Human Capital Development
The recapitalization would also place all insurers at least on the same level playing field in terms capital base being the most important critical success factor. The second key critical success factor for an insurer is the availability of appropriate human capital (i.e. the crop of professionals with good change management and leadership skills). Thus, a company’s staff recruitment and training policy is crucial in the recapitalization era.
- Staff Recruitment and Training
The insurance industry is at the crossroad to recruit and retain a new crop of professionals in order to meet the new challenges that will face the insurance companies during the recapitalization era. A highly trained workforce (with innovative ideas, analytical and computer skills etc.) is also required for successful implementation of the new work culture (e.g. working remotely from home, social/physical distancing etc.) at the workplace being currently imposed by the covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to be maintained beyond post covid-19 pandemic
Thus, the importance of retraining of existing employees (e.g. CIIN qualified members) to bridge the skills gap in order to keep abreast with modern and international best business practices cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the insurers to have small functional libraries equipped with adequate study resources (e.g. CIIN study materials, basic and/or advanced Excel textbooks etc.) for self-training purpose. The Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) has recently restructured its curriculum in line with international best standards and the production of appropriate study textbooks to meet the new curriculum is a step in the right direction.
- Virtual Learning and Online CIIN Examinations
CIIN has the primary responsibility of catering for the manpower development needs of the Nigerian insurance industry. Covid-19 pandemic had made it impossible for CIIN to fulfil this importance duty i.e. the usual face-to-face learning process and conduct of professional examinations have been hampered as result of Covid-19 lockdown. There is still great uncertainty whether the industry will ever return back to status quo prior to covd-19. Thus, CIIN should be prepared to move forward by considering alternative ways in fulfilling its primary responsibility even beyond covid-19 pandemic.
As an alternative, virtual learning process and online CIIN Examinations could be introduced, as similar learning methods and examination process have been deployed successfully by some international professional bodies during the period of covid-19 lockdown. Although there are likely to be challenges in conducting such online professional examinations in Nigeria due to unreliable internet network connectivity, irregular electricity power supply, candidates without personal computers and/or typing skills etc. Despite these challenges, the online examinations could be conducted successfully, after careful planning process, particularly for the Foundation Courses to start with where the number of student enrolments may be high, using the following process:
1. Online examinations can be written by candidates in their respective companies using their office computers being set in a training or Board room. This would guarantee access to reliable internet connectivity, the supply of electricity power, availability of computers provided by employers and meeting the social/physical distancing requirements.
2. At least two qualified CIIN members in the company may be trained as invigilators to avoid possible cases of examination malpractices such as plagiarism, collusion etc.
3. At the start time of any examination, candidates will access the written examination paper from the CIIN online platform.
4. Answers will be typed if there is no provision for handwritten answers allowed for the particular examination. In this case, answers will be typed into either Word or Excel depending on the examination.
5. At the end of the examination the electronic ‘examination scripts’ will then be uploaded onto CIIN online platform.
6. A separate arrangement (i.e. using one examination hall) will be made in the CIIN office for the few very candidates without employers.
It is noteworthy that the insuring public and/or insurers are having the expectation that the regulator will soon provide appropriate regulatory guidelines, as moving forward to the recapitalization era, to address some of the challenges including the impact of covid-19 affecting the market development process in the Nigerian insurance industry, which may include but not limited to the following:
- Underwriting of covid-19 (coronavirus) life insurance cover since the insurance industry has recently provided the unusual group life insurance policy for covid-19 frontline heath workers.
- The current rules and regulations of insurance operations are conflicting with the digital system needed even in the covid-19 period e.g. physical signatures (often called “wet” signatures) rather than e-signatures are still required for most insurance contracts and/or agreements.
- Fast tracking the turnaround time of claims settlement which has always been a challenge over the years and a penalty on genuinely delayed claims.
The challenges from covid-19 had no doubt impacted on the recapitalization exercise leading to the recent extension of the deadline by the regulator. Therefore, the insurance industry stakeholders are expected to be prepared to manage the above challenges effectively to achieve the benefits of the recapitalization moving forward.