How has the company evolved in recent years?
Solomon Lartey We started as Global Alliance in 2005, and the focus was on corporate multinational business. The first thing we had to do when Activa acquired 100% of Global Alliance in 2009 was to manage change from a company that only dealt with large corporate accounts to a company with four different units. We still have global accounts that look at large multinational businesses, corporates that oversee local corporate blue-chip SMEs, broker and intermediaries that look at broker and agents, and a retail unit that looks at personal lines and MSME businesses. Through the Globus Network we are in 48 of the 54 countries in Africa, with an office in Paris. This is how far we have come.
Gideon Amenyedor Vanguard Assurance has been in operation for over 40 years as the first indigenous insurance company in Ghana. Unlike other insurance companies, we have split up our brokers into segments. The first one includes highly qualified brokers who do insurance audits and are able to make recommendations to their clients. The second one includes brokers who have been around for a while and are able to get some SME corporate clients. At the lower end, we have new brokers coming in who we train. We also select certain VIP clients, give them their own relationship managers, and service them on a regular basis. On the retail end, we have branches all over Ghana and are training skilled personnel to ensure we have skilled personnel in place.
What is your growth strategy for the near future?
SL By setting up specific units, such as our retail unit, we have a 360-degree strategy to offer personalized insurance products to disrupt the market. The target will primarily be the middle class and then the lower class. In the next few years, we will focus strongly on growing a stronger retail and SME business to increase profitability and cash flow. We have now set up four different units, and each has a specific focus. We will not lose hold of our position as a market leader in corporate business. We will keep a hold on it and grow market share in other segments such as brokerage, retail, and agency.
GA In the future, rather than open more physical branches, we will move toward digital services, both for buying insurance and making insurance claims through mobile apps and having tracking devices that notify an insurance company of an accident and take photos to help with processing claims. We will also introduce loyalty cards in 2018, and customers who buy insurance products from us will earn points. We are also collaborating with NCN and other entities to sell microinsurance to low-income earners. We are incorporating a new company called Vanguard Micro for this.
What are the greatest opportunities in the Ghana insurance market?
SL Motor insurance premiums will rise as motor rates were recently increased and it is now supposed to be tariffed. It thus makes sense to target motor insurance as it is compulsory. Everyone is innovating to sell motor insurance; it is the hottest thing on the market at the moment. However, we should focus on the service and quality of the products. In London, insurance standards are set so they are similar. Since Ghana is a developing economy, we have to look at developing standards.
GA The government has come up with many great ideas, such as transforming our economy from import based to added-value based. Previously, the government did not make it compulsory for imports to have insurance coverage, and that was a missed opportunity. Now, the government seeks to encourage value-added production in Ghana, and this opens up a world of insurance needs; for example, fire insurance for factories. The government has its One District, One Factory strategy, which is a huge opportunity for the insurance industry. This should increase the insurance penetration rate in Ghana within industry. The country has many skilled personnel in its insurance industry. This will be positive as production increases and the economy widens under the government's policies.