Singaporean bank DBS and Canadian insurer Manulife will jointly invest S$100 million ($70 million) in technology to enhance product distribution under the 15-year tie-up they began this week. One move will be to enable relationship managers to service customers on the move and outside typical branch operating hours. 

Manulife insurance and wealth management products are now on DBS shelves in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore. Prior to the agreement, which is non-exclusive, that was only the case in Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The two firms signed the bancassurance deal in April last year, which was seen as a coup for Manulife, as it significantly expands the firms’ existing distribution relationship. 

It is likely to be the last major pan-regional bancassurance tie-up, as other big players have found partners, reported FinanceAsia at the time. Citigroup inked a deal with Hong Kong-based AIA in 2013, Standard Chartered renewed its alliance with Prudential in 2014, and HSBC came to an agreement with Allianz for some of its Asian markets in 2012.

Manulife will make an initial one-off payment to DBS of $1.2 billion, then variable amounts linked to the success of the partnership. Aviva had been the incumbent provider to DBS, but the UK-based insurer said it had viewed the price tag as economically unviable.

Manulife will now have access to DBS’s six million retail, wealth and SME customers. The bank has a network of 200 branches and a sales force of 2,000 professionals in Asia, as well as its internet and mobile banking platforms.

Roy Gori, president and chief executive of Manulife Asia, said: “As a result of this agreement, customers will benefit from DBS’s multi-channel approach.”

To help identify opportunities in Asian bancassurance, the two firms in November commissioned consultancy Nielsen to conduct the inaugural DBS Manulife Retirement Wellness Study of people’s readiness for retirement. Around 6,000 pre-retirees in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan participated in the survey.

Based on the findings, two out of five residents in Singapore are not confident about their preparations for retirement. Moreover, 56% of those who have started retirement planning have not sought any form of advice, and 36% believe they can retire comfortably with their current savings and investments. Only 30% expect to downgrade their current lifestyle and habits when they retire.