YOUSSEF FASSI FIHRI

Morocco 2020/21 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Youssef Fassi Fihri, CEO of Société Centrale de Réassurance (SCR), about reinsurance in Morocco, the company's internal Academy, and priorities for 2021.

What are SCR's mission, vision, and major benchmarks to highlight in the last six decades?

Historically, SCR was created in 1960 through the political initiative of the former Prime Minister Abderrahhim Bouabid just after independence of the kingdom of Morocco. He wanted to create a national reinsurer to ensure capacity in the Moroccan reinsurance market to support the kingdom's major projects and protect Morocco from the turbulence of the international market. We have become a regional player and bound by our trade to diversify risk. While remaining strongly established and anchored in our original market where we are a leader, international business now constitutes an important part of our activity with 44% of net written premiums. In 2021, we are set to see a turnover of EUR200 million. SCR's mission is to be anchored in Morocco in order to establish a connection between Africa and the Middle East. These are our two main markets for expansion. Beyond this, we have expanded into other markets, primarily in Asia, though we are committed to our expansion in emerging countries. We feel confident about the future over the next three or four years, for which we have a solid economic model and a business plan that offers us a certain degree of security. Our monitoring is carried out by international credit agencies that determine the solvency margin, which is vital for reinsurers. We enjoy a local rating of AAA by Fitch rating and our AM Best rating is B++.

What are the main strategic objectives and missions of the African Centre of Catastrophe Risks (ACCR)?

ACCR is a technical center whose purpose is to undertake and coordinate joint actions of the African Insurance Organization (AIO) members to develop the insurance and reinsurance of catastrophe risks in Africa and leveraging the insurance as a mitigation and risk reduction instrument. Our work consists of building awareness among the African public about the importance of catastrophe risks insurance to the long term sustainable development of the society. The awareness effort shall stimulate the demand for insurance products in general and expedite the growth of the African Insurance Market.

How do you plan to respond to the risk resulting from cybercrime?

This is one of the challenges for the future of the SCR. We are confident about the importance of emerging risks and we will work to be a market aggregator. The basic rule that we want to deploy is to put forward a geographical diversification as well as a diversification by targeted activity branch. For this, we are negotiating with an international reinsurer with expertise in this area. We are looking at a scenario where we will keep some of the risk and cede the rest.

What trends are you seeing in the Moroccan insurance market, and how are you adapting to these developments?

The insurance market is heavily tied to the economy. Right now, we are seeing an economic downturn across the world, and in Morocco as well. There are, however, opportunities to be taken. The reinsurance world and people in general are becoming more demanding in terms of certain strategies or types of risks that they no longer cover in their investment strategies, and, therefore, we are seeing opportunities arising or already existing for regional reinsurers. If we look at global economic growth, the insurance industry has not grown in the same way.

What are the objectives of the SCR's internal academy now and into the future (SCR ACADEMY RE)?

We created this Academy two years ago as part of our previous STRONG II strategic plan. We have just given it new impetus as part of the new strategic plan “We Transform Tomorrow Together” that we have just launched during the pandemic. This new orientation of the Academy aims to offer to our clients in the insurance market in Morocco and Africa training in insurance and reinsurance. We are also evolving, integrating new soft skills development programs and giving it a broader dimension by integrating internal training components. Currently, we are working on the framing of a digital space for knowledge management and also in the creation of partnership with several specialized institutions and with universities to propose end of study projects for the doctorate.

SCR has announced a new 2021-2023 transformation plan. Could you tell us more on this, and what your top priority is for 2021?

The We Tomorrow Together transformation plan has been developed throughout the pandemic. With all the SCR teams, we are proud to have taken up the challenges of this period and to have deployed a new strategic plan. Indeed, this is a new 2021-2023 roadmap made up of four pillars. The first pillar is dedicated to Business Growth & Profitability considered as one of the pillars of growth, business development and financial performance. The second is much more focused on risk management and improving ratings. The third focuses on process improvement and service engagement, and the fourth pillar concerns strengthening the employer brand and the marketing policy we need to adopt vis-à-vis customers in our markets. These projects were framed with the various project managers. We will endeavor to ensure that we are sufficiently solid to meet the expectations and objectives of our shareholders, and to maintain a solvency margin in line with regulatory requirements.