Ferrying FAIR to the New World

This 25th FAIR Conference has a punchy yet ambitious theme of “Insurance Transformation”. Can FAIR seize the challenge to make that leap to be a global force? Can it reach greater heights in line with the FAIR markets accounting for almost 20% of global premium pie?

FAIR still has more political mileage and clout than actual business on the ground, though the three FAIR Pools and one Syndicate together account for a significant figure of just less than half a billion dollars in premium.

The float of political goodwill
FAIR has wide appeal. Each biennial conference still draws in the numbers, attesting the importance attached to FAIR be it in Asia, the Middle East or Africa. This year, despite the regional and global geopolitical tensions and the tough business environment, some 800 delegates will turn up in Bahrain. Interestingly in its 53 year-history, this is the first time that a FAIR Conference is being held in a GCC market where Secretary General Adel Mounir says almost 50% of FAIR members are from the Arab World – another draw for this FAIR.

FAIR has tradition, culture, and diversity. Aside from its obvious advantages – the power of meeting and networking – the real belief in FAIR is the cardinal quest for effective regional co-operation even in the era of globalisation. The various Pools and Syndicate are concrete achievements of that golden FAIR dream that one day the FAIR markets representing more than two thirds of the world’s population will actually come together to be a force to be reckoned with in any insurance arena.

Will it happen? Will transformation take place? What will be the catalyst for this big leap? Is technology the answer? Can FAIR ride the tiger of disruptive innovation to make heads turn?

The tech speed boat
Insurance, being data-intensive and data-sensitive, has been a natural draw to technology that has the means to make sense of Big Data and to even use these data to teach machines. From disruptors, InsurTech start-ups are evolving to be essential complementary partners to insurance. But unlike start-ups that can jump in to make changes whimsically, established firms have massive legacy issues, and they cannot make lemonade of their business with one squeeze.

So how can FAIR come in to help the members? Can FAIR serve as the trusted common supporting services hub for its members where data can be exchanged and used freely? Can FAIR provide the vital security and checks needed to protect data? Can they keep the hackers away?

In technology, the regional grouping will get global. Technology knows no barriers, and it is unstoppable.

The new Uber drivers
As always there are more questions than answers, but they set the direction for the winds to blow when one seeks transformation. FAIR, with its tech-savvy young workforce, perhaps already has the necessary talent to start this drive to digital transformation. Invest in new talent, and let them lead.

Though the journey is long, perhaps in Bahrain, marking FAIR’s 25th Conference, the Federation should take a pledge to get a leader to spearhead the “transformation”. Any takers?

The real appeal: Dollars and cents
At the end of the day, the real appeal of FAIR is the reality that there is business to be exchanged and money to be made. There must be awareness that there is an advantage going the FAIR-way be it through business exchanges or training. Membership must have real privileges that members need and want. Joining FAIR is for mutual rewards and not just to be part of the grouping as a CSR in the name of helping the regions.

Lastly, doing it the FAIR-way must be able to stand up to world standards too.

That is what the transformation should be about. FAIR is still growing: 10% growth this year to a presence in 53 markets says the Sec-Gen. So land ahoy!

Regulatory challenges in FAIR-Land

By Paul McNamara

The burden of compliance and the complexity of regulations is growing very rapidly, said Dr Kai-Uwe Schanz, Chairman and Founding Partner of Dr Schanz, Alms & Company AG and Member of the Board of Directors, Trust Re. Dr Schanz chaired the first Plenary Session on regulatory dynamics.

Risk-based solvency implementation a challenge
It would be a big challenge for the Indian insurance industry to move to a risk-based solvency regime, said Mr P J Joseph, Member (non-life), IRDAI. Risk management in India is very different compared to that of other insurance markets, he said. This is especially true for the recently introduced crop insurance scheme.

Another major challenge is that though the infrastructure and other industries are growing, insurance penetration is a growing but not at the desired pace. There is still a large challenge as far as the protection gap is concerned. The only consolation is that insurance coverage is certainly growing through several government-sponsored insurance schemes in both life and non-life categories.

Strong mechanism for protection of policyholders’ interest
The next panelist Mr Hassan Boubrik, President, Supervisory Authority of Insurance and Social Welfare (ACAPS) of Morocco said while the Kingdom has made significant progress in the spread of insurance awareness, it still faces three major challenges. These include the implementation of risk-based solvency regime, development of a strong mechanism for protection of policyholders’ interest, and the overall growth of the Moroccan insurance market.

Mr Boubrik said ACAPS lays tremendous importance on corporate governance, customer interest protection and public disclosure regulations.

Challenge in enforcing regulations
Ms Grace Mohamed, General Manager Insurance, The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority, said that her country has two major challeges in the form of transition to risk-based solvency regime and how best to bring about consistency in the enforcement of regulations for various financial institutions.

Balancing the interests of policyholders and insurers
Next panelist, Mr Arup Chatterjee, Principal Financial Sector Specialist, Asian Development Bank, Philippines, spoke about the regulatory environment becoming complex and the regulators coming under tremendous pressure to not only protect the policyholders’ interest, but also to ensure the health of the insurers and improve penetration.

Mr Chatterjee mentioned that nowadays the tendency is to shift the risk from the government to the insurers. Though risk management has evolved and is evolving across the globe, much more needs to be done in this area.

He said the area of talent development for the insurance industry has not received the desired attention, and there should be an urgency in this regard on the part of all stakeholders to ensure that talent development is given the top priority.

Need for access to the vulnerable sections of society
The last panelist Mr Oscar Verlinden, Advisor-Access to Insurance Initiative, emphasised the need for providing access to insurance for the most vulnerable sections of society. Mr Verlinden said there should be a mechanism to ensure this.

Meet The Team

Editor-in-Chief: Sivam Subramaniam
General Manager Business Development: Sheela Suppiah-Raj
Editorial team: Osama Noor, Jimmy John, Anoop Khanna, Cynthia Ang
Business Development Team: Koh Earn Chor, Junaid Farid Khan
Design & Layout: Charles Chau, Jerick Yu