re-prioritise one’s financial goals.

A roadmap also allows one to become the master of his or her money and frees a person’s from money-related worries so better enjoy the really important things in life.

No one plans to fail but many fail to plan, Yap says.


Excerpt from The Star 4th March 2009

Wednesday March 4, 2009

Single mum needs your help

IPOH: A single mother is at her wits’ end trying to figure how to raise funds to treat her young son who was hit by a car in Sitiawan on Feb 21.

Ling Pik Syu, 29, said she lost her job as a kitchen helper in Singapore last month after returning to her hometown for a short break to care for her son, who was involved in an accident in Pekan Gurney in Sitiawan.

Mum’s love: Ling at the bedside of Yang Jeng at the Fatimah Hospital in Ipoh yesterday. With her (from left) are Perak MCA Public Complaints and Services Bureau deputy chief Kok Pak Foo, Alex Chan and Perak MCA Youth Public Complaints and Services Bureau chief Tony Khoo.

“I have to stay back to look after him. My former employer found a replacement and I don’t have any source of income now,” she said at the Fatimah Hospital where her son, Sioh Yang Jeng, 11, is recuperating from an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain.

Ling became the family’s sole breadwinner after her husband died in 2003. The mother of three said her son has been in hospital since the operation on Feb 22 and the bill had accumulated to RM80,000.

“I have borrowed RM50,000 from friends for the medical fees,” she said, adding that her son also suffered a broken leg in the accident.

She said the boy would need another operation next month to replace a piece of his skull that was removed.

Perak MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau chief Alex Chan, who visited Ling and her son at the hospital yesterday, said they needed to raise about RM100,000 to help pay off the mounting hospital expenses.

Donors can contact the bureau at 05-253-6981. Donations can also be made to the “Perak MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau” with Sioh’s name written on the back of the cheque and sent to the MCA headquarters at 90-92 Tingkat Satu, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh.