In May 2021, The Edge Markets Malaysia reported that there will be an 18% net reduction of retail bank branches across Southeast Asia by 2030, as lenders and customers increasingly move away from branch-based services to digitalised self-service offerings. In fact, strategy consulting firm, Roland Berger estimates that there will be a projected drop of 23% in the number of physical branches in Malaysia, and as banks race to digitalise their processes and services, insurers too, have begun to speed up their digital transformation.
In light of all these developments, our team at Prospects recently sat down with Francis Wong Weng Kee, one of Great Eastern Malaysia’s Branch Admin Managers to learn more about the effects of digitalisation within the insurance industry. With a decade of cumulative experience in both banking and insurance sectors, Francis currently oversees the Seremban branch’s operations and leads a team of 23 front-line employees.
In a business environment rocked by Covid-19 and various movement restrictions, Francis is not only responsible for providing a one-stop service centre for customers and agents, but also to develop his team to ensure they are equipped with the right skills and competencies to succeed as Great Eastern Malaysia ramps up their digital transformation journey. In this article, Francis shares with us how he discovered his passion as a Branch Manager, and the differences he has set out to make in the post-pandemic workplace.
1. From IT to Customer Service, Passion Can Take You on an Exciting Journey
Despite graduating from an IT background and initially pursuing a career in the field, Francis realised that the sedentary office life did not suit him. Preferring to ‘move around’ and interact with people, he dabbled into Marketing and found his interest in the area of sales, starting out as a Sales Executive and subsequently rising through the ranks as he progressed, eventually becoming a Branch Manager in the banking industry before his move to Great Eastern Malaysia. Today, he leads the Seremban branch’s operations and supports a network of customers and agents who visit the branch for specific requests and services, such as filing a claim or processing an application.
While more and more processes are being digitalised to better facilitate customers’ transactions, branch networks continue to operate to provide the necessary human touch irreplaceable by automation, particularly in complex requests such as the processing of insurance claims in the unfortunate event of a loss. At the forefront of customer service, Francis discovered his passion in helping and interacting with people, driven by the urge to advocate the importance of having insurance as a means of financial protection, and chose a career that enabled him to do so. In his role today, he is determined to equip his employees with the knowledge and skills to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the insurance industry, as well as inculcate a truly customer-centric culture that would not corrode in the face of digitalisation.
2. A Transformational Journey: The Importance of Gearing for the Future of Work
As a result of Covid-19, Great Eastern Malaysia joins many other organisations in transforming their processes and customer experience to ensure business sustainability. However, to transform an organisation, the people must also transform.
At the onset of the pandemic and as movement restriction orders began to impose challenges on normal operations, employers embarked on a large-scale remote working experiment, and digitalised processes were rapidly introduced. To keep up with these changes, Francis ensured his team was equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to perform their duties to the best of their capabilities. Despite the generation gap within the team, as a people leader, he provided emotional and psychological support for his employees as they adapted to drastic changes in operations, and ensured they are reskilled and upskilled to meet future business demands. For Francis, as the post-pandemic workplace brings with it new ways of working and widespread use of automation, the most crucial change needed was a change of mindset.
“The way we see and do things must change if we are to adapt, and this must be translated to all levels of employees. When Covid-19 catalysed changes in the company, we took small, baby steps towards the desired change and as a people leader, what is most important is that we communicate what the changes are, and why they must happen.”
By aligning goals and keeping communication channels open, Francis aims to cultivate a culture of trust and empowerment among his employees as the company continues to evolve because the transformation of an organisation is ultimately the transformation of its people.
3. Preparing Yourself for Change
As a true believer in ‘taking charge of one’s career’ particularly in times of drastic change, Francis makes it his personal mission to nurture his team in fulfilling their potential, by encouraging them to enroll in available learning courses or training programmes that would benefit them in their respective roles. People are an organisation’s biggest asset, and it is no doubt that investing in employees will not only benefit the staff, but also the company. To this end, Great Eastern Malaysia provides numerous development opportunities to nurture their talents, which include learning programmes, project management, and career mobility opportunities via the Internal Job Posting (IJP) mechanism.
What’s Francis’ best advice for young graduates starting out in their career? Be persistent, and be willing to learn. Regardless of where you are in your career, realising that there is always room for improvement within yourself is the key to unlocking your fullest potential, even in challenging times!
Inspired by Francis’ story? Discover the GREAT in your career and learn more about the opportunities available at Great Eastern Malaysia.
As part of Great Eastern, you will be making a difference from the moment you walk through the door, enriching both your life and the lives of others.
If you are interested in exploring a career with the leading life insurance company in Malaysia, visit the Great Eastern Malaysia website to learn more about the company’s culture and ongoing developments. Alternatively, if you are a fresh graduate looking to start your professional career with the Great Eastern Management Associate Programme, start your application process here.