A Prime Opportunity
Focusing on strategic opportunities that will deliver value to the client is the need of the hour, according to Saad Eddine M. Dimachkie, CEO – ME Region, SIACI Insurance Brokers.
In a time when the Middle East is undergoing so many changes including the introduction of digital transformation, new regulations, a pandemic and the regulators encouraging consolidation within the insurance market, SIACI Insurance Brokers’ strategy seems like the right one. Saad Eddine M. Dimachkie, CEO for the Middle East region, spoke to Premium recently. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
After the expansion through the acquisition of Alpha Lloyd’s and Driesassur, what are the next plans for the region?
SIACI’s global strategy is to capitalise our expertise in the European market and expand internationally in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, hence the acquisition took place in the GCC and Africa. The Gulf, in specific and Africa’s economic growth has been instrumental in driving the insurance market, and with the trajectory of anticipated growth, it presents a prime opportunity for SIACI.
SIACI has already begun with the acquisition that has taken place in Africa where we have expanded by acquiring Olea, one of the largest Pan-African brokers. Similarly, this is what sparked the acquisition in the Middle East of Alpha Lloyd’s and Driesassur globally.
Are you looking at acquiring or partnering with more niche brokers in the region?
Yes, SIACI is always actively open to the idea of strategically acquiring potential partners in the region that will add value to our clients and achieve SIACI’s global plans on expanding into different markets.
Do you have any plans to widen your product portfolio or target segmentation?
Today’s insurance landscape is constantly shifting, and our decision whether to grow and build a particular offering is a bold undertaking. Balancing lines that might be underperforming with those that are projected for growth is where our years of international experience positions us to take these decisions wisely. We are not limited to specific industries. We adopt a more proactive approach driven by insights and expertise both regionally and globally.
What are your views on the insurance market in the UAE?
While the insurance market in the GCC offers a variety of brokers, we can confidently state that the quantity outweighs the quality in expert brokers and consultants.
Like many other industries, the UAE insurance market did take a hit in the in first half of 2020. However, we have been in a privileged position, with the impressive and impactful initiatives led by the leadership and health authorities of the UAE and wider GCC region in mitigating the social and economic impact of COVID 19. The market remains resilient. We have seen industrial and motor claims coverage reduce in the face of lockdowns and the pandemic has impacted consumer readiness to opt for life insurance and health cover.
SIACI’s local expertise and strong international network, underpinned by a digital-plus-human touch approach, leverages synergies to deliver the very best in value and service to its clients. We are reaping the rewards of our efforts, as we maintained a healthy client retention rate throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021.
With EXPO 2020 fast approaching, there is an undeniable ripe opportunity for growth across all industries and especially within the insurance realm. We have witnessed an extensive range of insurance products and services being curated to safeguard the event’s site and operations. EXPO 2020 is expected to host around 60 events per day, each with more than 200 participants, featuring cutting-edge technologies that have to be met with creative insurance solutions. The undertaking will see that emerging technologies such as flying vehicles or cooking robots be complimented with unique specifics. Property insurance and operations liability present yet another space for insurance providers to innovate and cover.
How is the policy keeping up with the changing needs of the policy holder?
At SIACI, we always think forward and provide our clients with the best terms, insurance cover and benefits that could cater for any potential risk, and we have been very proactive on that front.
We are committed to understanding our clients’ insurance needs and coverage requirements. In addition to our expertise, we utilise a suite of proprietary tools to monitor trends and make proactive recommendations to address their evolving needs, in the face of unforeseen crisis and economic headwinds. Our decision-making process extends beyond technical knowledge of the products and the markets, and leverages a deeper, holistic, data driven approach to our clients’ needs.
Do you believe the potential customer is still more comfortable with a face-to-face relationship with their broker, or has it changed with new technology? Do you see this across the many lines of business that your company handles?
The industry has witnessed a steep shift towards technology adoption however there is a majority of clients that prefer conventional transactions. We are taking both preferences into consideration and have adopted a hybrid model bridging the gap between a technology-based interface and human interaction, providing a perfect balance between humans and technology in insurance. SIACI continues to invest in the evolution of our technologies so that we continue to create operational efficiencies and deliver a stress-free seamless experience for our clients.
With the pandemic in context, how are the nature of enquiries for insurance changing? Is there any change in the business of insurance?
The reliance of businesses on technology to survive, is more pertinent than ever. We have seen this in all fronts of insurance needs from face-to-face visits at the doctor to virtual consultations. With many companies adapting to the new norm of working remotely, home is the center of the employee’s universe. The ever pressing need to protect organisations and their employees from the outside world (cyberspace). Over the past year, the market has seen a growing need for cyber insurance as a means of protecting organization’s data transactions from outside hacking. Loss of data, hardware protection and privacy and data violations are paramount areas of concern. In the digital age, value and convenience are viewed by companies as the driving factors for making purchasing decisions.