TAKE ME ON A DIGITAL JOURNEY

Jamaica 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Christopher Zacca, President & CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica, on increasing intra-company interaction, leveraging the right investments, and exploiting the country's largest database.

Christopher Zacca
BIOGRAPHY
Christopher Zacca has a wealth of business and management experience in both the public and private sectors spanning more than three decades. He has held senior management positions at Desnoes and Geddes, ATL Group, Air Jamaica Ltd. and served as President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica. In the public sector, he served as special advisor to the Prime Minister from 2009 to 2011 and is a former Chairman of the Development Bank of Jamaica and the National Health Fund. He has also served on numerous state boards including the Factories Corporation, National Education Trust, and Jampro. He holds an MBA from the University of Florida and a BSc in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What changes in strategy do you plan to introduce at Sagicor?

I have been President and CEO since May 2017. We have a strong company that was led by my predecessor Richard Byles for 13 years, and he has passed on a solid legacy for me to continue to build and grow on. My strategy is to take the company on a digital journey that drives innovation over the next five years, which will help with improved efficiency and our clients' service experience across all our business lines. I also want to increase the interaction between the different parts of our diverse financial group to encourage more sales and cross-selling of our products and services. Insurance is our core business and has tremendous growth potential in banking and investments. Our investment arm is a large player in the stock market and corporate finance world in terms of wealth management. There is a major upside for those areas. We are also the largest pension fund manager in the country and largest third-party fund manager and have large investments in the hotel and tourism sector. We would like to leverage those managed funds to do more things to benefit our clients and us.

What are the advantages of being such a large group with diverse services?

The advantages are access to capital and our 1.6 million client database. We have the largest client database in Jamaica, which gives a huge advantage in terms of leverage. For example, we have a health insurance plan that insures the entire family; hence, those people are also in the database. We know their birthdays and other information that can be used to market and sell to them. We also have the ability to spread technological innovation across a wider revenue stream.

Are you a one-stop shop in that sense?

Yes, we have a plan to create financial centers so that our clients can go into a branch and meet an insurance agent or finance expert. We have already started and plan to accelerate that in the coming years. We plan to have about five or six in total, and most of our bank branches already have an investment section as well. The idea is to incorporate life insurance, which does not exist in Jamaica to the extent and scale we propose. We also have plans to do micro-insurance at the retail level and introduce payment methods that are appealing to the unbanked, such as mobile money and app-based bank accounts.

How do your investments in real estate relate to your other activities?

We manage the largest real estate fund in Jamaica. Real estate is an integral part of any investment portfolio, in addition to bonds and stocks, and we have a target for our total funds to be in real estate, which means we have to find investments. We have done a great deal in tourism, including the Jewel Hotels brand, which has been doing well. There is also commercial real estate. We are building a mall in May Pen, which is a growing part of the country on the south coast off the new highway. We are always on the lookout for new projects. There are also investment possibilities in business process outsourcing (BPO) and infrastructure projects, such as airports, ports, water, and energy.

How would you characterize Sagicor's corporate social responsibility programs?

We have our own Sagicor Foundation where the main focus is on health and education. Our Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run, our marquee charity event in Jamaica, has strong support from corporate Jamaica and individuals. The 2017 staging attracted over 25,000 participants and remains the largest road race in the Caribbean, and the 2018 staging will mark the 20th anniversary of the event. The run has helped raise over USD2.39 million for charity over the years and is something we are proud of.