Comment by Peter Jennett, CEO, Centriq Insurance
‘Surround yourself with the right people and allow them to make decisions,’ is one of the leadership philosophies that Peter Jennett, chief executive officer of Centriq Insurance feels strongly about.
Going forward, this approach, Jennett believes, will serve Centriq well. The specialist insurer is busy evolving from a small to medium sized insurance company in the cell captive, underwriting management, affinity/alternative distribution and risk finance space. This requires not just good market intelligence and teamwork, but in-depth knowledge, talent and skills. “As such, it is important for our staff to not just be comfortable with the decisions they make and the approach they take but to develop themselves with the company.”
Underwriting, particularly disciplined underwriting, Jennett believes, is imperative to the insurance industry’s future success. “It plays an integral role in not just the pricing of risk, but how risks are protected and the quality of disclosure at the time that a risk incepts.”
A simple example is the now limited ability of Cape Town clients to mitigate i.e. fire risks via their sprinkler systems due to the water shortage currently experienced in the city and wider region.
As insurance service providers, we need to ensure that customers have certainty of cover. “The risk in a challenging environment is that clients start looking for the cheapest cover regardless of the terms, conditions and risk requirements imposed. Clients, brokers and insurers have a responsibility to ensure that full disclosure is made and that all parties are aware of what is being covered so that insurance can respond as it is meant to respond.”
Jennett says it appears to be too easy for South African risks to be placed directly into the international market at what are clearly unsustainable rates. “I understand the economic pressures that drive some of this behaviour, but I am not convinced that it is good for our economy in the long run. We want to access world insurance markets only where it is really necessary, and promote our local insurance industry wherever possible.”
The reinsurance market, which picked up the bulk of the losses from the Knysna fires and Durban storms has taken considerable strain in 2017. “This will have a knock-on effect in 2018 as reinsurers quite rightfully continue to reassess who to support and on what basis. How this actually filters into the South African market next year, remains to be seen.”
In the South African insurance sector next year, Jennett would like to see more graduates employed in one role for longer periods of time. “We need to build real sustainable skills and I think insurance practitioners need to spend more time in one role getting real experience.”
Centriq itself is going to grow their intake of learners and graduates next year. “Without active involvement from business, the skills shortage in the industry will not take care of itself.”
This culture of people development, including Corporate Social Investment (CSI), has always been a part of Centriq. “We are a proud supporter of the Play with a Purpose Trust, which supports early childhood development, and will continue to contribute to their initiatives next year.”
Overall, Centriq will continue to aim for steady profitable growth. “We will be selective in terms of growth as I believe insurers need to proceed with caution in the current environment.
We will furthermore be focusing on doing the basics well, ensuring that our existing partners and clients are well looked after.”
LEADERSHIP AND OUTLOOK CONTRIBUTION