Shanghai is the Silicon Valley of Asia. That’s what AXA executives stressed recently.
I was in China’s most populous city just last month, attending the annual AXA Global Media Summit. As part of the event, we were taken on a guided tour of a branch of ICBC, the largest bank in the world. And you wouldn’t believe what I saw.
Within the spacious, sun-filled lobby there are several ATM-like machines where customers of the bank can, of course, take out money and make deposits. But what’s ingenious and innovative is they can also purchase a life insurance policy or an annuity — all within just a few minutes time, with no human interaction and no overly-complicated jargon.
But no one’s really buying these things through an ATM, right? Wrong. Chinese consumers are loving it. Asia represents 17 percent of the overall growth in AXA’s life division.
I guess that’s exactly how AXA predicted it would happen when the insurance giant joined forces with ICBC in mid-2012. Now, AXA is selling its insurance and retirement products to ICBC clients in the most populated country in the world with a society that, some might argue, is most in need of financial planning and retirement preparation. AXA’s lofty goal: reach 100 million customers by 2030. And I think they’re taking risks in all the right places to do just that.