Where Are We Going?

Excerpt from The Star 27th April 2009

Change comes to local financial services industry

PETALING JAYA: The local financial services industry will be undergoing several changes over the next few years to enhance its role as an enabler and catalyst for growth as well as to strengthen the local economy’s linkages with other economies.

These changes would include the issuance of up to nine new financial licenses, increasing foreign shareholding in non-commercial banks and allowing locally-incorporated foreign commercial banks to have better access to underserved sectors of the economy.

The changes in the financial services industry followed the announcement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week of the waiver of the 30% bumiputera equity stake in 27 subsectors of the services sector.

Bank Negara said in a statement released on Monday that “the liberalisation plan aims to pursue opportunities that will bring net benefits and contribute to the development of the Malaysian financial sector and the economy as a whole while ensuring that overall financial stability and soundness is preserved.”

The central bank added that the plan would be supplemented with sufficient safeguards to ensure that the overall financial intermediation function of the financial system remained intact, effective and sound.

Meanwhile the AP reported:

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia announced Monday it will let foreigners hold a majority stake in insurance companies and investment banks, while five more foreign banks will be allowed to operate by 2011 in major steps toward financial liberalization.

Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters he is raising the foreign ownership cap in insurance companies and investment banks _ known as noncommercial banks - from 49 percent at present to 70 percent.

"These liberalization measures are in line with the government's initiatives to promote structural change within the economy and diversify sources of growth to further drive economic expansion," said Najib, who is also the finance minister.

"In enhancing our international linkages and taking the financial sector to a new level of performance it will contribute to our overall economy," he said.

Najib said the government will issue licenses to five new foreign commercial banks, which are the traditional lenders serving the public, by 2011.

Currently, there are 13 locally incorporated commercial banks, including Citibank, Standard Chartered and HSBC. Although they are fully owned by foreign entities, they are restricted in their operations and can only run a certain number of branches.

Still, the foreign banks control 25 percent of the domestic banking market.

The foreign banks are also not allowed to own more than 30 percent of domestic commercial banks.

Najib said this rule will remain unchanged to allow the local financial services sector to flourish.

He said the government will issue six new licenses to foreign financial bodies in 2009 and three in 2011.

Of the six licenses, two will be given to foreign Islamic banks with a paid up capital of at least $1 billion, two to foreign commercial banks with specialized expertise and two to Islamic family insurance companies.

In 2011, up to three licenses will be issued to world class foreign commercial banks, he said.

"Our liberalization is a sequence-managed and gradual process," said central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said.

The financial services sector contributed 11 percent to Malaysia's gross domestic product last year, and employs more than 140,000 workers.

Monday's announcement came less than a week after Najib scrapped a 30 percent requirement for ethnic Malay ownership of investments in some service sectors in a bid to boost the country's flagging economy.

Malaysia's exports have been hit by the meltdown in global demand and the government says the economy will shrink 1 percent this year in its worst case scenario. - AP

Q1 Recruitment Result

Message from Kevin Wright, Deputy Chief Executive, Insurance, PCA

Dear Wealth Managers/Planners and Quality Leaders/Agents,

The development and success of our agency force is central to the growth
of our company which is why recruitment has always been a top priority for
us. With that in mind, year 2009 has been designated as the year of

I am pleased to share with you our recruitment result for Q1 of this year
has been most encouraging. Unlike most other industries which have been on
the decline, the number of applications we received in Q1 has increased by
almost 50% in comparison with the same period last year. On top of that,
the number of new recruits joining us in Q1 has also grew by 600,
representing a 21% increase from last's year number. This shows that more
and more people are considering insurance as a viable career option and
with the continuous growth and impressive result delivered by our Company
backed by our solid financial strength, people are convinced about the
ability of Prudential in securing their future.

Hence, there's no better time for recruitment than now. Take the
opportunity to talk to people and help them explore the beauty of the
business and what they can expect by joining Prudential. Remember our
recruitment target for Q2 is 1500 and our APE is RM200 million. When our
company is infused with more fresh new bloods, our target inevitably
becomes a lot easier to attain.

Here's wishing you a great start to the week!

Best Wishes

Kevin Wright
Deputy Chief Executive-Insurance
Prudential Corporation Asia

Recruitment Opportunity

Excerpt from The Star 17th April, 2009
Minister: 31,161 workers out of jobs so far

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 31,161 workers have been retrenched or laid off through voluntary separation schemes (VSS) between Oct 1 and April 15 this year, says the Human Resource Ministry.

Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said 16,288 local and 7,164 foreign workers had been retrenched during the period while 6,921 local and 788 foreign workers had been laid off through VSS.

“The retrenchment was anticipated across all occupational categories including managerial, professional, technician, clerical, machine operators and plant assemblers during the economic crisis,” he said.

Subramaniam said this in his speech delivered by his deputy Senator Datuk Maznah Mazlan at the MIM CEO Forum 2009 and MIM-Public Bank Manager of the Year 2008 award presentation ceremony.

Meanwhile, 300,000 foreign workers’ contracts had ended in the last six months and their permits were not renewed by the ministry, he added.

Subramaniam said the ministry had initiated three training programmes for employers and workers – Train and Place; Train and Replace; as well as Train and Retain.

“The Labour Department is actively validating job vacancies and facilitating job matching and placement for retrenched workers,” he said.

He said the ministry had also set up 80 operation rooms nationwide to monitor the retrenchment trend daily and to assist retrenched workers by conducting a job placement drive.

“The ministry, under the stimulus economic package, has been allocated RM650mil to implement various programmes to help stimulate the economy, improve Government delivery system and prepare Malaysian workforce with the necessary skills,” he said.

CEOs Resigning

Reports says that life insurance business is in a decline growth. But that is untrue based on our (Prudential) performance last year which recorded a 9% increase in New Business Premium. Regarding the RBC, we are in strong position as it was implemented few years back in our company.
While others are still walking, let us RUN.... Lets together achieve our dream!
Excerpt from The Star, 3rd April 2009.
Friday April 3, 2009

Insurance CEOs resigning

Departure of 3 captains in less than 10 days could be a start to an exodus

PETALING JAYA: In less than 10 days, three insurance CEOs have resigned and more resignations and movements in the insurance industry are expected in the coming months.

According to sources, the three who resigned are Cliff Lee of Tahan Insurance Malaysia Bhd (who also resigned as chairman of the General Insurance Association of Malaysia or Piam), AXA Affin Life Assurance’s Vincent Kwo and Uni.Asia General Insurance Bhd’s Mohd Fauzi Yaakub.

Piam, in response to a StarBiz query, said Oriental Capital Insurance Bhd CEO Mohd Yusof Idris was appointed chairman of the association on Wednesday to succeed Lee whose resignation was effective the same day. Yusof was previously deputy chairman.

At this stage, their reasons for leaving the companies were still unclear and no successors had been identified, a source said.

The insurance industry has not been spared the impact of the global financial crisis. While the general insurance industry grew in 2008, in terms of gross written premiums, it is expected to be impacted this year.

Gross premiums for the industry (general) grew 8.37% to RM11.32bil in 2008 compared with RM10.45bil in 2007. New business premiums for life insurance experienced a negative growth of 6.2% last year to RM7.13bil from RM7.6bil in 2007.

According to sources, the insurance industry is also heading for consolidation in line with the risk-based capital framework, which came into effect in January.

A source said the spate of departures among CEOs could be due to them going for stronger capitalised companies and better remuneration.

Lee, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the insurance industry, was appointed Tahan Insurance CEO in January 2007. He was previously CEO and managing director of Ace Synergy Insurance Bhd.

At present, managing director Preim Singh is overseeing Tahan’s daily operations. Piam declined comment on Lee’s resignation as its chairman.

Idaman Unggul, the parent of Tahan, is in the midst of selling its entire stake in Tahan’s general insurance business, after hiving off its life business to AXA Affin Life a few years ago.

Kwo’s resignation came as a surprise to many as his close colleagues were unaware of his departure, sources added. He was appointed AXA Affin Life CEO when the company came into existence.

Kwo’s more than 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry include stints in various South-East Asian countries, in positions such as chief financial officer and CEO in a number of multinational insurers. Fauzi, who resigned last week, was appointed Uni.Asia General Insurance CEO last December. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer.