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Oct 2020

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Prepared for the long haul

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Aug 2020

It is imperative to have an agile business model, optimise costs and engage deeper with clients to emerge stronger.
Sameer Yogishwar, CEO, HDFC International Life & Re 
 
 
The world has witnessed and survived several crises. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is one pivotal moment in history that brought the entire world to an abrupt standstill. It has given us completely new perspectives on navigating life and conducting business.
 
With the whole world in turmoil, it is easy for organisations to become inward focused and switch gears to survival mode. However, at HDFC International Life & Re, we believe that in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is important to stay focused both inwards and outwards. It is imperative to have an agile business model, optimise costs and engage deeper with clients to emerge stronger.
 
Test business resilience continuously
As a young organisation, we adapted to the situation with agility and foresight. The team efficiently transitioned into a mandatory work-from-home set-up within a week of WHO declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. Despite the financial year end inching to close on 31 March 2020, we prioritised the health and safety of our employees and thus acted accordingly. We completed our year-end audits, board meetings and other important activities fully via the virtual mode. We successfully closed the financial year, delivering strong results with high double-digit year-on-year growth in GWP and net operating profits. 
 
Optimise financial variables
With the pandemic impacting our lives and businesses, we have redefined focus areas for the new financial year, and have implemented a number of stress tests to model scenarios to fine-tune our financial variables to optimise costs while delivering maximum value. As reinsurers, we understand the challenges and opportunities that this pandemic presents to our cedants and partners. 
 
We are focused on building stronger relationships during this period and leveraging our digital reinsurance solutions to stand differentiated in the GCC and MENA life reinsurance space. We are thus constantly engaging with our clients to understand their needs and to empower them with innovative risk solutions and technology to win in these challenging times. 
 
Understand client needs early on
The COVID-19 crisis around the world has strongly reinforced the importance of life insurance, both from a pure protection, as well as an investment point of view. This gives us an opportunity to educate clients and facilitate the availability of customised reinsurance solutions globally.
 
Go digital – innovate for efficiencies
Developing digital solutions for our employees and partners long before the crisis hit the world enabled us to maximise efficiencies without disruptions during these unprecedented times. Our investment in digital solutions over the years will be fully leveraged now.
 
Have a plan for the next phase
When the terrain is trickier than usual, prognostication on what is likely to come after COVID-19 will eventually stand testimony to the strength and resilience of the organisation. Two plausible outcomes – delayed recovery and prolonged contraction – are considered in our pandemic risk management strategy. Still in early days of witnessing model outcomes, these two themes are likely to remain central to our portfolio of risk actions for some time. The risk response to the crisis needs speed and discipline to shape the risk strategy maturity curve. 
 
The road ahead
We are confident of moving forward, committed to serving the region with more vigour and constant collaboration with the DFSA and DIFC. The vigilance and efforts by the DFSA and DIFC to combat this pandemic have been commendable, enabling the DIFC community to remain optimistic in these unprecedented times. 
 
We believe that reinsurance has never before been more relevant than now and are extremely optimistic about our strategic growth plans for the near to medium term. We are focused on delivering another year of strong performance and are prepared for the long haul. M 
 
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