Ping An's vision is to "become a world-leading personal financial services provider". Ping An fulfills its corporate social responsibility, and creates maximum value for its customers, employees, shareholders and communities. Ping An advocates a value of "being a moral person of value who constantly seeks excellence, based on traditional culture and oriented by value maximization". Ping An upholds its spirits of "Leading in expertise, providing service with integrity, creating value, and supporting communities". Ping An sticks to its brand positioning of "expertise creates value", and strives to provide customer experience of "expertise makes life easier" in a new era of "integrated finance +" and "internet +".
Stage I: Enterprising spirit
Ping An was established in Shenkou on May 27, 1988. At that time, China was at its initial stage of the transition to a market economy and was groping forward with its reform and opening up policy. Government policies and regulations were yet to be well established and the commercial sense of the mass was just in the bud. The insurance market in China was in a monopolistic state.
In the late 1980s, the urban residents had very limited knowledge about insurance, but the earliest staff of Ping An worked passionately and overcome difficulties that cannot be imagined today. Once a colleague promoted business at a Public Security Bureau office and was questioned: "how can a city have two insurance companies? If there are two Public Security Bureau authorities, which one is the higher-up?" When promoting insurance products in enterprises, people even asked: “What are the specifications of your safes?” At that time, Ping An was under tremendous pressure in face of the resource scarcity, harsh conditions and misunderstanding of the public. With outstanding courage and bravery, Ping An and its employees overcome all difficulties, and finally built up the company and established the initial connotation of Ping An culture.
1. Enterprising and innovative: to reform for survival and to innovate for development
2. Performance-based appraisal mechanism
The above thought and mechanism seem simple and reasonable now but was strange at that time and hence evoked a strong response from the public, even in Shekou, the front line of the reform and open-up, because people had got used to the rules of planned economy, i.e. to work for one company for a lifetime.
The mechanism and culture, like a breath of fresh air, attracted a great number of young people to join the company, as a result of which, the company grew rapidly from a 400-square-meter office into an insurer with a nationwide network. With outstanding courage and insight as well as a spirit of self-devotion, the company continuously broke the original insurance regulations and policies in China and thus foreshadowed thorough changes to the market pattern in the later days.
Stage II: Confucianism
In the context that the society did not accept or even rejected the commercial culture, the sudden open to the outside world and accelerated reform resulted in a mercenary atmosphere that people lacked of business ethnics and desired for quick success, which conflicted with the principle of good faith followed in the commercial society. With the rapid business expansion of the company, the unhealthy atmosphere also affected the mentality of Ping An people. Though the employees worked very hard, they did not share the same value with the company. People had no code of conduct to follow and had no idea why they came together and for what they worked so hard.
In order to develop into a thoughtful company with culture, vitality and the capability to realize long-term development, the company began to return to the essence of Chinese traditional culture using traditional Confucianism as the base of the company and “benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, faith, honesty" as the ethics of Ping An people as well as the yardstick to deal with various relationships. On this basis, the foundation of Ping An culture was established and Ping An people started to correctly understand and handle the relationship between individuals and the company, society and national interests.
In order to strengthen the company's cohesion and get the development of employees and the development of the company bound closely, Ping An launched "employee partnership fund" against all the odds, which were eventually recognized by the government and the public.
Stage III: International strategies
In mid 1990s, the company began to implement its international strategies, namely, to introduce foreign strategic investors, to learn from international corporate governance structure and to attract overseas talents, which is called as "three foreign" ("foreign capital", "foreign structure" and "foreign brains" by the company. The purpose to introduce the “three foreign” is to establish "international standards", that is, to establish Ping An’s "international standards" in a short time by using the international standards that foreign insurance companies took hundreds of years to build, so as to enhance the competitive edge of Ping An. In the meanwhile, the company was once again pushed to the cusp of the era due to its views that "there is no need to cross a river by feeling the stones if there is a bridge over the river and you can cross the river soon by paying the toll", and that " a cat that can catch rats is a good cat, whether a foreign cat or a local cat”.
With the help from a large number of outstanding talents attracted from overseas, the company cultivated a lot of local talents rapidly, making contribution to not only the development of the company but also to the advancement of the industry. The company became the first insurer in China to introduce international strategic investors, to establish a financial and actuarial system in accordance with international standards, to engage a great number of overseas professionals, and to promote life insurance products to individuals. The introduction of the “three foreign” helped Ping An build its international vision, a brand new management philosophy, and an international, professional management team, enabling Ping An to usher its rapid development and expansion.
In this process, the company not only adopted the overseas technologies and experience as the tool to develop the company, but also summarized the essence of western culture, i.e. the rules of persisting in principles, disciplines and policies, and got it integrated into the traditional “people-oriented” culture of the company.
Stage IV: Value-oriented culture
At the turn of the century, Ping An found that its branches and outlets all over the country had different business management models and standards each. There was no uniform standard or business planning, neither was a deep understanding of modern business management. Generally speaking, there are a variety of legitimate business purposes to support the existence of a company and various standards to evaluate the behavior of a company, but what is the most important purpose and the most authoritative standard? If this cannot be made clear, it is nonsense to talk about common understanding and uniform action.
After more than ten years of practice and an in-depth thinking about the standard of “doing things”, the company put forward a brand new value management culture that "value maximization is the sole criterion to test all work". The company divided its values into two parts, namely financial value and intrinsic value. Financial value is reflected in the company's various financial indicators such as stock price and market capitalization, while the intrinsic value of the company is the driving force for its sustainable development, such as excellent culture, strong brand, core skills, development potential and future trends. Value maximization is reflected in market capitalization and other indicators externally, and is showed internally as the balance between the four liabilities of the company (responsibilities for shareholders, customers, employees and society). That is to say, the company would encourage things that can help fulfill the four liabilities and maintain the sustainable profit growth, and vice versa. The principle of value maximization was hence followed by Ping An people to deal with others, used as the action plan for business management and seen as the sole criterion to test all work. "Anything that will help the company maximize its value is the right thing that we strive for."
★Connotation of Ping An culture: Build on traditional culture to grow into a noble and valuable person in pursuit of excellence and value maximization
★Corporate value is the basis for realizing the value of individuals. Value maximization is the Program of Action guiding the business management of the company and the sole criterion for testing all the work.
★Ping An ambition: to become a world-class integrated financial services group (substituted “leading” for "first class" in 2006)
★PingAn values: honesty, trust, enterprising, success.
Stage V: Implementation/policies
The unit-linked insurance incident is an unforgettable experience and a costly and valuable lesson to Ping An people. A strategic planning, no matter how perfect it is, can never be achieved if not being carefully implemented.
The company went back to its culture for reasons behind and began to vigorously pursue the culture of implementation. It was stressed that capability of implementation is the company's core competitive edge, and that implementation is the obligation of each manager. In the meanwhile, the company vigorously strengthened relevant rules. In the Sales Elite Summit held in Thailand in 2002, Chairman Peter Ma of Ping An Group delivered a speech titled “build a hundred-year-old company based on integrity”. The keynote has two meanings, "to build a century-old company on the basis of good faith” and to emphasize the "credibility crisis", reminding all Ping An people to understand the significance of customers’ trust and the necessity to win the trust of customers, since the company would otherwise fail. To rebuild customers’ confidence in Ping An, the company carried out the "Customer Revisit Plan" and revisited 1.26million customers in total. During the revisits, Ping An agents apologized for the misleading information delivered to customers and offered a variety of solutions to help customers protect their own interests as much as possible.
After three years of efforts, the company achieved remarkable results in 2005 in the establishment of company rules and policies. PAG realized its holistic listing with the participation of HSBC and gradually improved its capability of implementation, resulting in the gradual progress in its centralized and standardized operation.
Stage VI: Leadership/platform
After the baptism of the capital market, the company grew into a hundred-billion-yuan platform aiming to become greater and stronger, with the ambition to become a "world's leading integrated financial services group" instead of a “world-class” one.
The company believes that to become a market leader in a real sense, it is necessary to add “leadership” in the connotation of the concept of development, making the pursuit of leadership the DNA of all Ping An people and a part of Ping An culture.
International financial giants usually have strong capital and great influence, providing customers with a full range of integrated financial services and building leadership in various aspects. Representatives of such financial giants include the US-based Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC and American international Group. The four companies all register market capitalization of over 1 trillion and have a history of over 100 years, and they are market leaders, rule makers and price setters. Ping An aimed to grow into such a financial giant and compete with these best companies in the market.
The connotation of the word “leadership” is to become the market leader, the rule maker and the price setter.
To be a market leader, the company shall have the largest market share, the strongest profitability as well as unchallengeable and unshakable position in the market.
To be a rule maker, the company shall establish industry standards for products, services and so on and build an example in business rules, operating procedures and etc.
To become a price setter, the company shall be able to decide the interest rates, the prices of insurance products, the level of fees and the like.
The company reflected and realized that it had a great gap with the above-mentioned multinational corporations. To become a world leading integrated financial group, the company shall have the spirit of continuous pursuit of leadership implanted in the mind of each of its people and in the corporate culture. “All Ping An people across Ping An, from top to bottom, shall have the confidence and determination to beat their opponents, and get “continuous pursuit of leadership” implanted in their minds. Only in this way can we figure out strategies for achieving the targets and overtaking our rivals.”
New stage: “Expertise • Value” evolution
The company continued to enrich the connotation of “Expertise • Value” and launched the slogans of "Expertise crates value" and "Expertise makes life easier". Centered on the culture of expertise, the company designed a new company song and called on everyone of Ping An, common employees and leaders, to start from customer experience and focus on each single thing to improve the level of professionalism. The company conducted "professional skills Olympics" and "5 + 1" project targeting sales people and managers to enhance the professionalism of its employees. While continuously enriching the connotation of its corporate culture and strengthen the sense of crisis, the company is also continuously optimizing its services and improving the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of customer experience. In the meanwhile, by virtue of newspapers, morning meetings, new media and other communication channels, the company has been enhancing the communication of corporate culture with its subsidiaries and strengthening the consistency in understanding, expression and implementation of corporate culture. In the meanwhile, the company also took measures like publications, morning meetings and systematic communication about the corporate culture to accelerate the integration of banking culture.