Mark came to Vietnam at a time when local enterprises including insurance firms are mired in difficulties.

According to the Ministry of Finance, total premiums of the life insurance segment in January-September only marked up 11.7% year-on-year. The number of new contracts of the whole life insurance market only grew 9.8% in the same period, showing a growth rate much lower than that in recent years, the ministry said.

The unusual change was far different from what local life insurance companies had planned a year ago. However, Tucker is still upbeat about the market’s potential.

“I believe the economy has its own growth cycle and as I have witnessed such movements over the past 25 years, I can foresee future opportunities in the next 20 years,” he said.

Vietnam can’t avoid the economic downturn from western nations but the insurance sector is medium- and long-term business activities, so what happens within one month or one year is not so important, he noted.

AIA has been present in Asia for 92 years and it has experienced many different development cycles of the market, Tucker stated. He said he didn’t believe in short-term growth, explaining AIA still focuses on developing its customer base, products, distribution network and financial capability to ensure sustainable business in the next 10-20 years.

“As both an individual and a senior executive of a company, I always find great passion for the Vietnamese market and I feel the best things have yet to come to Vietnam,” Mark confided. He advised local industry insiders to overcome difficulties to seize opportunities in the current context, adding the Vietnamese life insurance market in particular and the Asian life insurance market in general have yet to meet rising demand.

He said his company is trying to establish professional services at sale agents and consolidate the quality of services targeting customers in Vietnam.

AIA has been active in Vietnam since February, 2000. The group now has more than 500 staff members and over 18,000 sales agents managing and serving customers of over 310,000 life insurance contracts nationwide.

By Hong Phuc - The Saigon Times Daily - November 22, 2012