Ceylinco Life promotes Retirement Planning in new initiative

Life Insurance Leader Ceylinco Life has adopted a new cause -- retirement planning -- in a month-long activity-filled campaign similar to its successful Life Insurance Week initiative in February. Here, the company’s Chief Executive Director R. Renganathan elaborates on this new effort

Q: Ceylinco Life recently announced plans to conduct a Retirement Planning Month in Sri Lanka. What prompted this decision?
It is a well-known fact that Sri Lanka’s population is ageing. What is meant by this is that the percentage of older people in the population is increasing. This is the result of better healthcare and improved living conditions as well as the success of birth control programmes. The overall rate of growth of the population has slowed, so naturally, older people begin to make up a larger segment of the population. This is a natural phenomenon, but one that Sri Lanka is not well geared to face. The vast majority of people are employed in the private sector and the informal sector, where there is virtually no safety net for them after retirement. Sri Lanka does not have a comprehensive state-run programme to care for elders either. This makes it imperative that people should start saving for their retirement while they are gainfully employed. The Retirement Planning Month is intended to create awareness about this aspect and to promote retirement planning in the target market.

Q: Why is a life insurance company promoting retirement planning?
Life insurance and retirement planning are closely linked, and most life insurance companies develop investment products that provide for retirement. In both life insurance and retirement planning, the principal concept is making provision for the future of oneself and one’s family. In life insurance, a policyholder seeks to ensure that his or her family would be provided for in the event of an untimely death or disability. When the policy matures, the policyholder receives a lump sum which comes in usually close to his or her retirement age. Similarly, a retirement plan is one that enables a person to start saving, with the assistance of a professional financial services company, for a future when he or she will cease to earn, or have a diminished earning capacity.

Q: Why have you selected the mechanism of a Retirement Planning Month to promote retirement planning?
The idea came from the success of our Life Insurance Week which was conducted in February this year. Life insurance has been in Sri Lanka for several decades and is a very competitive area of business. Despite this, the penetration of life insurance is still under 10 per cent. In the past and even now, each insurance company promotes its own products, using their respective features, and the stability and strength of their companies to persuade potential customers to buy life insurance. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but one result of it is that life insurance remains a seller’s market. There is inadequate understanding about the need for life insurance. Buying decisions are made based on product features. This makes insurance just another product, which it is not. It is an essential safety net against an uncertain future, and if this is understood, we believe that penetration will increase and the category will grow.

When we evaluated the results of the activities conducted during the Life Insurance Week, we were pleased to see that our decision to go back to fundamentals and promote life insurance in its generic form had yielded very impressive results. Therefore, it was decided to apply the learning of this initiative to promote retirement planning in a similar way.

Q: Do you think the potential for retirement planning is as high as the potential for life insurance?
I don’t see why not. In life insurance, the policyholder has to contemplate the possibility of an unforeseen eventuality in which he or she will not be able to provide for family and loved ones. Thankfully, this is the exception and not the rule. But we all know that we cannot stop ageing and that one day, each of us has to retire. The need to plan for this stage of our lives is obvious.

The size of the target segment is also very large. Do you know that by 2031, just 23 years from now, 22 per cent of this country’s population would be over 60 years old? We don’t even need to go that far. By 2021, that is in another 13 years, there will be more than four million people aged over 60 in Sri Lanka. Clearly, it is time that people who will be in this segment start planning their retirement now, before it is too late. So, the need for retirement planning is very real and urgent, and the target audience is very large.

Q: What does the Retirement Planning Month comprise of?
The activities planned for the moth will take place from May 1st to 31st. We have already started the mass media campaigns focusing on the need for retirement planning, targeting our existing policyholders as well as all working people in general. During the month, nearly 4000 Ceylinco Life personnel will be deployed island-wide to discuss retirement planning with people of all walks of life. We have developed a new module to conduct need analyses for retirement planning and we have set ourselves the target of completing 400,000 need analyses during the month. We will also distribute leaflets that will help people understand retirement planning and the need for it, conduct street promotions and give every person who obtains a retirement plan in this period an attractive gift. This programme will be supported by outdoor banners, pennants and interactions at branch level, across the island.


New General Manager at People’s Bank

M. Wickramasinghe took over his duties as the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager of People’s Bank at a ceremony held recently at the People’s Bank Headquarters. W. Karunajeewa, Chairman of People’s Bank welcomed the new CEO. Multi-religious ceremonies were conducted on the occasion, with the Corporate Management and staff taking part in them, welcoming the newly-appointed CEO.

Wickramasinghe, who counts 35 years of experience at People’s Bank, was awarded a Gold Medal in 1968, as the Best Student during his school career at Nalanda Vidyalaya, Colombo. He holds a B.A. (Hons.) degree as well as a B.Phil. degree, from the University of Colombo. He is also a holder of a Merit Pass at the Management Development Programme conducted by the University of Sri Jayawardenapura.

Rising from the ranks at the Bank, from Branch Manager and Senior Manager at the International Division to the post of Senior DGM – Branch Operations, Wickramasinghe has wide ranging experiences in the fields of inspection, organisation and methods, finance, planning and treasury, and development finance. Furthermore, he initiated the establishment of the Overseas Customer Services (OCS) Unit of People’s Bank, which was also the first division of the Bank to be fully computerised. Wickramasinghe is an Alternate Director of the Governing Board of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka, and a Director of the Board of Lanka Clear (Pvt) Ltd.


New director at HNB Assurance

HNB Assurance PLC has appointed Prathapkumar de Silva, Senior Chairman of the Alliance Group of Companies, as a Director of the Company, with effect from March 31st , 2008. He would function as an independent non-executive director.

De Silva is Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Alliance Finance PLC, in addition to serving as Chairman of Arpico Finance PLC, Alliance Tech Trading (Pvt) Ltd and several other companies. He is also a Director of a number of companies, including Virtusa (Pvt) Ltd, Software Solutions (Pvt) Ltd, Macbertan (Pvt) Ltd and Orient Hotels Ltd. De Silva represents the Finance Companies on the Board of the Credit Information Bureau of Sri Lanka. He is also the President of the Sri Lanka Institute of Credit Management, an Executive Director of the Finance Houses Consortium (Pvt) Ltd. and Advisory Councillor to the Committee of the Finance Houses Association of Sri Lanka.

Prathapkumar de Silva who currently serves as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Peru in Sri Lanka, has also been a renowned motor racing driver, with many achievements to his credit, in that field.


Standard Chartered Bank partners Trans Asia to offer best deals

Standard Chartered Bank Sri Lanka has partnered with Trans Asia Colombo for an exclusive sponsorship of the ‘Citron Bar’ and a host of other rewards and privileges that will benefit their Credit Card customers.

Amongst many other benefits, Standard Chartered Cardholders will enjoy a 15% discount on their total beverage bill at the ‘Citron Bar’ at the Trans Asia up to January 31, 2009. The ‘Citron Bar’ is the only outdoor Vodka Bar in Sri Lanka. This is yet another key partnership made by Standard Chartered Bank in its commitment to offer its exclusive customers the most exclusive deals.

Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar, Head of Consumer Banking, Standard Chartered Bank, Sheahan Arasaratnam, Head of Credit Cards, Standard Chartered Bank, Neroy Marso, General Manager Trans Asia were joined by Augustus de Hoedt, the Hotel’s Director Catering as they endorsed the partnership.

Trans Asia is also one of the partners of the Standard Chartered Bonus Points programme. Cardholders can opt to redeem the Bonus Points earned through their Standard Chartered Credit Card at the Royal Thai Restaurant, Saffron Restaurant, Long Feng Restaurant and Summerfields Restaurant at Trans Asia.

“We have joined together with Trans Asia for various promotions, all of which will make spending with a Standard Chartered Credit Card a more rewarding experience to Cardholders” commented Sheahan Arasaratnam, Head of Credit Cards for Standard Chartered Bank.

“It is indeed a privilege to partner with Standard Chartered Bank, and trust this benefit will definitely be enjoyed to the fullest by the Cardholders commented Marso.

Standard Chartered Bank also offers it’s Credit Cardholders True Value Bonus Points, which give customers the privilege of earning one full rupee for every Rs100 spent on purchases both locally and overseas. Accumulated Bonus Points can be redeemed at a range of participating outlets including ODEL, Hameedias, Mondi, Arpico, The Mango Tree, Angsana City Club and Spa, Sanctuary Spa, Vijitha Yapa Book Shop to name a few. Other key value added services offered to Standard Chartered Credit Cardholders include the 0% Instant Installment Plans, Phone Banking services; enabling customers to pay their utility bills such as water, electricity and mobile phone bills free of charge, a range of insurance benefits and much more. In order to provide true value to its Cardholders, Standard Chartered Bank has also partnered several establishments for discounts up to 25%. These year-round savings are valid up to December 31, 2008 and range from a holiday in the cultural triangle to sunny beaches, fine dining to high fashion, and home furnishing to health spas, and fun times for kids to entertainment for the whole family.

Standard Chartered is also the 1st Bank to launch the ‘Smart Spender’ programme through which a Cardholder could opt to settle any transaction locally or overseas which is above Rs10,000 in 3,6,9,12,18 or 24 months at just 2% per month. The ‘Smart Spender Programme’ is valid up to May 31, 2008

Standard Chartered Credit Cardholders also enjoy the best overseas travel deals in town from a range of destinations that include Chennai, Bangalore, Maldives, Bangkok and Pattaya, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai and special travel packages to Egypt, Europe, America and a special Buddhist pilgrimage to India and Nepal. Cardholders are also offered the privilege of opting to settle their credit card payment on account of any of the travel packages via a 0% interest installment plan in 3, 6, 9 or 12 equal monthly installments. These special travel deals are offered up to May 31, 2008.


HSBC Credit Cardholders hit the jackpot at Singer outlets

HSBC credit cardholders have more reason to celebrate at any Singer Mega or selected Singer Plus outlets till May 31, 2008. Customers will have the opportunity to strike their wheel of fortune at the Singer Jackpot and win up to Rs. 2 million worth of prizes by using their HSBC credit card to purchase electronic goods and household appliances.

During the promotional period, credit cardholders with purchases of Rs. 2,000 or more, at any of the Singer Mega or selected Singer Plus outlets, will be eligible to enter a lucky draw to win 418 amazing prizes. The lucky winners will be gifted with DVD players, TV’s, refrigerators, fans, irons, air conditioners, computers and much more.

The promotion requires customers to simply spend Rs. 2,000 and increase their chances of winning by spending multiples of it. Customers will receive a single coupon for purchases of Rs. 2,000, and an additional coupon for every other purchase of Rs. 2,000. Customers purchasing on 0% installments with a first installment of Rs. 2,000 or more will also be entitled to enter the lucky draw.

Head of Credit Cards and Consumer Assets, HSBC, Nilantha Bastian, whilst inviting customers to make the most of this offer said, “Singer is a trusted household name in the consumer durables market today, with an extensive range of household appliances and electronic goods that are of high quality and international repute. The Singer Jackpot is a unique promotion that allows customers, who particularly shop for new items during this time of the year, to swipe their credit card and win extra at Singer, creating excitement for all shoppers”.

HSBC is the undisputed leader in credit cards in Sri Lanka. The HSBC credit card opens up a world of opportunities, making life more convenient for its customers. Along with powerful global and local privileges, the HSBC credit cardholder has access to a remarkable range of services and benefits, whether at home or abroad.


ICICI Bank profits exceed US$ 1 billion

ICICI Bank’s profit after tax, for the year ending March 31, 2008, has crossed US$ 1 billion. According to the Bank’s audited accounts, profit after tax for, the quarter ended March 31, 2008, has increased 39% to Rs. 1,150 crore (US$ 287 million) from Rs. 825 crore (US$ 206 million) for the quarter ended March 31, 2007.

Profit after tax for FY2008 increased 34% to Rs. 4,158 crore (US$ 1 billion, from Rs. 3,110 crore (US$ 775 million) for the year ended March 31, 2007. The Net interest income has increased 30% to Rs. 7,304 crore (US$ 1.8 billion) for FY2008 from Rs. 5,637 crore (US$ 1.4 billion) for FY2007. Fee income has increased 32% to Rs. 6,627 crore (US$ 1.7 billion) for FY2008 from Rs. 5,012 crore (US$ 1.2 billion) for FY2007.

Current and Savings Account (CASA) deposits ratio has increased to 26% at March 31, 2008 from 22% at March 31, 2007. At March 31, 2008, ICICI Bank and its subsidiaries had consolidated total assets of Rs. 485,830 crore (US$ 121.1 billion).
The Board has recommended a dividend of 110% for FY2008 i.e. Rs. 11 per equity share (equivalent to US$ 0.55 per ADS) as compared to 100% for FY2007. The declaration and payment of dividend is subject to requisite approvals. CASA deposits have increased 27% to Rs. 63,781 crore (US$ 15.9 billion) at March 31, 2008 from Rs. 50,214 crore (US$ 12.5 billion) at March 31, 2007 and constituted 26% of total deposits at March 31, 2008, compared to 22% at March 31, 2007.

The Bank is significantly expanding its branch network to expand its reach and further enhance its deposit franchise. At April 23, 2008, the Bank had 1,308 branches and extension counters as compared to 755 branches and extension counters at March 31, 2007. This increase of 553 branches and extension counters

includes about 190 branches on account of the merger with Sangli Bank. The Bank had 3,950 ATMs at April 23, 2008.
Consolidated advances of the Bank and its overseas banking subsidiaries and ICICI Home Finance Company increased 19% to Rs. 252,071 crore (US$ 62.8 billion) at March 31, 2008 from Rs. 211,660 crore (US$ 52.8 billion) at March 31, 2007. This reflects robust growth in the loan book of the Bank’s international branches, its international subsidiaries and ICICI Home Finance Company. ICICI Bank’s international business is focused on building a Retail Deposit base, which gives the Bank access to low cost deposits on sustainable basis. Aggregate Retail Deposits of ICICI Bank UK and Canada increased 90% from Rs. 15,740 crore (US$ 3.9 billion) at March 31, 2007 to Rs. 29,861 crore (US$ 7.4 billion) at March 31, 2008.


HSBC and JCISL to sponser Outstanding Youth Persons Awards 2008-2010

The partnership between HSBC and the Junior Chamber International Sri Lanka (JCISL) to sponsor the TOYP awards was renewed for a further period of three years on April 30, 2008 at the bank premises in Fort.

This partnership aims to recognise and reward the youth of Sri Lanka, at the Annual Outstanding Young Persons Awards (TOYP) scheduled to be held in September 2008.

The new agreement was signed by Chief Executive Officer, Nick A Nicoloau on behalf of HSBC while National President, JCI Sen. Niroshan Silva signed on behalf of JCISL.