Participating products

A participating insurance plan is one in which we share a portion of the profits earned on it and related participating insurance plans with the policy owners. It is designed to be held long term. The premiums of a participating insurance plan will be invested in a variety of assets according to our investment strategy. The cost of policy benefits (including guaranteed and non-guaranteed benefits as specified in your plan that may be payable on death, surrender or the occurrence of certain events such as hospitalization or diagnosis of a critical illness, as well as charges we make to support policy guarantees (if applicable)) and expenses will be deducted as appropriate from premiums of the participating insurance plan or from the invested assets. We aim to ensure a fair sharing of profits between policy owners and shareholders, and among different groups of policy owners.
Divisible surplus refers to profits available for distribution back to policy owners as determined by us. The divisible surplus that will be shared with policy owners will be based on the profits earned from your plan and related groups of similar plans or similar group of policies (as determined by us from time to time by considering factors such as benefit features, policy currencies and period of policy issuance). Divisible surplus may be shared with the policy owners in the form of annual dividends, terminal dividends, reversionary bonuses and terminal bonuses (if applicable) as specified in your policy.
We review and determine the dividend and bonus amounts payable to policy owners at least once per year. Divisible surplus depends on the investment performance of the assets which we invest in and the amounts of benefits and expenses we need to pay for the plan. It is therefore inherently uncertain. Nevertheless, we aim to deliver relatively stable dividend and bonus payments over time through a smoothing process by spreading out the gains and losses over a period of time. The actual dividends and bonuses declared may be different from those illustrated or projected in any insurance plan information provided (e.g. benefit illustrations) depending on whether the divisible surplus, past experience and/or outlook are different from what we expected. If dividends or bonuses are different, this will be reflected in the policy anniversary statement.
A committee has been set up to provide independent advice on the determination of the dividend and bonus amounts to the Board of the Company. The committee is comprised of members from different control functions or departments within the organisation both at the AIA Group level as well as Hong Kong local level, such as office of the Chief Executive of the Company, legal, compliance, finance, investment and risk management. Each member of the committee will endeavour to exercise due care, diligence and skill in the performance of his or her duties as a member. The committee will utilise the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of each individual member to assist the Board in the discharge of its duty to make independent decisions and to manage the risk of conflict of interests, in order to ensure fair treatment between policy owners and shareholders, and among different groups of policy owners. The actual dividends and bonuses, which are recommended by the Appointed Actuary, will be decided upon the deliberation of the committee and finally approved by the Board of Directors of the Company, including one or more Independent Non-Executive Directors, and with written declaration by the Chairman of the Board, an Independent Non-Executive Director and the Appointed Actuary on the management of fair treatment between policy owners and shareholders.
To determine the dividends and bonuses of a participating policy, we consider both past experience and the future outlook of all factors including, but not limited to, the following:
Investment returns: include interest earnings, dividends and any changes in the market value of the backing assets, i.e. the assets in which we invest your premiums (the cost of policy benefits and expenses will be deducted from the investment). Depending on the asset allocation adopted for the insurance plan, investment returns could be affected by fluctuations in interest income (both interest earnings and the outlook for interest rates) and various market risks, including interest rate risk, credit spread and default risk, fluctuations in listed and private equity prices, real estate prices as well as foreign exchange currency if the currency of the backing assets is different from the policy currency, etc.
Claims: include claims for death benefits, critical illness benefits (if applicable) and any other insured benefits under the insurance plan.
Surrenders: include policy surrenders, partial surrenders and policy lapses; and their corresponding impact on the backing assets.
Expenses: include both expenses directly related to the policy (e.g. commission, underwriting, issue and premium collection expenses) and indirect expenses allocated to the insurance plan (e.g. general administrative costs).
Some participating insurance plans (if applicable) allow the policy owners to place their annual dividends, guaranteed and non-guaranteed cash payments, guaranteed and non-guaranteed incomes, guaranteed and non-guaranteed annuity payments, and/or bonus and terminal dividend lock-in accounts with us, potentially earning interest at a non-guaranteed interest rate. To determine such non-guaranteed interest rate, we consider the returns on the pool of assets in which these amounts are invested with reference to the past experience and future outlook. This pool of assets is segregated from other investments of the Company and may include bonds and other fixed income instruments.

Investment philosophy, objective and strategy

Our investment philosophy aims to deliver sustainable long-term returns in line with the insurance plan's investment objectives and the Company's business and financial objectives.
Our aforementioned objectives are to achieve the targeted long-term investment results while minimising volatility in investment returns to support the liabilities over time. They also aim to control and diversify risk exposures, maintain adequate liquidity and manage the assets with respect to the liabilities.
Our current long-term target strategy is to allocate assets attributed to our insurance plans into bonds, other fixed income instruments and/or growth assets. The bonds and other fixed income instruments predominantly include government and corporate bonds and are mainly invested in the United States and Asia-Pacific. Growth assets may include listed equity, equity mutual funds, physical real estate, real estate funds, private equity funds and private credit funds, and are mainly invested in the United States, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Growth assets generally have a higher long-term expected return than bonds and fixed income assets but may be more volatile in the short term. The range of target asset mix may be different for different participating insurance plans. Our investment strategy is to actively manage the investment portfolio i.e. adjust the asset mix in response to the external market conditions and the financial condition of the participating business. For example, there is a smaller proportion of growth assets when interest rates are low and a larger proportion of growth assets when interest rates are high. When interest rates are low, the proportion of growth assets may be even smaller than the long-term target strategy, so as to allow us to minimise volatility in investment returns and to protect our ability to pay the guaranteed benefits under the insurance plans, whereas the proportion of the growth assets may be even larger than the long-term target strategy when interest rates are high to allow for the possibility that we may share more investment opportunities in growth assets with the policy owners.
Subject to our investment objectives, we may use a material amount of derivatives to manage our investment risk exposure and for matching between assets and liabilities, for example, the effects of changes in interest rates may be moderated, while allowing for more flexibility in asset allocation.
Our currency strategy is to minimise currency mismatches. For bonds or other fixed income instruments, our current practice is to endeavour to currency-match bond purchases with the currency of the underlying policy (e.g. US Dollar assets will be used to back US Dollar insurance plans, HK Dollar assets will be used to back HK Dollar insurance plans and RMB assets will be used to back RMB insurance plans). Subject to market availability and opportunity, bonds may be invested in a currency other than the currency of the underlying policy and currency swaps may be used to minimise the currency risks. Growth assets may be invested in a currency other than the currency of the underlying policy and the selection is done according to our investment philosophy, investment objectives and mandate.
We will pool the investments from similar participating insurance plans to determine the return and we will allocate the return to specific participating insurance plans with reference to their target asset mix. Actual investments (e.g. geographical mix, currency mix) would depend on market opportunities at the time of purchase, hence may differ from the target asset mix.
The investment strategy is subject to change depending on the market conditions and economic outlook. Should there be any material changes in the investment strategy, we will inform policy owners of the changes, with underlying reasons and expected impact to the dividends and bonuses.