PETALING JAYA: Malayan Banking Bhd’s insurance unit Etiqa aims to stay ahead of the market in terms of growth amid a challenging economic and operating environment.
Etiqa Insurance and Takaful group CEO Kamaludin Ahmad (pic) told StarBiz that the insurance group on the whole grew by 17% in 2018 with new life/family business growing 19% and general business growing by 10%.
In comparison, the Malaysian insurance and takaful industry, however, grew by only 5% and 4% for new life business and general business respectively, he said.
This reflected how challenging the market was in 2018 and this is expected to continue into 2019, he noted.
For this year, given the tough business environment, he said Etiqa’s efforts would be to continue to grow sustainably and be profitable in all segments.
Etiqa is a diversified insurance and takaful player with almost equal revenue growth in its conventional (life and general insurance) and takaful (family and general) businesses.
Etiqa group’s profit before tax surpassed the RM1bil mark for the first time to reach RM1.01bil for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017.
Its gross written premium also hit a record RM6.2bil during the period. The insurer would be announcing its latest results soon.
With this strong performance, Etiqa maintained its top position in the general Insurance and general takaful segment with 11.8% market share and fourth position in the life/family (new business) segment with 8.9% market share for the Malaysian market.
The insurance group under Maybank, has four key organisations operating in Malaysia.
They are Etiqa General Insurance Bhd, Etiqa Life Insurance Bhd, Etiqa General Takaful Bhd and Etiqa Family Takaful Bhd.
Etiqa International Holdings Sdn Bhd, wholly-owned by Maybank, is the ultimate holding company of Etiqa.
Etiqa offers products through its 10,000 strong agency force, 24 Insurance and takaful branches and more than 350 Maybank branches.
With mergers and acquisitions (M&As) taking place in the financial services sector, would it mean that Etiqa would follow suit?
Kamaludin said: “Over the past five years, we have expanded into Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
“We will continue to look for such opportunities in the region.
“There are still, however, a lot of growth opportunities in Malaysia where our focus will still be.”
Last month, Etiqa appointed Paul Low as its new CEO for its life insurance business, hence completing Etiqa’s search for high calibre executives to helm its four organisations.
The other three earlier newly minted CEOs are Zaharudin Daud ( Etiqa General Takaful Bhd), Zafri Ab Halim (Etiqa Family Takaful Bhd ) and Fukhairudin Mohd Yusof (Etiqa General Insurance Bhd ).
On the outlook of the insurance sector this year, he said there remain some uncertainties in the property and construction sectors which may have an impact on the general insurance sector.
“While the automotive sales and travel segments have held up in 2018, the current global economic uncertainty may lead to a potential slowdown in these sectors in the months ahead.
“Nonetheless, Etiqa’s strategy to provide the best service to our customers should ensure that we can maintain if not increase our market share.
“On the life/family takaful side, we see the uncertain market conditions dampening some demand for investment-linked products.
“Again, we seek to provide the best advice to our clients to tide them through this period of uncertainty,” Kamaludin noted.
As for the strategies that the insurance group would be embarking on to strengthen its grip in the insurance and takaful space, he added Etiqa would continue to deliver on its brand promises and ensure that the group is “fast and easy” to deal with as well as providing the best advice to customers.
“While this may sound like a cliche, we have actually implemented various technology initiatives to improve the turnaround times for our claims processes and ease the sales channels.
“We believe our customers are waking up to the fact that Etiqa is an insurer and takaful player committed to paying genuine claims,” Kamaludin said.