In­spi­ra­tional In­ter­views

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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.”

Khadijah Ab­dul­lah Edi­tor in­sur­anceed­i­

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