Dare to Believe & Aspire
INSURANCE interviewed the Winner of the Young Takaful Managers Award 2013, Fauzul Nizam Mohamed Zain, Senior Manager – Agency Development, AIA AFG Takaful Bhd about his aspirations and achievements in the takaful industry.
The Winner of the Young Takaful Managers Award 2013, Fauzul Nizam Mohamed Zain, talks about his aspirations and achievements in the takaful industry.
On Winning the Award
Fauzul felt happy and honoured to have won the award as it was not merely a personal achievement but also a recognition of AIA AFG Takaful Bhd’s contribution to the industry. AIA AFG Takaful is relatively new as the company was launched about three years ago. In that short time, the company has grown to be among the Top 5 players in the industry. Fauzul attributes this achievement to good team work.
Personal Achievements & Contribution to the Takaful Industry
Fauzul’s experience in the insurance industry spans about eight years. He was involved in conventional insurance in the first two years and subsequently moved to the takaful industry. During his early days in the industry, he recounted how he was part of a team, which was tasked with converting the conventional salaried staff operating on a commission system (mudharabah) into a three-tier agency system. When Fauzul and his team assessed the conventional system, they realised that it was very costly to the company and this system also stifled the company’s potential for expansion. This was the reason for Fauzul and his team to introduce the three-tier agency system which follows Bank Negara Malaysia’s guideline. According to Fauzul, many top insurers have adopted this system successfully, including AIA. The three-tier system is purely commissionbased. It views members of the sales team as business partners. As entrepreneurs and business partners, they are eager to invest in their business, set up an office premise for operations and thereby, expand their business. This model is practical especially for those located outside the city area i.e. in smaller towns such as Kuala Terengganu or Kertih. In AIA AFG Takaful, the directive was to set up a direct marketing team, where telemarketers sell family takaful products via the telephone. A few major telcos have been engaged and arrangements made to enable both parties to benefit from this exercise. According to Fauzul, not many takaful companies have ventured into direct marketing because the set up is rather expensive. In AIA AFG Takaful, telemarketing is one of the major revenue contributors. The idea of telemarketing is to explore different approaches to reach customers and the products that are sold in this manner are also competitively priced.
Contribution to the Takaful Industry
Fauzul is also actively involved in the development of the local takaful industry through his participation as a member of the Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA). In MTA, he
contributed to the setting up of the Takaful Basic Examination (TBE), a joint effort by MTA, The Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) and the Islamic Banking & Finance Malaysia (IBFIM). He said, “I was with a team that developed the module and moderated the questionnaire. We have also tied up with the Open University, which manages the online registrations and computerisation of the examination. Participants are offered an e-module where they can study at their own pace and take the examination when they are ready.” In MTA, Fauzul is also involved in the Learning and Development Committee. The mandate in this committee is mainly to promote the knowledge and awareness about takaful. Part of the initiative the committee has carried out includes the student internship programme with selected university, namely, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniZAR) this is an Islamic university in Kuala Terengganu and also, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) located in Nilai. On 16 April 2013, a third university came on board which is Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). In total, three universities are providing the internship programme. The local takaful industry has grown significantly since 2006. However, there is a shortage of talents in the takaful industry hence MTA’s aim of launching education, awareness and promotional courses to expose and encourage young graduates’ participation in its internship programmes. Additionally, the Learning and Development Committee also donates takaful literature to higher education institutions’ libraries so that students can use them for thesis reference and further their education about takaful. This endeavour is to change the general public’s perception about takaful agents and to view them as professional consultants. Aside from education endeavours, Fauzul is also involved in the organising committee that works in collaboration with MII and IBFIM to host the annual Takaful Agent Conference. This initiative is to provide continual professional updates and support to existing takaful agents. This conference enables agents to keep abreast with the latest market trends and development nationwide as well as globally.
Takaful Industry Initiatives
Fauzul was asked what he would like to see the takaful industry do more for itself. He said, “To me, I feel the takaful industry needs to promote a sense of unity among the players. This can be in many forms in terms of engagement and education to public.” He pointed out, “In fact, the industry can come out with a common product, similar to Bijak Malaysia that was developed by LIAM. The takaful industry can also develop something similar where all companies can have one similar product. Currently, there are only about 11 to 12 players and I think this is a good ground to start something like this.”
The Qualities of a Respectful Takaful Leader
Fauzul admires his superior, the CEO of AIA AFG Takaful Bhd, as he personifies a respectful leader. Fauzul also believes that integrity is a given in this career and line of business. However, going beyond that, he believes that today’s leaders must engage with the people. He observes that modern leaders keep people in touch with their plans. They do not isolate themselves or seem unapproachable. Such modern leaders have the ability to encourage his or her people to become more aware and alert, and help them understand what people are fighting for. At the moment, AIA and ING are going through a huge integration process. It is rare in Fauzul’s opinion to see two huge giants going through an integration process. In fact, there is much to learn for everyone at all levels of the organisation. Even his CEO, who has been in the industry for over 20 years, says that he is learning from this experience. Fauzul said, “In the near future, if AIA AFG Takaful Bhd becomes a big force in the market, I will be very proud as I feel I am making history. I feel a sense of belonging and I can attest to the fact that I was involved in the entire process from start to finish.”
Words of Encouragement to Peers in the Takaful Industry
He would like to congratulate his peers for being part of the takaful industry. This is significant because in Malaysia, there are about 66,000 agents and the industry has been growing at double digits annually. It is a great place to be in now and takaful is no longer perceived as old-fashioned.
Words of Encouragement to Young Takaful Agents
Through his journey in the world of insurance, Fauzul learnt that there is always an opportunity for growth. He encourages young takaful agents to be open minded but he also cautions them as well saying that, “sometimes the very reason for our success can also be the same reason for us to become complacent.” He believes that anything is possible as long as people maintain dynamism and innovation. He also believes that young people today need to be versatile and be accepting of change. Fauzul said, “I used to believe in life we need to make sacrifices. But I observed today’s CEOs are very successful in their career, their private and social life. So, there is no reason for us to be unsuccessful in many areas of our lives. I believe that the people who have the most flexibility, have the most control.”