Growing VisMin affluence attracts assets company

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014


SEEING the “growing affluence” of Cebu and the surrounding areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, Sun Life’s investment arm is increasing its efforts to promote its fund products to potential investors in the area.

Valerie Pama, Sun Life Asset Management Co., Inc. president, said their sales from the Visayas and Mindanao were the fastest growing in the company, with gross sales in the region up 121 percent in 2013 from the previous year.

There was also an increase in the company’s human resources in the area, which grew by 38 percent. Pama hopes this will improve SLAMCI’s presence in the region.

A segment they are also interested in tapping are those between the ages of 30 and 40, who are earning and interested in planning for their future.

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Though majority of their client base is still those with high net worth, they have seen growth from clients in their thirties and forties. Pama said this segment made up 20 percent of their growth last year. To better reach the younger set, they launched the Mutual Funds Online platform last November and are seeing more transactions being done using this channel.

She said there is much potential for this segment to grow, as penetration of mutual funds in the country is only three percent and most of this is concentrated in Metro Manila. “That’s a very big market, not just for our company, but for the whole industry.”

They hope to change the notion that investing is only for the rich, with products that require just P5,000 to start and P1,000 in subsequent payments. “If you can afford a smartphone and all these gadgets, you can invest,” Pama said.

Pama added that they want to educate the public on how to invest so they can avoid being duped into putting their money on scams and end up losing their hard-earned savings.

The company has 2,700 advisors working for them to help investors plan and choose the fund that is best suited for their needs.

It has also introduced promotions such as the Invest and Travel promo, which awards qualified investors with free trips abroad and around the country.

Michael Manuel, who heads the Asia investments of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, said each client has different stages and goals. While those who are younger are better suited to the equity markets, the older ones and those approaching retirement would better prefer bonds, which are less volatile.

Each investor, he said, needs to know the daily cash flow and needs to have a goal.

They also need to know how comfortable they are with investing.

Pama said that financial advisors come in handy in explaining the best way to invest, especially when one has other responsibilities that need attention.

With setbacks like disasters, peace and order problems and power interruptions that hit the country last year, Manuel noted that many are expecting a softer economy this year. However, he expects things to get even better.

He pointed out that the country’s consumption will continue to be supported by the weaker peso, which aids the business process management industry and families benefitting from remittances of overseas Filipino workers. High consumption, he said, will bring in high confidence, which, in turn, will lead to more investments.

He also expects the government to participate in the country’s growth because it is in a good place--it has a low budget deficit, low debt levels and has access to funds.

With a weaker currency, he added exports are in a position to do well and be competitive.

“It’s all in good shape at this point. The economy can come in with better numbers than what people expect,” he said.

Unlike before, when a weak currency was seen as a reflection of a weak economy, Manuel said this is no longer the case today because the country now had more dollar assets than debt. “The Philippine economy is much stronger.”

With Cebu home to an eighth of the country’s BPM employees and tourism picking up, Manuel said it will do just as well.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 06, 2014.

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