Clients risk losing out when agents are poached

The poaching of more than 300 Great Eastern agents by AIA Financial Advisers is not a small event (Over 300 GE agents jump ship to new AIA unit; Sept 12).

The migration would affect the clients of these agents, leaving them without a dedicated agent to serve them.

These agents could have been with their clients for decades, building up personal relationships and trust.

It may not be just about simple term or life policies. There could be wealth management and investment portfolios involved.

Some agents, desperate to meet their new sales targets, could persuade their clients to terminate their policies with Great Eastern and buy new plans to support them. The clients risk incurring losses and experiencing hard-selling.

This raises the question of whether there are any market-conduct rules to safeguard customers' interests.

How would the Monetary Authority of Singapore assure consumers that there is no improper switching and undesirable sales practices? It should ensure that consumers' interests are protected.

While it is right for an individual to look out for a better career, a mass exodus as a result of a poaching battle among insurers disrupts the operations of a business.

The Life Insurance Association, Singapore, should issue recruiting guidelines.

Insurance firms should have an agreement to refrain from hiring agents from rival companies for a specified period.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'Clients risk losing out when agents are poached'. Print Edition | Subscribe