We have two inspiring interviews in this issue. The first interview is with a lady who is destined to become an icon for insurance sales. Jenny Yeoh started off as a nurse in Penang and has now risen to become the very first woman to be chairperson of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) in Malaysia. In the interview, her parting advice to both agents and clients gets to the root of insurance sales: “For agents, be diligent; always care with a sincere heart to protect more and more people every year. For clients; do not take life for granted, save now before it is too late.” If agents always keep this very sincere advice in mind, they will be able to relate to clients at a very human level and success will always follow.
The second is with the winner of the Young Takaful Managers Award 2013, Fauzul Nizam Mohamed Zain, Senior Manager – Agency Development, AIA AFG Takaful Bhd. He talks about his aspirations and achievements in the takaful industry. He has an adventurous spirit and he was obviously well chosen for his company’s venture into new areas of marketing. Fauzal was instrumental in his company’s foray into direct sales through telemarketing. According to Fauzul, not many takaful companies have ventured into direct marketing because of the set-up costs. However, in AIA AFG Takaful, telemarketing is one of the major revenue contributors. What is inspiring about Fauzul is that he also finds time to devote to developing the Takaful industry. He is very involved with the Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) and was part of the team that set up the Basic Takaful Examination. This was a joint effort by MTA, The Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) and Islamic Banking & Finance Malaysia (IBFIM).
Both our interviews are with people destined to become significant leaders in the insurance and takaful industries. They enter into leadership, however, when the very term is changing in its connotations in business. In the article Successful Business Leadership, Lee Duncan points out that “leadership does not always need to go hand in hand with management, but for the vast majority of businesses, you can't afford a separate leader from your managers.” For these managers, leadership has to be an acquired skillset. If leadership skills are not mastered, the consequences are dire. According to Lee, “as a leader you get your authority as one side of an exchange, but if you fail to deliver the goods and don't live up to your staff's expectations, they will reward you by performing like drunken slugs.”
In our focus on medical insurance, Dr. Williem Hoesen argues that in this product segment, marketing techniques need to be more aligned to the online expectations of consumers. In Common Sense Innovation for Marketing Health Insurance Strategies, Dr. Hoesen says, “Most of the time the technology based communication platform is used to respond to consumers’ feedbacks. It will be a better use of the technology if it could facilitate pro-active and interactive engagements with consumers.” The core message is to urge us as insurers to hear what stakeholders are saying and then act accordingly and align our industry to the requirements of our business environment.
Pandemics are an ever-present possibility that can heavily impact medical insurers. Whilst improved public health systems and contingency plans by governments have meant that the risk of pandemics on the scale of the Spanish flu pandemic that killed 50 million people in 1918 is reducing; however, other factors increase the risks. Mainly the increased volume of both domestic and international travel has increased the risk of pandemics. Nitin Dixit also points out in his article on the 21st century’s pandemics that “there is an increasing threat of global pandemic with the increasing number of new mutant viruses that were never seen before.”
On the technical developments side, we have an article by Rafiz Azuan Abdullah, General Manager – Insurance, Risk Assessment and Monitoring Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM). He explains the framework for the differential levy system, which has been long awaited. The purpose of the system is to “reduce risks to the financial system by providing incentives for sound risk management among our member institutions,” he explains. A similar system for banks which was introduced in 2008, had the desired results and it is hoped that the differential system in the insurance and takaful industries will be equally successful. According to Rafiz, “The DLS framework … is currently applicable only to conventional insurer members, whilst a framework for takaful operators is being designed to cater to new developments in the takaful operational landscape.”