Digital & Technology

Manulife Investment Management reinforces its Digital Prowess in Asia with New Senior Role

Manulife Investment Management has announced that Grace Ho, Chief Marketing Officer, Asia, has been appointed as Head of Direct Digital Business and Portfolios, Asia.

This is a newly created role which reflects the firm's commitment to expanding its digitally-enabled distribution capability to embrace the new normal: a new set of customer needs across investing and retirement, and new distribution models with intermediaries and direct digital platforms, Manulife Investment Management said in a press release.

Michael Dommermuth, Head of Wealth and Asset Management, Asia, Manulife Investment Management, said: “As we continue to invest in digitalisation, we see the need to revolutionise our structure and create a mission control that brings together strategic management of business propositions, portfolios of digital offerings, and alignment with technology across different markets in Asia. Our focus needs to be razor-sharp, emphasising prioritisation and a delivery road map against the highest valued business opportunities.”

In her new role, Ho will have business accountability for the direct digital business, and be responsible for integrating digital offerings such as Manulife iFUNDS and post log-in website experience into the firm's digital ecosystems across investment and pension platforms, with the objective of creating persistent business returns, says the firm. Ho will also become the product owner of Manulife iFUNDS, an award-winning digital platform that allows investors to manage their mutual fund portfolios, get access to market insights, and make fund transactions. Manulife iFUNDS is an important addition to Manulife's wealth offerings, allowing the firm to better serve customers' insurance savings, investment and retirement needs.

Grace Ho, Head of Direct Digital Business and Portfolios, Asia, Manulife Investment Management, said: “Covid-19 has changed the way our industry distributes wealth solutions, and we have the disruptive solution in Manulife iFUNDS to match the challenges. Our job is to fully leverage and build on Manulife iFUNDS, bringing a total wealth solution to our different markets in Asia.”

Another focus for this new role is the advancement of the range of digital solutions in supporting Manulife's captive distribution channel. “Alongside our customer experience focus, Manulife Investment Management's digital strategy has always pivoted on unleashing the power of digitally-enabled advisors for both investment and retirement customers. Digital solutions play a vital role in equipping our advisors with investment and market insights for the delivery of quality customer experience the way our customers want it,” explained Ho.

Manulife iFUNDS has been launched in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam since 2019. It enables both the customers and Manulife advisors in different ways. Customers can plan and make fund transactions on the Manulife iFUNDS platform, and advisors can have easy access to customers' portfolio information for them to provide timely service virtually yet with human touch.

“Currently, Manulife iFUNDS is deployed to serve more than 100,000 customer accounts and over 3,000 Manulife advisors across Asia. Adoption across markets has been encouraging. More than 70% of our accounts in Hong Kong are using Manulife iFUNDS, and in Malaysia, over 70% of our total transactions are handled through this digital solution since its launch in October 2020. We are introducing Manulife iFUNDS to the Singapore market to digitally enable advisors to provide better service to our investment-linked plan customers. Across the markets where Manulife iFUNDS is available, our target is to achieve 100% customer adoption in three years,” Ho continued.

Manulife Investment Management's digital deployment extends beyond retail mutual fund offerings. In 2020, the firm's digital channels for Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Funds (MPF) achieved an adoption rate of 74% and 66% for the Tax-deductible Voluntary Contributions and MPF Personal Account new applications.

“Under the pandemic, we have organised 75 regional webinars and virtual conferences in 2020 alone for our distribution channels and end investors, recording over 53,000 views. Social media was also leveraged for dissemination of market and investment insights, either directly reaching customers or allowing for advisors to engage their customers, with over 400 posts published and 22 million views garnered,” Ho concluded.