TRUSTED ADVISER

Nigeria 2019 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

YOA has expanded its service scope, focusing on varying sectors within the economy in line with new opportunities.

Can you tell us about YOA and its portfolio of operations?

YOA Insurance started in 2002 as specialist insurance brokers to the energy sector, though over the years it has expanded its scope of services, focusing on varying sectors within the economy. We are the exclusive network partners in Nigeria to JLT Specialty Limited, one of the largest international insurance broking groups. In the last five years, we have extended our expertise into the manufacturing and service sectors. Our name originates from the initials of Olayinka Omilani, our chairman, the founder of Yinka Omilani & Associates, the first indigenous firm of insurance loss adjusters. The company was known for its experience in maritime and oil and gas-related risk.

How is your client base split between corporations and individuals?

At present, it is mainly corporations; however, we are evolving our strategy to grow both businesses simultaneously. At 0.4%, Nigeria is the least penetrated insurance market, so there is huge potential. Consequently, we decided as part of our group strategy to get involved in direct business, which is why we set up YOA Direct for the retail end of our business and managing closed insurance schemes for organizations.

Would it be more convenient for yourself and other insurance companies to keep targeting the corporate side?

We will continue to target the corporate side but in a different way. The existing marketplace is getting more competitive, and margins are shrinking. So, in serving corporates, we find that providing more specialized needs or focusing on emerging industry verticals is the key. Having a client base composed of individuals, too, will make the current portfolio more balanced. Therefore, we are looking at a combination of strategic options to grow the business in the most sustainable manner.

How do you plan to penetrate the retail market and raise awareness about insurance?

One of the main issues in the retail space is regulation. We need regulations that stimulate new product development and allow them to be quickly approved. Another option is using technology to enable insurance product sales. For example, some insurance companies have partnered with mobile network operators to allow individuals certain types of insurance. Education is also imperative, and to that end, the regulating body and insurance companies have recently collaborated to raise insurance awareness. Nevertheless, we have seen progress in the last decade, with people beginning to see the value in insuring their homes and assets.

What role does the government have to play in educating the public and further developing the market?

Operators have to play this role as we cannot expect the government to take concrete steps in this direction. We must do this in conjunction with our regulator and this is what is happening at the moment. It is a lot of work and is going to take time as we are dealing with many people who have limited insurance knowledge and awareness.

What is your outlook for the company for 2019?

In 2019, we are determined to continue growing revenue and optimizing our costs. However, 2019 can potentially be a great year across a few sectors we have identified as our area of growth focus. We also plan to launch some groundbreaking initiatives and will look to diversify our business by going into areas with higher barriers to entry, which is a key aspect of pushing the boundaries of innovation. One of the key strategies we have been pushing over the years is education; it is tremendously important to ensure that we stay up-to-date with market happenings and knowledge acquisition, because the insurance industry is dynamic. Client expectations are evolving, and the Nigerian market is opening up to new opportunities. We, in collaboration with our insurance company partners, are working to develop policies that can be marketed to an emerging clientele base.