Profiting from Ethics and Professionalism: AIA Bhd. Raises the Bar

*Available in digital version only
27 Dec 2018
Achieving business success in financial services while upholding the highest standards of ethics and professionalism may sound like an oxymoron. The industry’s image of stability and staid conservatism took a battering in the global financial crisis of 2008. Public faith in it continues to be rocked by an unending stream of scandals. In this charged climate of distrust and scepticism, AIA Bhd. made a bold move against industry trends in 2013 by placing ethics and professionalism at the heart of its corporate culture, overriding all other priorities, including commercial gains. It has since pursued an operating philosophy under which all actions from the boardroom to the front desk are held to the light of its customers’ best interests than its own. A potentially self-defeating move in a market where competitors do not always play by the rules. Yet, AIA Bhd.’s business results show it has pulled off a coup. What cynics may have viewed as naive idealism has turned out to be the soundest business decision it could have made. AIA Bhd. simply read the customers’ sentiments better than anyone else. This case study tells the story of how it held its bet on them with dogged determination and how they, in turn, rewarded it with their trust and business.