CLOSE relationships between supervisors and their agents in the insurance and property industry could make it easier for candidates to solicit support in the eighth of the nine new functional constituencies. Kevin Wong Kam-fai, former vice-president of Life Underwriters' Association, said that managers or supervisors in the insurance industry have considerable influence over the agents who work for them. 'Many agents were brought in and trained by the supervisors,' Mr Wong said. 'Their views would largely be shaped by their seniors. 'They call their supervisors 'big brother' or even father or mother,' he said. 'If supervisors support a particular candidate, his agents are likely to follow.' He said that candidates would stand a better chance if they were endorsed by influential supervisors in the industry. A supervisor of more than 160 agents, Mr Wong said he was not interested in contesting the poll. Another experienced insurance supervisor, who preferred to be called Mr Chiang, endorsed his view, saying some powerful figures in the industry could enlist the support of more than a thousand agents. He said the exodus of more than 1,000 insurance agents from one big insurance company to the newly established Top Glory Insurance Company last year was a good example. 'They moved to the new company mainly because of the influence of their former boss Andrew Yang who had become the chief executive there,' said Mr Chiang. But both Mr Chiang and Mr Wong said there was a limit to the number of agents working under one supervisor and candidates would still have to contact hundreds of managers or supervisors in different insurance companies. Mr Wong added that the keen competition between major insurance companies would make it difficult for a candidate to win the support of many of the big names. 'If someone from National Mutual decided to contest the seat, agents or supervisors from the others might not be willing to support him,' he said. A similar relationship exists between agents and managers in property agencies, another major industry in the constituency. Sze Wing-ching of Centaline Property said the property agents work closely with their superiors, but he thought indifference to politics would make it difficult for anyone to lobby support from the supervisors. He had been pushing his staff to register as voters in the functional constituency but branch managers and agents were not enthusiastic. 'As far as I know, only about half the staff in my company have registered on the electoral roll. 'I think people working in our industry are more keen to make money than to cast their votes,' he said. Mr Sze decided not to enter the contest and will support another candidate, Chan Tung-ngok, who has close ties with the property business. He added that employees from different lines of business will probably support those from their own industry rather than other businesses, unless someone who is overwhelmingly popular contests the seat. Other candidates planning to contest the group include Chan Yim-kwong from the Liberal Party, ex-TV presenter Chan Yuk-cheung and Ng Man-kung, a banker from the Bank of China group. GROUP 8: Financing, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services (potential electorate: 282,000). Includes insurance agents; stockbrokers; commodities traders; pawn shopkeepers; bankers; property management agents; public relations consultants; surveyors.