Insurance brokers bracing for change


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Chuks Udo Okonta

Insurance broking seems to be on a way to prosperity if projections of the President, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Shola Tinubu, are implemented as planned.

On assumption of office, Tinubu, unveiled strategies that he believes will take the sector to lofty heights. Few months down the line, investigations revealed that he is matching his words with action, contrary to what was obtainable in the brokers house.

Tinubu’s first leap was taking the bold step to dismantle the structure that deprived the Executive Secretary (ES) who is at par as Director General in other establishments, his responsibilities of overseeing the day-to-day running go the institution. This he did by assuming a ceremonial Presidential role, where he only presides over council meetings as against his predecessors, who resumed early and closed late daily at the secretariat.

Inspenonline learnt that Tinubu’s decision to empower the secretariat, is already yielding sumptuous fruits as it has reduced the huge cost that were expended on his predecessors. One of the areas of cost reduction, it was learnt, was the maintenance of the vehicle used by his predecessors as he chose to use his own vehicle. As at the last visit to the secretariat, the vehicle was parked in the lot allotted to the President. Also, expenses on entertainment and daily maintenance of the president office have been stemmed.

More so, the tape rule of bureaucratic had been eliminated, as the secretariat runs its affairs in line with stipulated rules without much interruptions.

Our interaction with the staff revealed that they were happy with the new dawn at the secretariat. Some of them who spoke with this medium, said the new administration has brought back life and light to the secretariat, adding that they are now motivated to perform their duties. They noted that by the time the president is celebrating 100 days in office, much would have been recorded by his administration.

Unveiling his plans Tinubu said: “As we are all aware, there could never be a sustainable development in any organisation without a strong institution put in place. This regime would stop at nothing to ensure that the Secretariat, under the Executive Secretary, takes its focal position as the face of the Council and its membership.

“In doing this, members would be able to relate as equals, having in mind that they have a neutral arbiter in the Secretariat. Whilst realising that this is a herculearn task, we are poised to give required impetus to the Secretariat in the area of staff training and retraining, in order to enhance their morale and imbue in them the wherewithal to effectively serve members with utmost competence. This team will unselfishly devote ample time to training and development of the secretariat staff to drive value for members.”

On succession plan for the leadership of the broking fraternity, he said: “I am most delighted to note that policy and thrusts to be implemented by this administration already has the buy-in of Past President and leadership, based on their active involvement and input.

“The intention of this administration is to bequeath a 10-year development plan to the Council that will outlive the tenures of more than five Presidents. This is based on the conviction that for any institution to develop, it must have sustainable plans and goals that would subsist over time. I promise that this team will hit the ground running with this, and with the support of all, we shall succeed.”

He noted that since the insurance industry is a composite industry, the NCRIB will continue to advance positive collaboration with such bodies as the NIA, the CIIN and ILAN. While sustaining the tempo of technical relations with the NIA, it shall through the Association encourage underwriters to always see the sense in patronizing only current members of the NCRIB for credibility.

If at all, the underwriters would transact business with other “intermediaries”, there must be a difference in commission rates and other benefits to justify the remarkable differentiation in their competencies and experience. The Council will also identify and pursue areas of relationship to the mutual benefits of the NCRIB and ILAN,” he added.

He said the bodies relationship with the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) will be a cooperative and progressive one, in order to create a more harmonious professional and business environment for our members.

According to him, his had led a team of the Council on a courtesy visit to the Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari in Abuja, where issues such as the yearly renewal of members’ license, were discussed. Adding that NAICOM had assured that the issue is being looked into.

He said other issue discussed include, timely response to mails, both by NAICOM and Brokers to ensure that issues were resolved timeously were highlighted, collaboration by the two bodies in training of Brokers, particularly in regulatory compliance to mitigate fees and penalties often slammed on them was extensively discussed. “It is my desire that we continue to parley NAICOM for our members and continually put in place internally strategies to promote self-regulation by the Council. We greatly covet the support of all members in this regards. Our slogan is: SELF REGULATION FOR SELF RESPECT,” he said.

He said his team would assiduously work on effective collaboration with the relevant publics /stakeholders, especially those whose activities have significant impact on the operations and image of the Broker, stressing that NCRIB Corporate membership of reputable trade and bilateral business and professional bodies will be a priority.

“Similarly, we shall break the ice ceiling by taking proactive steps in relating with, and advising government institutions on policy issues that comes within the ambit of our professional competence. Enough of the Council’s lay back when it comes to advocacy and making proactive input into policy issues that may affect the profession and national economy,” he posited.

According to him, if there is anything that has occupied the minds of many members of the Council for a while now, it is how the NCRIB could accelerate its value rendition to members. “I like to note that the agitation of members in this regard was not wrongly placed, considering the challenges they face on all ends, necessitating immediate collective solution from the Council.

“In addressing this, ourteam would be quite strategic in first identifying in clear terms the immediate and future challenges threatening Brokers. On the immediate, we shall deploy strategies to engage besetting problems such as captive agency network; direct marketing, quackery, unfriendly legislations, as well as the impact of technology on our practice.

“With an all-inclusive administration, we shall take time to provide opportunities for resourceful members to serve on committees of the Council, based on the criteria of availability, resourcefulness, experience, competence and ethical values. Some standing committees of the Council have been rejigged to give more pragmatic results that will change the narrative of the Council and the Broking industry,” he maintained.

Tinubu, who did not totally submit to the one way approach to seeking knowledge in foreign climes, promised that his Council will firm up relationship with strategic international insurance bodies, such as BIBA and the AIO, in order to continually enjoy the benefits of skills enhancement and improved performance for members. “But in doing this, the Council will demand for reciprocity in its relationship with those bodies. We shall not only go to the foreign shores to acquire knowledge, but also encourage exchange visits from such bodies to our country, to give a larger percentage of our members the opportunity to benefit from such resource persons and take advantage for the enhancement of their businesses,” he added.

He pledged to raise the image of the broking profession, adding that it is pointless to rehash the fact that the Insurance Broker and his services are not sufficiently appreciated by members of the public.

He noted that despite broking being the only professional in the insurance value chain, the perception of him or public understanding of his functions are quite appalling.

In solving this challenge, he said his team would adopt a two pronged approach of examining and improving on those traits found repulsive in the professionals themselves, after which concerted attempts would be made to improve his public image.

He said his administration shall attempt to carve a niche for the Broker as a trustworthy ally in the insurance value chain by increasing their value proposition and respectability, stressing that in doing these, his team shall be futuristic by borrowing significantly from other climes, like the UK for instance, where commercial insurance broking market looks forward ten years on how brokers will adapt and change to be relevant and successful as far as 2018.

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