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The Top Life Insurance Companies of 2014 in Premiums

And the list of the Philippines’ top 10 life insurance companies in 2014 is released! Once again, Sun Life dominates the rankings for the 4th year in a row. With its increase in 2014 of a little over a billion pesos in total premiums, Sun Life proves to be among the most stable insurance companies. Apart from maintaining its prime spot, Sun Life has surpassed itself by creating a wider gap between the second top company, with a difference of little over twelve billion pesos in total premiums.

Having been in the insurance industry for over a century, Sun Life has been able to create products and services that are able to meet all the needs of people. Moreover this company is known for their relevant and significant marketing strategies, which have given them an edge in this industry, allowing the company to hold on tightly to that top spot.


While the top spot still remains the same, there has been a shift among the 2nd and 3rd spots. The year 2013 saw Philam Life and AXA Philippines at the 2nd and 3rd spot, respectively, with a difference of over a billion in total premiums. However this was not the case for 2014. AXA Philippines has bumped Philam Life off the 2nd spot and reclaimed the position they had held for many years, prior to 2013. With their aggressive and revolutionary marketing strategies, AXA Philippines proves, once more, why they deserve to be part of the top three.

Falling to the 3rd spot with just a small difference of thirty million in total premiums, the total premiums of Philam Life from America have dropped slightly from its phenomenal PhP 19 billion in 2013 to PhP 18 billion in 2014. Nonetheless, their performance is still top rate and noteworthy.

In the 4th spot is Prulife UK, which maintained its ranking of number 4. Although the total premiums of PruLife UK have decreased by PhP 3 billion from 2013, Prulife UK is still able to hold to its prime position in the rankings due to their strong marketing arm.

2014 has also seen a slight restructure in the rankings of BPI-Philam and ManuLife. Though they still performed well this year, ManuLife has fallen down a spot to the 6th ranking. With a little over a billion difference in total premiums, ManuLife is just a little behind BPI-Philam. Climbing to the 5th spot would be BPI-Philam. With its strong infrastructure and fantastic productivity, these two companies have been neck to neck, as seen in the rankings. SunLife Grepa’s performance has slightly gone down as seen in the rankings by being in the 8th spot. However the largest local insurance company improves and is seen to be going up the rankings by claiming the 7th spot.

Manulife Chinabank has also improved and is seen to have gone up the rankings to the 9th spot. However the 10th spot is now claimed by ManuLife Chinabak. Formerly held by PNB Life, the total premiums of PNB Life has gone down from its 6 billion in 2013 to 4 billion in 2014. A round of applause for ManuLife Chinabank though, for entering the top ranks.

Taking a look at the whole picture, 2014 produced premium income of P157,831,673,089. While this number is smaller than 2013’s total premium income of P170,280,660,057, it shows that there is stiff competition in the insurance industry and was brought about by lower single pay premiums. Ultimately, these numbers indicate that Filipinos are becoming smarter about their money, with more people seeing the value of setting some aside for their long-term financial security.

*Data from the Insurance Commission.

Complete rankings of all other categories (net income, net worth, assets, etc.) can be found at the Insurance Commission website or click HERE



Euro nations borrow from Philippines’ IMF fund

eu-flag1Here’s something very interesting to read: 9 EU Nations borrowed nearly over $400M from the Philippine’s IMF fund!

A recent post at the Manila Bulletin, it said that “the central bank reported that nine countries in Europe had withdrawn $439.50 million from its credit facilities with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

As a young elementary student in the 70’s and a high school and college student of the 80’s, I remember having to hear a lot about the International Monetary Fund and how the Philippines was so dependent on it for funding. The IMF was always mentioned as one of the main culprits why the Philippines was poor and how it was enabling the Marcos regime to enslave the nation. Wow, how things have changed from those times!

As a creditor member of the International Monetary Fund, drawing of funds from the fund is the Philippine’s participation to global financial stability. Can you imagine the Philippines contributing to provide ‘global financial stability’? There are 2 funds: IMF’s Financial Transaction Plan (FTP) and New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB). EU member nations Portugal, Ireland, and Greece were the biggest recipients from IMF’s FTP while other nations like Greece, Portugal, Tunisia, Cyprus and Ukraine was also accessed. The Philippines earns from said drawdowns by way of interest payments.

The country continues to register very strong Gross International Reserves (GIR’s) at $ 81.336 as of February 2015.

Another big change from before is our nation is not as indebted as it was before! In fact, the Philippines latest Debt to GDP ratio has improved to 37.3% as compared to 39.7% a year ago. The growth in the Philippine economy has made our debt management easier and we are outperforming many other nations. Our debt to GDP ratio is better than our ASEAN counterparts. The US’s debt to GDP ratio stands at 102.47%, Japan at 227.2%, France at 92.2%, Italy at 132.10%, Singapore at 105.5% and Thailand at 45.7%.

Admittedly, there are much more that needs to be done to ensure sustainable economic gains for the Philippines, one of which is the issue of inclusive growth. However, one cannot argue that the economic condition of the Philippines today is in a much better place than where it was decades ago. Let us continue to work hard at improving our nation, and having the faith to see real and sustainable progress in this generation… our gift for the next generation.




Ph economy to zoom past peers

We have been reading a lot of positive news about the Philippine economy. Despite the cynicism of many, our economy continues to grow and has been attracting a lot of deserved attention. For 2015, we are poised to continue to grow and not only are we expected to perform well, we are expected to outperform our peers.

In a recent article by the Business World, it stated the we are to outpace our peers. Click HERE to read the article.



Bloomberg, a leading finance media also reported that the Philippines is expected to place 2nd in terms of economic growth, just below the economic behemoth China. To read Bloomberg’s article, click HERE

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Despite the bullishness, the Philippine economy is not without any threats:

  • Poverty and high un/underemployment
  • Rising inflation
  • Power deficits
  • Natural disasters
  • Logistic problems – port congestion, truck bans, etc.
  • ASEAN – more competition from foreign companies (for market share and skilled labor and professionals)
  • Political uncertainties (going into 2016 elections); continuation of economic and governance reforms

However, the economic threats are shadowed by opportunities:

  • Transiting to higher levels of economic growth
  • Sectoral and regional growth drivers)
  • Increasing GDP per capita
  • Peace dividends – expanded markets in Mindanao
  • ASEAN integration – larger market for expansion and FDI attraction
  • ASEAN – lower import prices for inputs
  • Demographic Sweet Spot (majority of population now in the working/productive age)

I grew up always hearing that there is little hope for the Philippine economy, that we are buried in debt and that we are the ‘sick man of Asia’. Today’s ‘millennial’ generation are hearing another story and I pray that they will pass on the nation to their next generation in an even better shape.

Let us continue to honor the Lord for what He has been doing to our nation…

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” — Psalm 33:12, NIV


Money Talks goes to Cebu!

Here’s a great learning event for the Cebuanos as we bring Money Talks to Cebu this April 25, 2015.

Joining me in this life-changing event are my friends MARVIN GERMO, RFP and PAULO TIBIG.

Marvin Germo, RFP is known as “Mr. Stock Smarts” and he is one of the country’s most sought after speaker and trainer in the arena of stock market investing. Learn the foundations of proper stock market investing properly from Marvin. He is the author of 2 best-selling books on stock market investing, a columnist for Rappler and Business Mirror and a resident finance expert in 94.7 Mellow FM.

Paulo Tibig has earned the monicker “EntrepChamp” as he conducts hundreds of talks all over the nation on entrepreneurship. He is the CEO of one of the country’s largest logistics company, V Cargo and a former President of the Association of FIlipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI).  He has authored a best-selling book on entrepreneurship.

I will be discussing the fundamental steps to achieve wealth as well as the proper foundations towards investing.

To register, click HERE or send an email to [email protected]

For a learning fee of only P800,00, this is an event every Cebuano shouldn’t miss!

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Is One Lightning Corporation a scam?

Yes, it is a scam.

In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning regarding the scaminvestment taking activities of this company and its affiliates. According to the SEC, no secondary license has been issued to One Lightning Corporation. It is not supposed to be soliciting investments or selling investment products to anyone in the Philippines.

The SEC advisory includes a warning to those who intend to participate in the modus operandi of One Lightning Corporation. Individuals who try to convince others to be part of the activities of the said company will risk getting prosecuted for the violation of the Securities Regulation Code. Those who will continue recruiting more members or investors will be charged accordingly.


SEC Investigation

The Securities and Exchange Commission conducted further investigation on One Lightning because it is a SEC-registered company. The SEC cannot simply release a statement similar to the one issued for Emgoldex Philippines, which is not even registered with the Commission.

The SEC investigation found that One Lightning Corporation invites “investors” to its cosmetics and health care product line. These prospective investors are promised high returns on their investments in a scheme marketed as a “revolutionary compensation plan.” In this scheme, investors will get 70% of the company’s profits.

Just like other companies that attract investors through referrals or recruitment, One Lightning Corporation also dangles recruitment commissions or bonuses called “referral award” and “maturity award,” both of which are pecuniary in nature.

The referral award is given to someone who successfully recruits a new investor, while the maturity award is given to someone whose recruits have recruited other investors. The referal award is around 5% of the investment paid in while the maturity award is around 2%.

In an interview with ANC, Gerard Lukban, commission secretary of the SEC, said that it is not enough that a company is registered in the Philippines for its activities to be considered legal or legitimate. In the case of One Lightning, the act of selling of investment contracts to the public requires SEC’s scrutiny of the company’s registration statement and prospectus of what is being offered.

The SEC referred to One Lightning Corporation’s activities as a pyramiding operation.


Why SEC considers One Lightning a scam

According to SEC secretary Gerard Lukban, there were two violations committed by One Lightning: (1) the questionable investment contracts being offered, and (2) the company’s lack of a licensed salesman to sell the investment contracts. As the SEC advisory stated, the company does not have the permission to publicly offer securities and solicit investments.


Avoiding Similar Scams

Financial advice websites as well as government authorities will tell you a number of common factors that indicate whether or not an investment or “grow your money” company is fraudulent. They include the following:

  • Lack of government licensing (registration) or recognition by the appropriate government agencies
  • Lack of legitimate products or actual revenue-generating business operations
  • Too good to be true (guaranteed high returns)
  • Difficult to find official information about the company
  • Focus is on the recruitment of “investors”

It’s important to note, however, that fraudulent companies at present have already evolved. Some are now registered with the government and also have products to sell. That’s why emphasis should be placed on “appropriate registration or licensing” and “legitimate products.”

As the SEC secretary mentioned, it’s not enough for a company to be registered and that the products being offered should also be examined for the proper licensing or permission to be publicly offered. In the case of One Lightning, it is SEC-registered, but it does not have the necessary permission to offer investment products.

It’s important to be very cautious with all financial decisions you make, especially when dealing with investment opportunities that are mostly being marketed online. Skepticism is advised and encouraged. This need for prudent financial decision-making, however, is not limited to investments. It also applies to making decisions on loans and credit cards.

Fortunately, there are transparency and comparison services like MoneyMax that can help you in differentiating the legitimate offers from the fraudulent ones, as well as the good from the better. They can facilitate a more informed scrutiny of your options. Comparison sites curate a great deal of relevant information and resources that make it easier to see the pros and cons of the choices you are considering.

The Internet is your friend. Make good use of it to research and compare, so you can be at an advantage in your financial decision making concerns. Don’t fall for a scam like One Lightning Corporation.





Free spots to the Financial Fitness Forum 2015

Here’s great news! As a treat to the followers of my site, I am giving away 10 FREE spots to the Financial Fitness Forum 2015 this March 28, 2015 at SMX Aura. This event features the luminaries of the Registered Financial Planner Institute like Efren Cruz, Salve Duplito, Marvin Germo, Edric Mendoza, Malaya Laraya and many more!


Joining is easy, follow the instructions below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more details about the event, visit 


House buying or renting habits of Pinoys

Affordability is top of mind for Filipinos who choose not to buy property, with more than 60 percent of renters in a recent survey of online house-hunters citing cost constraints as the primary reason they leased their home.

The findings are contained in new research from global property website Lamudi, which has recently released its first report on real estate in the emerging markets. The report, Real Estate in the Emerging Markets, provides a comprehensive overview of the property sector in 16 emerging countries, including the Philippines.

The report is based on a series of online surveys conducted with house-hunters and real estate agents in each country, as well as onsite data from Lamudi’s global network of websites. The research examines the habits of online property-seekers, while offering insights into the future of the property sector based on interviews and surveys with local property experts.

The customer survey examined house-hunting habits among buyers and renters. For renters, affordability emerged as the key reason why many Filipinos choose not to buy their own home. More than 60 percent of renters surveyed said they could not afford to buy property. For buyers, the main driver for owning property is security. Nearly three-quarters of buyers cited security as their primary motivation for purchasing a home.

Buying Property

According to the survey of real estate agents, the country’s economic outlook is seen as the top constraint on the property market, reflecting current concerns about a potential slowdown. However, agents and brokers remain overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of the market. More than 90 percent describe their outlook for the next 12 months as positive.

Renting Over Buying

Lamudi’s Global Co-Founder and Managing Director, Kian Moini, said: “The primary conclusion that we have drawn from our research is that the future for the Philippine property sector is extremely bright. In fact, two-thirds of the real estate agents we surveyed are expecting growth of eight percent or higher in the property market this year. The country’s real estate market has emerged as one of the most promising in the Asia Pacific region.”

The report features a series of in-depth interviews with key figures from the property industry of each country, including Jose Romarx Salas, Head of Research and Consulting at Pinnacle Real Estate Consulting Services. Mr Salas said the key challenge for the Philippine property market was finding enough land to accommodate development. “In Metro Manila, that’s the challenge: looking for suitable land. Some developers are even willing to bid high, which pushes up already skyrocketing land prices in the capital,” he told Lamudi.

The 16 countries covered in the report are: Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mexico and Colombia.

The full report is presented in an easy-to-read online format, available for viewing here.



Launched in 2013, Lamudi is a global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets. The fast-growing platform is currently available in 28 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with more than 700,000 real estate listings across its global network. The leading real estate marketplace offers sellers, buyers, landlords and renters a secure and easy to-use platform to find or list properties online.


Retirement & Estate Planning Seminars in UAE

Aside from the main event, Money Talks UAE on March 20, 2015, I will be conducting Retirement & Estate Planning seminars in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well.

Retirement Planning 

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to prepare a comprehensive retirement plan that is suited for you and a plan that really works. Find out how you can truly live a life of comfort & learn about the proper investments that is best suited for your needs objectively

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Estate Planning

Learn how to properly transfer your assets in a cost-efficient manner. Estate planning is a good tool to minimize, if not eliminate uncertainties in the proper distribution of your estate. Estate planning will help you have peace of mind that you will indeed leave a lasting legacy

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Retirement Planning, Abu Dhabi – March 13, 2015; 9am to 12noon. Register HERE

Retirement Planning, Dubai – March 14; 2 to 5pm.Register HERE

Estate Planning, Dubai – March 14, 6 to 9pm.Register HERE


You may also send an email to [email protected]  for inquiries. Limited slots only.

Money Talks UAE on March 20, 2015 HERE


Free finance event in Hong Kong

SONY DSCI will be back in Hong Kong for another personal finance program to be held at the Consular office on March 1, 2015 at 4:30pm. This is the 3rd year I am conducting a program organized by the Philippine Consulate and Smart Pinoy.

This event is for the OFWs based in Hong Kong and FREE of charge. See you in Hong Kong!

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Stocks or Stock Funds?

Philippine-stock-market-board (1)QUESTION: I am ready to start investing and I would like to invest in equities. Is it better to invest in stocks directly or through pooled stock funds like UITF or mutual funds? —Name withheld per request, asked via e-mail

Answer: As a financial and investment planner, we need to subscribe to the principle of suitability. Without sufficient information, it wouldn’t be prudent of me to categorically say one would be better than the other. The answer really depends on you—if you are knowledgeable enough to select your own stocks, size of funds, and if you have enough time for investing.

However, to help you make a more informed decision, let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both types of investing.

On individual stocks

Advantages :

Control—Buying your stocks directly gives you control over what and when to buy or sell.

Residual income—If you buy a stock with a good dividend payout, then you don’t have to watch the price movement anymore. As long as the company is earning and declares dividends, you will get dividends.

Maximized returns—individual stocks that are growing may beat the market and can give you better-than-average returns. Many stocks beat the index last year.

Potentially better returns—with proper selection and assuming that you are very good at selecting market performers, the growth of your own stock portfolio can outperform the stock market index and many stock funds.

Fees—buying your stocks directly from brokers usually means lower fees as fund managers charge a higher investment management fee compared to stock brokers.

Disadvantages :

Time-consuming—before investing, you should spend enough time thoroughly understanding how stock market investing works. You should also accumulate enough knowledge of both fundamental and technical analysis.  Fundamental analysis means you must be able to read and understand financial reports of the companies you would like to invest in, the general condition of the industries and market trends to which these companies belong to, general knowledge of macroeconomics and even the management of the corporations you would like to own shares of, etc. Technical analysis will require you to constantly study charts on price averages, trading volumes and a multitude of technical market theories like Dow theory, Relative Strength Index, Elliott Wave theory and more. While fundamental and technical analysis is not rocket science, it takes considerable time for you to learn them properly. Enrolling in a class like Marvin Germo’s Stock Smarts is a good way to start.

Diversification—all investment professionals will always recommend you to diversify. No amount of study and good performance in the past will guarantee the performance of a particular stock in the future so having several and properly selected stocks is always a prudent thing to do. Unless you have a very big capital for investing, you will be limited to the variety of stocks you can carry in your portfolio.


On stock funds

Advantages :

Professional fund management—this is perhaps the biggest advantage of pooled funds like UITFs and mutual funds. There is a dedicated team of investment experts that looks at investment opportunities and is investing the money according to the investment objectives of the fund. It is common to see CFAs or Certified Financial Analysts leading or being part of these investment teams. Good fund managers are clinical and logical investors and are not easily swayed by emotions as compared to individual investors.

Capital requirements—most of pooled stock funds have low capital entry requirements. One can invest in a fund for as low as P 5,000 to P10,000, with other providers requiring a monthly contribution of as low as P1,000 per month.

Diversification—all stock funds carry well-diversified stocks in their portfolio, usually blue chip or premium stocks. Since these are pooled funds, there are economies of scale in place; fund managers will be able to purchase different shares. Proper diversification will ultimately result in reduced portfolio risk.

Disadvantages :

Fees—While not all stock funds charge the same range of fees, these fees are usually much more than broker fees as there are costs involved in managing funds. Some funds even charges entry and exit fees, which can reduce the returns of your investments. Some funds are being sold through agents and advisors and commissions would need to be paid to them.

Control—you have no say on which funds you want or don’t want in your fund as this is already delegated to the fund managers. You also can’t modify the weight of the stocks inside a stock fund as fund managers follow maximum exposure limits per stock to ensure proper risk management practices. Even if you want more PLDT or Jollibee shares in your portfolio, your fund will only have a limited exposure to said stocks, like 10 percent.

The answer to your question is dependent upon you knowing the pros and cons of individual stock investing or through a pooled equity or stock fund. If you are a new investor, I recommend you invest in a stock fund first and as you get to understand how the stock market works and develop your competency in investing, you may want to start investing in individual stocks. There are no perfect investments and there are many ways to build your wealth, chose a strategy that you will be most comfortable with.

Do not forget, whether investing in stocks by yourself or through a fund, it pays to invest first in investment education.