‘Opportunity for insurance brokers huge, but requires creativity, ingenuity – Shola Tinubu
Shola Tinubu, managing director/ CEO, SCIB Insurance Brokers Limited will on the 19th of October 2017 invested the new President of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB). In this interview with Modestus Anaesoronye, shares his taught on developments in the insurance industry, brokerage fraternity and prospect of the business in the emerging economy. Excerpt:
Congratulations on your election as the new President of NCRIB. What is the policy thrust of your leadership?
I think the most important thing is the fact that we are the professional arm of the industry, and are focused primarily as far as insurance brokerage is concerned on professionalism, which will lead to improved image of the brokerage fraternity and of course, the insurance industry as a whole.
We focus more on improved collaboration because we have been too divided in the past, but we are more or less trying to forge one united family because we are all insurers, whatever we say in the public is regarded as insurer’s voice not minding which arm of the sector you belong to. That collaboration is important to the success of the industry. We want to speak with one voice on matters affecting the public, industry, policyholders and customers alike.
The focus is on the nine points plan I will be presenting during my investiture, which bothers on professionalism; how we conduct ourselves in the market place; how we relate to the public; the advice we give to the insuring public, and general service delivery , These are all part of professionalism. Anything that will promote the council, the insurance industry in particular and the protection of the consumer is what is uppermost in the conduct of our business.
Taking the leadership role as the new President of NCRIB, what does this mean in your life and your career?
I think it is an honour to be given this type of leadership role where one is able to implement or better implement some of the ideologies and concepts that I have nursed in the course of my career. It is important to note here that this position is a non executive position, where you have the chairman of a board, Council Members and the Chief Executive Officer, and the board led by the chairman who gives certain leadership. So, I do not expect that it is something I am going to do alone; of course, I am going to do it with my team. So, it’s a fulfillment that at this point in time I am called for this leadership role.
On completion of your tenure as the President of the NCRIB, what would you want to see the council look like?
Essentially, the vision I have is that NCRIB will stand as a strong institution that can be placed side by side with many of its peers. As an institution that has internationally affiliation, the standard for us are the standard that is seen with British Insurance Broker Association (BIBA) and many of those things and standards they apply. If I am to explain it differently, I am looking at an institution, where from year to year, president comes, president goes and the institution stands, and can be able to play effective role of being able to talk to Government on institutional issues; professional issues; on economy and also relate with government on all affairs that affect our members, because essentially that is the challenge we have a group.
Given your role as intermediary, how do you intend to maximise the potential of the brokers towards achieving increased growth?
First of all, you must be able to see where the market is going because you wouldn’t want to help the broker to maximize their usefulness in what happened in the past, it must be what is going to happen in the future. So, let’s look at what the future holds for brokers. The broker has always been known as strong in the corporate business. Retail is the big thing coming, insurance penetration is going to be potential for us in terms of retail. That will happen, but the corporate business remains important because companies like Shell as big as they are still have big insurance departments with technical advisers on insurance, which will continue to require the role of brokers. They still use brokers and they will continue for the future. They have captive insurance companies run by themselves, yet they still use brokers sometimes to run their captives. We even have a situation where NNPC captive is run by brokers even till today, so the role of brokers in corporate sector will always be there.
In the future, the growth of the corporate sector in Nigeria will only be limited to the growth of the economy, so there is a bit of saturation in the existing corporate sector, and therefore it is only when corporate sector runs with new companies opening, and the existing once doing better that you will see a larger role. That role will always be there no matter what, but I suspect that the role will be dwarfed by the speed and growth of the other channels, which will be the retail business because it is coming around the corner. Retail business is going to be enhanced by the use of technology and where brokers need to look at is how to be relevant in the new market that is going to explode. So it could be relevant that brokers starts to arrange technology platform, after all entities that are not brokers are arranging technology platforms for insurance. So why brokers can’t also be involved in doing that because we have an added advantage over them because those people don’t know anything about insurance. So, you are going to see a lot of that.
But importantly, people have to be prepared for the unknown and the organizations must be right on their feet also to anticipate that there are going to be issue of regulation. Regulation is going to come and it is going to surprise us more and more because regulation is even trying to catch up with what is happening. So, if you ask me, as you have done, l will say that the future is extremely bright for insurance brokers, but there is going to be an effort to be made in terms of ingenuity and creativity to be part of the new future.
How do you intend to direct your members to take the retail business more seriously?
I keep coming back to it but at the national insurance conference earlier this year we invited an important speaker “Tony Elumelu” and he told us one thing among many things he mentioned, that capital goes to where it is welcomed, and that is very instructive and you can see it in many areas. If there is money in a particular area and people can see it, they will move into that business. If brokers are not moving into retail it is because they are not seeing money in it, some of them are trying but they are burning their fingers, they run around spending money getting agents and they are not getting enough money to pay their expenses. So, the main issue we are going to find is that if you have a medium that makes money you will see people spend their time going in there, but we haven’t even seen that in retail. So, I think the main issue like I said is creativity, and I believe strongly that technology is going to be what will open doors to that area and if you look at the success stories that you have, whether it is in Kenya or in other areas or countries, you will see technology playing a significant role in retail.
With introduction of technology by many underwriting companies, do you think that insurance brokers still have a job?
Well, I understand where that thinking is coming from because I can see that there is a channel that seems not to have encouraged the broker’s participation on that. It has been raised at the national insurance conference where we had an open forum with all the parties there including the commissioner himself and the brokers were also able to respond.
The outgoing president has responded to some of the things and I believe that, the commissioner also made his point there as well. I think what he was trying to say is that if it is true that this particular channel being created has not encouraged brokers on that platform which is what we also pointing at, it is not the only channel. It doesn’t mean that you can’t create retail channel as well. So, i try not to see things from a negative perspective, but look at opportunity that arise from every situation and make good use of it.
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