Arjun Malik is the chief executive officer of the London-based Prudential Assurance Uganda Ltd. He spoke to The Independent’s Ian Katusiime about the country’s insurance industry and the company’s performance so far.
Walk us through your management ethos as CEO
I don’t believe in micro-managing people. I like making sure you hire the right people and give them opportunity to take ownership of what they have signed up for. Give them objectives and make sure you can offer lessons and guidance when they need them but not interfering in their minutiae of their day to day work.
You recently launched Prudollar, how would you assess its performance so far?
This product was launched a few weeks ago and it has been doing very well. There has been no similar product in the market and our assessment over the last few years reveals a demand among the population for a product that manages to hedge against any potential currency devaluation which is in effect a hedge against inflation. There are many professionals who earn in dollars and even if they do not, nothing should prevent them from saving in dollars or in Prudential’s view, investing in a currency of their own choice. Feedback has been positive and sales have been more than satisfactory.
Prudential has been in Uganda for two years now. How would you assess the insurance industry here?
The Insurance industry here is very young, with insurance penetration on the life side less than 1%. We feel this represents an immense opportunity for large providers of quality insurance services given the fact that the market is evolving, and improving incomes per capita pushes the population to protect itself from any eventualities. So there are immense growth opportunities and that is the reason we are here building a long term business.
Insurance firms have stuck with this image as predatory-firms out there to fleece people. Why does this image persist?
I think it is a misrepresentation. There have certainly been providers who are not of quality in the past. But if you look at the statistics from Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), the increase in claims paid in 2016 compared to 2015 indicate a nearly 100% jump. The statistics bear out the fact that as the industry grows, number of claims that have been paid out are increasing. That is not to say there have not been firms of disrepute which have fleeced people. If there are such firms however, it should be the responsibility of the industry and the regulator to identify and weed them out. What we are doing is sacrosanct; we are providing advice and guaranteeing the future of Ugandan families.
Prudential has been operating since 1848 honouring claims and ad keeping promises whether it was in First World War or Second World War or when the Titanic sunk or more recently paying claims to customers. Dishonouring a valid claim is something we would never do. And as the industry grows, more participants with integrity will benefit the Ugandan consumer.