The following is a Q&A with Jiang Bo, an eight-year member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT). Conducted via e-mail and translated from the Chinese, the interview explores Jiang Bo’s practice, observations about the market in China and lessons learned that might benefit U.S. advisors.
LifeHealthPro: Please describe the focus of your practice. What insurance and financial services products and services do you offer? What is your target market?
Jiang: The insurance and financial products that I focus on are lifetime health insurance, lifetime hospitalization allowance, whole life insurance, long-term care payment, annuities, child education funds and long-term benefits. My target markets are business owners, white collar corporate entities and professionals.
LifeHealthPro: How well is your insurance and financial services practice doing? How do sales for your business this year compare with last year?
Jiang: I have steady annual growth, with a margin of 20-30 percent. This year sales were the same as previous years and also rose steadily, but, this year, my market has put more emphasis on lifetime hospitalization allowance, long-term care payments and retirement funds.
LifeHealthPro: How is your practice evolving? What new products or services are you offering or planning to offer? What factors or industry trends have prompted these changes?
Jiang: Since I participated in courses and established a sale builder group this year, year-to-date sales have gone smoothly. Following the large forecast increase in domestic worker benefits, I am currently preparing to add some social insurance offerings.
LifeHealthPro: What legislative, regulatory or competitive challenges are you facing in your practice? How are you addressing these challenges?
Jiang: My most intense competition comes from the bank insurance model (BIM), also known as Bancassurance, because they have a good understanding of customer cash situations. China funded insurance companies only compete with us for share in product development, design, after sales service and claims. U.S. companies still have a clear advantage. LifeHealthPro: What changes (in terms of products, industry regulations, the competitive landscape, etc.) would you like to see in the Chinese market that might help you be more successful?
Jiang: I would like to see an overall increase in industrial standards and more agent quality for domestic markets. Of course product development and design should be more flexible and expansive to allow customers more choices. We just rolled out one product this year, variable annuities, so clients over 60-70 years old can convert part of their large sum protection to part of an annuity withdrawal to be used as travel funds after retirement, as a supplement to retirement funds (one time or multiple withdrawals) or designate a younger beneficiary through a semi-trust method.
Any market needs healthy competition and the development of standards amidst competition. Competition pushes the market and strict supervision can make the competition healthy. Currently, we strictly implement professional conduct and have not felt any problems with competition. I hope that as the market improves, we will as well.
LifeHealthPro: What lessons have you learned in your own practice that might prove helpful to American life insurance agents and brokers be more successful in their practices?
Jiang: The most important lesson I have learned is that no matter good times or bad, it should be taken lightheartedly. Since an insurance sale is about an emotional transfer, too much pride or depression will impact the communication of ideas. Qualified life insurance agents rationally analyze emotional transactions and do not get carried away with success. When hard times come, they must hold their head up. Maintaining a calm and healthy demeanor is important.
Additionally, genuine sales begin after an agreement is signed. Service quality, timely follow-up and extra customer care is important. Often people feel that after an agreement is signed they should focus on developing new customers, but as I have learned with the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), “70 percent of your time should be spent on existing customers.” You must service existing customers while developing new markets.
The last thing is reasonable time delegation and effective workload management. Make plans ahead of time and under no circumstances have any kind of delay. Having the respect and trust of customers is a fundamental practice. With MDRT I have learned that being a good agent means you must, “See the people and love them.”