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Partnership Tour - Interview with Adrian Leung - FWD Head of Business Development

Partnership Tour - Interview with Adrian Leung

April 12th, 2018 | Hong Kong. Our second interview of the “Partnership Tour” continues with pan-Asian insurer FWD’s Hong Kong Head of Business Development, Adrian Leung. It was an opportunity to discuss some of the key features of FWD Hong Kong’s partnership model, such as:

  • The origination model for partnerships to be decided
  • The long-term relationship model to set up with large and start-up partners
  • A focus on FWD’s partnership with Tap & Go in Hong Kong

1] Sia Partners (S.P.): Can you share your background and responsibilities at FWD?

Adrian Leung (A.L.): Prior to joining FWD, I worked, among others, for an international market research company and for a telecom company, both on the consumer side. I finally moved to the insurance industry on the corporate side.

I joined FWD more than three years ago, as Head of Business Development. Since we have well-established channels such as brokers, agents and bancassurance, my role is to develop our distribution network through new partnerships.

2] (S.P.): How do you identify your potential partners?

(A.L.): Our approach is to use the customer journey as a starting point, with a view to increasing our presence in customers’ daily lives:

  • How well potential customers know FWD?
  • How do they perceive our business?
  • What are their hurdles when they buy insurance?

As a matter of fact, the number of service centres that FWD can open is limited by both advertising costs (customer cluster targeting, etc.) and physical infrastructure. To overcome these challenges, we started to reach outside our usual distribution network, through, for example, a collaboration with 7-Eleven launched two years ago. Our first project together was selling prepaid travel insurance cards. Customers could log on to our website and easily redeem their travel insurance policy. FWD provides the products, 7-Eleven advised on the implementation roadmap. Ultimately this turned into a large-scale partnership via their network with over 900 outlets!

3] (S.P.): Are you only focusing on partnerships with players benefiting from a wide physical footprint?

(A.L.): Our internal watch list is designed to identify potential partners of different scales and at different development stages which include start-ups, such as the Club and Agoda back then when they were quite new in market. Building partnerships at an early stage of companies’ development allows us to jointly grow with our partners.

4] (S.P.): How do you work with such a variety of partners?

(A.L.): Building a collaboration with large companies like 7-Eleven requires more preparation time since they usually have relatively more established procedures, IT prerequisites and business operation infrastructures in place.

First, we invest in understanding respective long-term strategic orientations and exchanging on our business models. Once expectations on both sides are aligned, our roadmap includes deploying test approaches. The mind-set to adopt is to be open and willing to listen to each other during this development phase.

Subsequently, we switch our modus operandi to an iterative process, constantly adapting and tweaking our business and executive plans, based on customers and operations feedback.

On the other hand, dealing with start-up companies presents different challenges. This type of organisations, while being more flexible, would expect deeper personal involvement and stronger data resources and with a lower level of risk tolerance.

5] (S.P.): How do you measure the success or the failure of a partnership?

(A.L.): In order to qualify a partnership as “successful”, three parties need to win: the customers, your partner, and yourself. The most important part is the customer satisfaction.

More generally, we use several methodologies to get a sense of how our customers feel, such as:

  • Online feedback;
  • Feedback calls for the customer service department;
  • Retail feedback (both frontline staff and customers).

A simple story to illustrate: when we started to sell travel insurance cards through 7-Eleven, we found customers could not easily redeem their insurance policies, i.e. the customer journey had not been optimised, as they could only redeem the insurance from a second screen on our travel insurance page. The teams then improved the customer experience by re-designing the user interface, and customers can now key in promotional code on the first screen to redeem the travel insurance.

6] (S.P.): Let’s take the example of Tap & Go to understand better your approach. Could you share the background of this partnership?

(A.L.): Our journey started with a simple statement: most life insurance policies allow the insured to withdraw cash, however most customers don’t. Two root causes have been identified, the lack of customer awareness, and a time-consuming process. In this area, our collaboration with Tap & Go offers a whole new Customer Experience:

FWD and Tap & Go, creating an effective customer experience


FWD became the first insurance company to address the pain point by offering its customers to use a simple digital wallet to withdraw cash value from selected products.

7] (S.P.): What does this partnership bring to FWD Insurance?


We extend our value proposition.

Our customers are now offered an alternative and convenient way to utilise their insurance policies. In this line, we have a partnership with HKT “The Club”, where members can choose how they use their club points, for instance in buying travel insurance.

We gain in visibility.

Our peers have granted us with two awards for this partnership:

  • The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers as an “outstanding online platform”;
  • The Shenzhen Hong Kong FinTech Award, organised by the HK Monetary Authority and the Office of Financial Development Service of Shenzhen (OFDS), where we are the only insurance company shortlisted.

We obtain unexpected results in KYC/CDD1

Our initial assumption was that our operation teams would require quite some time to accept this disruptive idea of instant cash withdrawal from insurance policies, however, we got an immediate buy-in as it resolved most of the CDD/KYC data requirements. Indeed, we were due to verify the identity of any person purchasing life insurance or retrieving cash, which translates into time-consuming checks.

Our first win has been on the design of the authentication process. We basically leveraged one’s daily habit, which is to show their identification document (ID) when asked for identity verification. We took reference and built this in for Tap & Go and FWD, where the same ID is required for both accounts.

Second, to verify the transaction we collect customer information to screen for economic villain, anti-money laundering lawbreaker, etc. and examine source of fund.

Customer due diligence, from a manual process to digital automation

(S.P.): Thank you Adrian for these insights, and we hope Tap & Go will succeed in Hong Kong!

1Know Your Customer / Customer Due Diligence

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