Brace for turbulent times, insurance sector warned

THE insurance sector in Zimbabwe has been warned to brace for turbulent times triggered by disruptive technologies, demographic shifts and dramatic changes in consumer aspirations among others.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI in VICTORIA FALLS

Giving a keynote address at the ongoing Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe (IIZ) annual conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, Pathways Africa founder and chief executive officer Joe Mutizwa said the sector would face serious operational challenges in the near future that needed a proactive approach.

The challenges, among others, include demographic shifts, dramatic changes in consumer aspirations, disruptive business models and technologies.

There is also volatility arising from the country’s operating environment such as political and economic scenarios, socio-psychological as well as regulatory environment.

“The greatest threat for the insurance industry will come from outside the existing boundaries of the industry. The question you need to ask is: what solutions do you provide and who else can provide them better?” Mutizwa asked.

He said companies should be resilient to overcome these imminent challenges by building resilience.

“Remember 2007 and 2008. Remember what happened? I am not saying that there will be a replay of 2007 and 2008; I’m saying there will be instabilities. They could come, but unless you have this resilience in your organisations, you are going to have major challenges,” Mutizwa said.

“If you have silos in your company, destroy them as quickly as you can. Destroy silos wherever they appear, streamline costs and flatten structures very rapidly before you get into serious trouble across the board.”

Mutizwa urged companies to increase integrity of their systems as a number of firms were caught flat-footed in 2007, as the systems could not cope with what was happening.

“The consequences of what we are about to get into may not be exactly the same as 2008, but they require you to pay more attention to the integrity of your systems, so that you can deal with volatility that is coming,” the former Delta Corporation chief executive officer said.

Mutizwa said companies should not wait for government for recourse, but should take responsibility to respond to turbulence.
“Don’t wait for national leaders because their approach sometimes is very different from us. Their priorities are very different but we have businesses to run,” he said.

Mutizwa said players in the sector were facing corruption, lack of competitiveness, skills mismatch, infrastructure bottlenecks, foreign and domestic debt, currency dilemma, inflationary pressures, as well as fiscal crisis, among others.
The IIZ conference ends tomorrow.