EXPERT ADVICE

Dubai 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

As a professional insurance intermediary, Gargash Insurance provides great value addition to its clients in terms of value engineering and risk management.

Mustafa Vazayil
BIOGRAPHY

The founder and Managing Director of Gargash Insurance Services, the region's largest professional insurance intermediary, Mustafa Vazayil has over 35 years of exposure in management positions with leading multinational and national insurance companies. He is a fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute in London.

How did the market's performance align with expectations, and how do you evaluate opportunities in 2020, particularly as we approach Expo?
Unfortunately, the market did not see the expected pick up in 2019, mainly due to factors beyond the UAE's control. There are hopes that we will see a slow pick up in the second and third quarters of 2020. The areas that will see immediate pick up will be construction, trade, and tourism. Transportation is also expected to grow in 2020.

What does innovation look like at Gargash Insurance?
Integrating and adapting technology is mission critical for sustained growth. It clearly helps, especially those in the service industries, to reduce their costs of doing business, though it also requires huge capital investment in the near term for long-term benefits. Companies that are not in a position to make this upfront investment in technology will find it challenging to survive in the medium term because those who invest and expand their IT, AI, and similar capabilities will be able to operate more efficiently and cost effectively. Gargash is excited about the various initiatives it is taking, including some groundbreaking technology interface with underwriters in 2020. This will enhance delivery and customer satisfaction. Such platforms will be the precursor for AI solutions and analytics, taking the insurance and business ecosystem to greater heights.

Given the competitive landscape, how does Gargash differentiate itself, and what is the value of having an insurance intermediary?
By now, the market is developed well enough to appreciate the value addition a professional intermediary can bring to the customer with regard to value engineering and risk management. For Gargash, as a leading professional intermediary, we need to deliver our services far beyond customer expectations. Everyone is under pressure in terms of their bottom line, and therefore customers are looking for quicker response times from us. This means there is more price pressure on insurance companies in what has always been a competitive market. However, we have found it better to compete in terms of quality and not price. Dubai's strategic positioning is of great advantage to any business that has its central operations based here. We are fortunate that we are well established in this regionally and globally strategic location.

How does this position you to expand beyond the UAE, and what opportunities are you seeing regionally?
Our vision is that with the ongoing integration of technology in the GCC, the regulators will be have to adapt the law and its practice to permit regional and interstate business transactions without typical brick-and-mortar offices. From our point of view, if we come across the right opportunity in any of our neighboring markets, we will not shy away from investing. While this is happening regionally, our focus is to remain the leading national professional intermediary in our local market with an emphasis on facilitating ease of business transactions for our customers, both corporate and individual.