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Tough conditions but we’re pushing forward, says FPI

Friends Provident International first quarter sales in Asia have halved from last year’s figures but the firm says it remains focused on international growth.

FPI saw sales in Asia drop to £16.7m from £32.5 the previous year with business affected by market volatility and dented consumer confidence.

Despite the tough economic climate, managing director for international operations Rocco Sepe says the firm is continuing to look at product diversification and sensible ways to extend its geographical presence.

He says: “Tough conditions but we’re pushing forward, we’re refreshing propositions, we’re being energetic with our new product offerings and we expect as soon as markets recover for us to be able to really push on with this business.”

Sepe says the firm is continuing to develop its presence in the Middle East after having acquired a full UAE license with new distribution. It also intends to build on its Singapore branch and its German offering, a market which it entered in March 2007.

He says: “We’ve etsblished a very firm hub in the UAE, there are lots of surrounding territories and we’ll be looking at what opporunities exist there.

“As far as Germany is concerned, we want to maket sure our personal pension proposition is solid and well accepted there, but as we build a reputation we’re going to look to extend the product suite. We’ve only had a full range of products in Singapore from the latter part of last year so there’s still plenty of stretch there.”

FPI has operated in the Hong Kong market for over 20 years and according to Sepe, the firm’s strong distributor relationships will put the firm in good stead come a recovery.

He says: “Asian markets tend to recover first and faster than others. In stark contrast to the UK there is almost determined optimism. We can’t call when it will turn but it will turn and it’s a region set for very fast growth in years to come.”

According to FPI director of international operations Paul Tunnicliffe, the firm’s past decisions to diversify both territorially and through its product offering has shielded the business from further hits.

He says: “If I look back a few years, our investments into the Middle East, our Germany position, the Singapore branch- if it wasn’t for those investments and that strategy these numbers could have been even more impacted by the Hong Kong market.”


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