Following an Australian investment last year, Sony Life Insurance plans to open dozens of locations in Singapore where people can shop for policies from multiple insurers, making a new move to expand its overseas business.
Over the next 10 years, the Sony Financial Holdings unit aims to open nearly 50 agencies here, starting as soon as next summer.
The insurer will partner with Tokyo- based Starts Securities next month on a joint venture to oversee the new business. Sony Life will own 74% of the venture whilst Starts Securities, which has a track record in insurance sales in Japan, will hold the remaining 26%.
The agencies will sell mainly life insurance policies, which are relatively rare here for a mature economy like Singapore's. Savings-oriented policies account for a big share of the local market, which has few agencies where customers can choose policies that suit them from various insurers.
Sony Life will take the same consultation-based approach to sales that it does in Japan. The agencies will sell other insurers' policies at first, but Sony Life aims to eventually offer its own products as well.
Sony Life’s intentions are to make the new business profitable in five years’ time and to recoup accumulated losses by the ninth year. The plan is to open several locations each year including shopping centres.
The Japanese insurer entered the Philippines in the 1990s, only to pull out in 2012 after disappointing earnings. With this in mind, it is focusing its new overseas push on developed markets.