Lee Yuan Siong, AIA’s Group Chief Executive and President, said:
“AIA has reported strong VONB growth of 15 per cent for the nine months ended 30 September. We have maintained good momentum and delivered very strong VONB growth of 20 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Excluding Hong Kong, where sales to Mainland Chinese visitors remain extremely limited due to ongoing travel restrictions, the Group’s VONB exceeded the pre-pandemic level of the first nine months of 2019.
“In Mainland China, we are making good progress growing our Premier Agency in our new cities and I am delighted that AIA China has recently received regulatory approval to commence operations in Wuhan, Hubei. I am also encouraged by the early positive results from our new bancassurance partnership with The Bank of East Asia in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
“Across the Group, we are leveraging the power of technology, digital and analytics to enable the execution of our strategic priorities and further extend our competitive advantages. While the pandemic continues to disrupt some of our markets, AIA’s performance demonstrates the benefits of our diversification across Asia and the resilience of our business model that has been enhanced by technology.
“I am confident that we will remain focused on the execution of our growth strategy and deliver sustainable value for all of our stakeholders as we help millions more people live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives.”
SUMMARY FOR THE NINE MONTHS ENDED 30 SEPTEMBER 2021
In the first nine months of 2021, VONB of US$2,549 million for the Group increased by 15 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2020. We have maintained good momentum and delivered very strong VONB growth of 20 per cent on a like-for-like basis. VONB for the Group outside Hong Kong remained above the pre-pandemic level of 2019.
AIA China continued to be the largest contributor to the Group’s VONB and delivered double-digit VONB growth in the first nine months of 2021 on a like-for-like basis. Our differentiated Premier Agency model has generated significantly higher agent productivity compared to the first nine months of 2020. Average agent incomes have exceeded the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, supporting agent recruitment and retention. While traditional protection products remain the largest contributor to our VONB, we have achieved strong sales from our expanded suite of long-term savings products as we deepen our share of customer wallet. We continue to make good progress as we establish and grow our Premier Agency in new cities to AIA China. We also recently received approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Hubei Bureau to commence operations in Wuhan, Hubei.
Our business in Hong Kong reported very strong VONB growth, driven by an excellent performance from our domestic customer segment. Sales to Mainland Chinese visitors remained limited as a result of ongoing travel restrictions. Over the first nine months of 2021, our Premier Agency has delivered sequential VONB growth quarter by quarter. We also achieved strong growth in our bancassurance channel, supported by an encouraging start from our new partnership with The Bank of East Asia that commenced in early July.
Both AIA Singapore and AIA Malaysia delivered VONB growth for the first nine months of 2021. In the third quarter of 2021, tighter pandemic restrictions contributed to reduced VONB compared to the very strong performances from both businesses in the third quarter of 2020. Supported by increased adoption of digital tools, we have grown active agent numbers and productivity in our Premier Agency in both markets.
Excluding AIA Vietnam, VONB from Other Markets in the first nine months of 2021 was above the corresponding period in 2020 on a like-for-like basis. The more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 has had a significant effect on several markets within this reportable segment during the third quarter of 2021. Vietnam experienced unprecedented levels of infection and lockdowns compared to a largely unaffected third quarter in 2020. While significantly higher adoption of remote sales processes helped to mitigate the impacts of pandemic restrictions on sales activity, VONB from Other Markets was slightly lower in the first nine months of 2021 on a like-for-like basis.
AIA Thailand has delivered excellent VONB growth, driven by strong performances from both our agency and bancassurance channels. Our very strong growth momentum of the first half of 2021 has continued in the third quarter.
Overall, VONB margin for the first nine months of 2021 of 58.9 per cent increased 5.1 pps, driven by product mix shift, reduced acquisition expense overruns and higher government bond yields. The VONB margin is stated net of acquisition expense overruns, and the long-term investment return assumptions remain unchanged from those shown in our Annual Report 2020. Margin reported on a present value of new business premium (PVNBP) basis was 10 per cent, an increase from 9 per cent for the first nine months of 2020. ANP of US$4,309 million increased by 6 per cent and TWPI increased by 3 per cent to US$27,463 million over the same period.
Rising incomes, low levels of private insurance penetration and limited social welfare coverage continue to drive structural demand for AIA’s insurance products across Asia. Our substantial competitive advantages enable us to leverage this demand to generate sustainable long-term growth. While the global economy has recovered strongly in 2021, the ongoing effects of the pandemic have slowed the pace of growth in the third quarter. We continue to see disruption from pandemic restrictions and increased claims in some of our markets, particularly where vaccination levels are low. Despite near-term uncertainty, we are confident that the execution of our strategic priorities will build on our strong track record of growth and generate long-term shareholder value.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE VOLATILITY
AIA receives the vast majority of its premiums in local currencies and we closely match our local assets and liabilities to minimise the economic effects of foreign exchange movements. When reporting the Group’s consolidated figures, there is a currency translation effect as we report in US dollars. We have provided growth rates and commentaries on CER unless otherwise stated, since this provides a clearer picture of the underlying performance of the businesses.