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Bancassurance remains core part of OCBC's business, says bank's CEO

BANCASSURANCE remains a core part of OCBC Bank's business and is much more than just an insurance operation, chief executive Samuel Tsien said at the bank's annual general meeting on Monday.

A shareholder had asked if the bank would consider outsourcing it to another partner as its local peers have done. OCBC currently has its own insurance arm, Great Eastern. 

Mr Tsien replied that the insurance business remains "part and parcel" of the bank's offering in various markets. 

Speaking to about 1,500 shareholders at the meeting, he said: "We also put a lot of emphasis into using data analytics to anticipate the insurance needs of our customers, something you cannot do if you're working with a third-party provider."

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Doing so has allowed the bank's sales agents and Bancassurance staff to be much more productive than "what (OCBC) understands the market to be", Mr Tsien added. "As a result, our penetration of the Bancassurance market has been very good compared to the competitors."

The insurance pillar also works with OCBC's other businesses, such as wealth management and corporate banking, said Mr Tsien. For example, the bank has been able to support corporate banking clients seeking long-term credit, using Great Eastern's funds as an independent channel. 

For its fourth quarter in 2018, OCBC posted an 11 per cent decline in net profit to S$926 million and said results were dragged down by a fall in earnings contribution from Great Eastern.