STRATEGIC human resource development (HRD) initiatives will set the impetus for Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd to chart its next stage of growth, its chief executive officer Ng Keng Hooi said.
Our target is to become the insurer of choice and our people will be the driving force towards meeting this goal, he told StarBiz in an interview.
Our people are our greatest asset. Essentially, our operating culture gives opportunity to our staff and agency force to excel in everything they do. In the process, we are also able to create more leaders who can assume more senior positions within the organisation.
Ng said the underlining factors for the company's impressive growth were its professional and trained agency force, experienced and dynamic management team, and a penchant for innovative product development and marketing.
The company, a part of Prudential plc of Britain, has more than 600 workers and a 6,000-strong agency force.
Chief human resources officer Paul Gerard Lim said Prudential also aimed to be the employer of choice and had set out to attract the right talents.
It had in the last 12 months, recruited over 100 graduates, including 13 bio-medical students, to join its underwriting team, seven for information technology, four for actuarial and two for finance. Its staff strength is expected to increase to 760 by the year-end.
On the agency side, Ng said more than 2,000 new life agents were recruited last year. More than half were either graduates or diploma holders.
Under its management development programme, local talents have also been groomed to take up regional positions.
Ng said one such person was Tan Kar Hor, 41, who joined Prudential Malaysia as manager in 1990 and is today the general manager for Prudential in Guangzhou, China.
Besides the focus on upgrading the skills of its employees, productivity of its agency force had also shown a remarkable improvement by 20% and that of agency managers by almost 50% last year.
Last year, the company recorded more than RM333mil worth of new business annual premium income, a 42% growth against the previous year.
As at Dec 31 last year, 106 agents produced more than RM1mil in new business, bringing the total number of Million Dollar Round Table qualifiers to 137.
Our agents' high productivity can be attributed to our agency development programmes including Agency Change towards Excellence (ACE) a strategy initiated several years ago to create and develop the best agency force in Asia.
It has enabled us to build strong agency leaders, and helped them develop high-quality, professional and productive agents, Ng said.
Another programme was the Awareness Before Change aimed at creating awareness of an agent's potential and capacity to create changes for more effective performance and quality results.
Training programmes were also available under PRUuniversity - an enterprise-based virtual university hosted by Prudential Corp Asia and available to all staff and agents who were encouraged to develop their skills, knowledge and experience, Ng said.
The diploma courses available include basic management, administrative management and agency management.
Other agency development programmes are on Essentials of Management Development Programme, One-Card system and Client-builder system, which combined with mentoring provided by highly successful agency leaders, have proven to be effective in fast-tracking new agents on the road to success, Ng added.