The world is seeing a tremendous flux of activities as the chaos, haze (in Southeast Asia) and confusion become the new norm – made worse by fake news and unfounded speculation at the highest levels.
Yet the real search for excellence and sustainability in the face of daring or disruptive technology continues. Our cover story this month takes a look at the talent search in the Middle East and how to nurture that talent found. At the end of the day, despite all the tech going into the business operations and directives, insurance is very much still a people-driven business, for better or for good, though the risks are getting more complex and complicated, too.
It is heartening to see market leaders looking at new and creative approaches to recruit, nurture and retain young talent to ensure the sustainability of the sector.
The FAIR conference in Marrakech in September, with its emphatic focus on finding definite workable solutions to the new economic barriers in Afro-Asian insurance markets, did offer some food for thought and action. However, most of the 800-odd delegates were distracted by the pull of business negotiations with the 2020 renewals underway post-Monte Carlo. The Middle East accounts for just a tiny share of the $600bn capital in the global reinsurance market, but it still does draw a good number of global and mid-sized reinsurers along with the various home-grown, revitalised local reinsurers.
Our country profile this month is on Egypt, a market where the insurance federation and regulator are seen as making important contributions to change the fate of the industry.
Elsewhere, the regulatory landscape is changing as technology becomes very entrenched in the business. The rise of aggregators with the stress on price comparison is a tough call that needs greater vigilance. In insurance, the terms and conditions in small print are just as crucial, if not more, to the straight vanilla covers on offer. The reputation of the insurer as a good claims settler is vital to the image of insurance, and in turn, to the sustainability of the industry.
Equally, regulatory focus is shifting to ensure better corporate governance, compliance and internal risk management systems and strategies.
With our annual Takaful Rendezvous in Kuala Lumpur this month, we look at the big question as to whether there are already just too many takaful operators in the GCC, given the flat growth and declining profitability. Is consolidation in the air or will it need regulatory guidance? And to stimulate tech-savvy innovation, we also explore the lure and feasibility of offering parametric solutions in a shariah-compliant way.
October is also the month when the judges of the 6th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards meet to select the winners among the 45 finalists for the various categories. The competition is stiff given the pride and prestige that the weight of the victory carries.
I congratulate all the finalists for having an important narrative to convince the judges to get this far and look forward to welcoming all of you at our Gala Awards Dinner in November.
Middle East Insurance Review