Transformation top priority, says insurance committee
The committee said that in order to ensure a consistent approach to this challenge the industry established a Short Term Insurance Human Capital Development (HCD) steering committee late in 2012, which has widespread backing from member representative bodies, insurance accreditation institutions and the regulator as well as the insurers, re-insurers, UMAs and brokerages that make up the short term insurance industry.
The Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA), the South African Insurance Association (SAIA), the Insurance Institute of South Africa (IISA) and the South African Underwriting Managers' Association (SAUMA) are participating in the initiative with support from the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) and the Financial Services Board (FSB).
"The education, up-skilling and continuous professional development of individuals within the industry combined with programmes to encourage new entrants to the sector are seen as critical for its ongoing success," says David Harpur, CEO of the IISA and chairperson of the HCD steering committee.
He added that the industry's core capability to provide risk management expertise and customer satisfaction within the broking, underwriting, claims, reinsurance and supply chain environment s is driven by the professional standards it practices.
"The primary focus of the HCD steering committee is to oversee and drive the professional standards of the industry as well as analyse and align the various curricula offered by training institutions with a list of critical and scarce skills in the industry,"; he said. "We have already agreed on five objectives to address the professionalism and education standards requirement."
To develop a set of professional standards which industry CEOs can sign as a committed indication of their intent to drive professionalism across the industry;
To establish the facts regarding scarce and critical skills in the short
To analyse the gaps in curriculum content against critical and scarce skills in the industry;
To create an overarching "new entrants methodology" to attract the youth of SA to a career in short term insurance; and
To formulate a profile of the short-term insurance industry in order to identify and benchmark scarce and critical skills, professional standards and transformation achievements.
The committee said it will work on an inclusive basis with the wider industry to achieve these jointly-set goals to the ultimate benefit of all employees and employers across the sector. Given its wide scope, the committee formed four sub-committees tasked with Research, Qualifications, Declaration and Transformation.
Its Research sub-committee will conduct an extensive survey to determine the state of the industry which will then be used to chart a course for its long term sustainability. INSETA has already come on board with funding to support the survey and results are expected by April 2014.
Members of the Qualifications sub-committee will conduct an audit of qualifications relevant to the industry while the Declaration sub-committee is assigned the difficult task of penning a declaration that firms throughout the short term insurance sector can sign. This declaration will commit firms to the "human capital development"cause.
However, the committee pointed out that, by far the most important item on its agenda of the HCD steering committee, is the transformation of the industry. "Transformation within the sector in terms of race, background, disability and gender must be visibly evident to all stakeholders within our value chain," says Harpur. "The Transformation sub-committee, established in January 2013, comprises individuals with the necessary passion and expertise from SAIA member companies in the short-term environment."
The sub-committee is tasked with:
Identifying how industry collaboration can drive the development of black brokers;
Investigating an industry-wide leadership development programme with the aim to accelerate transformation in both middle management and senior management positions;
Investigating a program that will enable transformation across specialised areas of work;
Establishing a program to attract the youth to the short term insurance sector; and
Addressing how the industry supports human capital development that would encourage access to insurance by the poor.
"The Human Capital Development project will oversee the design and implementation of strategically driven actions that the industry has to take to promote professional standards, development of scarce and critical skills, sustainability and transformation," concludes Harpur.
"These actions will lead to improvements in market practices throughout the sector and ensure that our industry performs in terms of race, disability, and gender. All present at our steering committee meetings would love this process to culminate with industry stakeholders signing a declaration or accord in which they commit to the industry and the dual goals of professional standards and transformation."