Blog articles

Tuesday, 05 November 2013

After months of preparation, finally the ICMIF World Conference is almost upon us. The ICMIF team is already here in Cape Town and we are looking forward to welcoming our delegates in a few days. Right now though the hotel and conference centre are buzzing with delegates for the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Conference which is taking place just before our own event. This is the first time ever that both ICMIF and the ICA are holding their global Conferences in Africa and we are delighted to play our part in bringing the cooperative and mutual sector to South Africa. We are also pleased that the arrangement allows some ICMIF...

Friday, 25 October 2013

What does a successful cooperative or mutual insurer look like? I’d suggest that there are five things it needs to do right.

Firstly, it needs to serve its members well by offering the right products at the right prices. It needs to reduce risk and pay claims quickly and equitably. It should be economically efficient and financially sustainable. It should execute its strategy effectively and its governance transparently. And finally, I’d suggest that it needs to invest wisely in its people, technology and systems.

The evidence, I’m pleased to say, points to the fact that cooperatives and mutuals are getting it right. ICMIF’s...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Thinking is something that we all do, it’s as natural as breathing, yet I have never seen one job description where the ability to think is a key activity! There are, of course, jobs that require such reflection and we embrace those thought leaders amongst us; we even celebrate them. Yet when the opportunity to do some thinking presents itself to most of us, then thinking is something that either gets squeezed in to or squeezed out of our schedules. To test this theory ask yourself; have you ever had someone who presented you with a problem and your response in needing to “think about it” is a way of putting them off? Thinking takes time...

Friday, 27 September 2013

The beginning of the month saw the annual Rendez-Vous De Septembre reinsurance gathering, traditionally the first major event of the reinsurance conference season that will see regular meetings of the reinsurance market between now and 1 January 2014, in locations as far apart as Baden-Baden, Beijing and Seattle.

Each year since 1957, senior management from brokers, insurers and reinsurers around the world have gathered in the Principality of Monaco, considered by many as neutral territory in the commercial clashes of the reinsurance market, as it has no indigenous insurance or reinsurance industry. This year discussions were...

Friday, 13 September 2013

I have been carrying around with me over the past few days some spare copies of a new ICMIF report Women in Leadership Positions which has just come off the press at ICMIF’s head office. The report is something of a first for ICMIF – and indeed for the insurance industry as a whole, I think - and I’m finding that it is already attracting considerable interest.

The report is based on a survey carried out earlier this year to which women CEOs of ICMIF member firms were invited to contribute. Some research into governance arrangements we did back in 2012 told us that women are taking a much more significant role in the senior...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Mutuality is a largely unknown concept in South Africa, even amongst English-speakers.  In fact, the local Afrikaans language (and people who have Afrikaans as home language are an important target market for PPS) does not even have an understandable way of explaining what a “mutual insurer” is.

My sense is that my organisation, PPS, grew to where it is today because of its superior life insurance, disability cover, critical illness and sickness benefit product range, with several unique elements that appeal to graduate professionals.  “Mutuals”, “friendly societies” and “cooperatives” are largely seen as either undifferentiated...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The last few months have been strong for me in terms of member engagement, either in terms of meeting the leaders of our member organizations face-to-face or by connecting with them through CEO telephone interviews. During this time I have spoken directly with over 80 ICMIF member organisations. One of the key threads that came through all the meetings was the importance for these leaders of setting and giving strategic direction to the business. There is a general market view that CEOs and senior managers spend too little time on strategic issues, with some commentators quoting as low as 1% of time being spent in this crucial area. I can...

Thursday, 01 August 2013

Just over a year ago, I was one of thousands of overseas visitors who flocked to Rio de Janeiro, a city best known for its beaches, but on this occasion many of us were there to fill its conference halls as it hosted Rio+20, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Alongside the main conference there were hundreds of associated events, including my destination event: the launch of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) at the International Insurance Society (IIS)’s annual conference. So why, amongst today’s apparent overload of sustainability frameworks, standards and conventions, is ICMIF involved in the PSI...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The last few months have been very intensive in terms of meeting with ICMIF member organisations. It has been both useful and very rewarding as I feel like I know much more about the key issues and challenges on the minds of those leading our member organisations; this, in turn, helps us at ICMIF provide our members with a more bespoke service from the Federation.

Part of my activity engaging with our members has taken the form of interviews with chief executives with over 45 completed since April 2013 (more on this and how we will use the information captured in the interviews will come in my blog next month). The other side has...

Friday, 05 July 2013

As cooperative (and indeed mutual) insurers we exist first-and-foremost to meet the needs of our members. The foundation of the cooperative business model is the seven cooperative principles, engrained in which is the concept of member engagement. Three of the cooperative principles are voluntary membership, economic participation and the underlying goal of further strengthening the cooperative movement and communities and you might think that the members of our organisations would be ready and willing to adopt these principles and act upon them. This would mean that a member engagement program need only provide them with the opportunity...

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