Internationally recognised qualifications key to success
Becoming a Chartered insurer when you are not based in the UK is often seen as a challenge, not least because the costs are relatively high for those in emerging markets but also because the content of the exams can seem strange to those who have never worked or even visited the UK. Zep Re, however, has seen the value of training its team to international standards
ZEP-RE is rightly proud of its educational experience with a programme of learning, not just for its own staff but also for the wider insurance industry in east Africa, including for local insurance regulators.
Joseph Nabimanya, HR and Administration Manager, stresses “We are deeply committed to improving the skills of our staff. Our managing director and CEO, Hope Murera has a clear policy that we find the right person for the job and then ensure they are properly qualified – they need to be the right fit to join us rather than being highly qualified. We can manage that after they join us.
“Having said that, we have a total staff of 72 of which 30 are directly involved in insurance and of these seven are Chartered. On the underwriting team, uniquely (certainly in this market), everyone is Chartered or working on becoming Chartered. In the rest of the overall team, we have about half of them with Chartered status in their own disciplines. So, for example, they will be Chartered accountants or Chartered surveyors, etc.”
In terms of support, Mr Nabimanya says “These people are going to be advising our clients so it’s essential they are as well qualified as possible.
“To help them achieve that goal, we will cover their subscription costs for CII membership and will pay for their exams. We buy relevant books so they can prepare for those exams.”
Beyond that, however, ZEP-RE operates its own training academy. Run by Shipango Muteto, the Academy serves to train not just ZEP-RE staff but insurers and brokers across eastern, southern and western Africa. In the past year, the academy has also started training and conducting workshops for the regional regulators.
Shipango said “We realise there is often a huge gap in people’s understanding of reinsurance, even when they are the very people buying the policies or setting the policies. So, we launched the Academy to help bridge the gap.
“It has been really important to engage with the regulators, identifying the gaps in knowledge across the sector.”
ZEP-RE has developed its own reinsurance certification programme- Proficiency in Short Term Reinsurance Practice, working with the Nairobi-based College of Insurance. Now Shipango would like to go one stage further.
“We are working with various regulators to see if we can have this certification made compulsory for those working in the reinsurance space. It would help drive standards upwards, build capacity which is part of our mandate, improve resilience within insurance companies and engender greater trust in insurance among consumers which is much needed across the region.”
And beyond that, Shipango said, “Ideally we would like to build a stronger relationship directly with the CII and eventually maybe the Certification can be approved so that candidates automatically have some points towards their CII qualifications.”
He believes this is very important for emerging markets where there is urgent need to upgrade skills but candidates are often struggling to pay the fees. Another challenge, he said, is relevance.
“If the first exams that candidates take are designed locally, they will be more relevant,” he added. One of his co-workers who recently sat her CII exams said the greatest challenge was in understanding the context of the questions.
“I have never been to the UK and don’t know the rules of the road, for example. I don’t know UK law either and, while it has been very interesting to learn about it, I am unlikely to ever need that information,” she said.
Notes to editors: ZEP-RE is a regional reinsurance company established 1993 in Nairobi, Kenya with a mandate to support the development of insurance markets within the COMESA region. With local presence in seven countries across Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC), Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) underwrites more than 4,000 treaties with 500 companies and draws business from more than 50 countries in Africa, Middle East and Indian sub-continent.
Headquartered in Nairobi, ZEP-RE directly employs 72 people.
This article first appeared in the CII’s Journal magazine: https://thejournal.cii.co.uk/features/exploring-the-worldwide-journey-to-chartered/