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Prudential eyes larger share of high net worth clientele

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Mr Elkovich (left) has three decades of wealth management experience while Mr Haavik (right) is a veteran in ultra HNW insurance advisory.

Singapore

PRUDENTIAL Singapore has set its sights on expanding its share of high net worth (HNW) clients, joining a growing number of insurers with similar ambitions.

It has designed Opus by Prudential - a HNW platform which aims to be advice- and service-led. Over the 10 months since Opus' launch last year, its HNW client base - defined as those with sum insured of at least S$5 million and personal net worth of at least S$10 million - has grown by 10 per cent.

Elsewhere in the market, AXA last year launched the AXA Imperial Collection - a suite of legacy, wealth, lifestyle and global medical solutions for the wealthy.

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Manulife is also understood to be keen to expand in this segment; it currently has a universal life product.

Credit Suisse estimates that Singapore has 184,000 millionaires, and this is set to increase to 240,000 by 2023.

John Elkovich, Prudential's head of HNW solutions, said: "The high net worth space is an opportunity that we hadn't really tapped. Many high net worth clients are under-insured; we're looking into how we can close the gap. Only 19 per cent have a wealth transfer plan for their assets."

Mr Elkovich, who has three decades of wealth management experience, joined Prudential in November 2017 as HNW segment head.

The firm has also roped in Odd Haavik, a veteran in ultra HNW insurance advisory. Mr Haavik, who was a founding director of Charles Monat Associates, joined Prudential in 2017 as head of HNW strategy and transformation. He is currently chief distribution officer.

The Opus platform is serviced by 65 private wealth consultants and two wealth planners. The consultants were drawn from Prudential's agency force, which numbers around 5,000. Every Opus client will have a dedicated underwriter, case manager, and policy and claims servicing team. The firm aims to double the number of wealth advisers by the end of the year.

Opus aims to offer comprehensive advice on wealth planning and transfer, among other things. Where specialised expertise is needed in areas such as trusts, tax and business advisory, it has partnered a number of specialist firms including Rajah and Tann, Colin Ng & Partners and Deloitte Singapore.

Focus groups were held to ascertain the gaps in the HNW market. Said Mr Elkovich: "First was wealth transfer. Clients own assets in multiple jurisdictions, and there may be tax consequences on the transfer of assets at death." Other major needs include asset and business protection, and international health care.

He said that advice is a "core differentiator", which means that a discussion should start with clients' needs rather than products. "We've always had high net worth clients, but you could say it was generic across client segments. Now we really want to build on the segment, and have a differentiated brand and client proposition."

In wealth planning, insurance may be used to provide liquidity in the event of death, or for estate equalisation and wealth transfer. Companies also need insurance to ensure business continuity should the key person die. While universal life plans are a staple in the high net worth space, plain vanilla term protection and whole life policies are also used. Prudential itself does not have a universal life product, but will obtain it from the market on behalf of clients as needed.

Mr Haavik said that the ambition is to position Prudential as the go-to adviser for HNW clients. He added that the feedback since Opus launched last October has been good. "Enthusiastic is an understatement. No one thought an insurer would go to the extent of branding and have conversations that go beyond product."