It is our professionalism and integrity we bring to bear in business that has made the difference- Valentine Ojumah Managing Director/ CEO FBN Insurance
Valentine Ojumah Managing Director/ CEO FBN Insurance shares with InstinctBusiness the success story …..
What is the trade mark of FBN Insurance?
You know that FBN is a subsidiary of FBN holdings and FBN holdings has got a trade mark, that is First Bank’s trade mark and what it means is You First. We talk to individuals; we are here because of them. Our own trade mark is drawn from that and that is –Because you really matter.
FBN Insurance is jointly owned by Salam Group Financial Institution in South Africa and FBN Holdings, what are those rub off that have influenced your operation?
Having First Bank group as the largest financial service Group in the Sub Sahara Africa, means a lot. We have largest retail customer base, largest branch and network, safest brand and most popular brand. How many more can I say, all that will rub off on us. Salam like we all know is an insurance group that is more than a 100 years old and their foot print is in more than 13 African countries, obviously this two very large financial institution have pedigrees.
In no time you have been awarded Best Life Insurance Company for the Nigerian market by World Finance Awards. Could you relay the event and strategies that attracted this honor?
These awards are quite extensive and there are several awards. We had to be selective; this one is one of them -Best Life Insurance Company in Nigeria that was 2014. We won the Salam Emerging Market fastest growing Company. There were several others but the one that excites me most best is that we are the fastest growing life insurance company having started with a zero base in 2010 and rising to the top 3 in 2015.It is no mean feat, It is really exciting. .
How deep is your penetration, especially with low income Nigerians? Could you shed more light on your micro-insurance policies?
There are probably many understandings of the word micro insurance what is really micro speaks to the lowest echelon in the society. What are the characteristics of this group? They are typically informal they make their moneys daily; they can′t effort a lot of things, typically basic living, so insurance cannot be a priority to them. How do you get this people take interest in a subject like insurance? Number one, you make it inexpensive. Notice I didn’t say cheap. Make it easy for them to understand what you are trying to do, make collection of premium easy and bring it down to their language.
We were able to do that first time in Nigeria through Airtel. We already know Telecom companies have more than 100 [hundred] million active mobile lines in Nigeria. So 3 to 4 years ago we knew that if you want to reach each village persons the only thing they have in common is mobile phone.
We choose Airtel and we did a very simple policy, 20 naira it comes out of their airtime. If anything goes wrong either the money goes to their bank account or it goes back to their airtime. These are the people we address with micro insurance and I tell you it went everywhere it’s one of our flagship products. After Airtel we jointed Etisalat, with these two Telecoms we were able to reach practically everybody anywhere in Nigeria.
The business’s operation are exposed to different challenges what are those things you put in place to manage such?
You already know about our pedigrees. You already know about First Bank and Sanlam and what that means to any insurance business. We drew our strategies from those basic characteristics that are actually peculiar to us. We are the only insurance company in Nigeria with those resources. So we took those resources in and those resources are what drove our business practices.
In two words it is our professionalism and integrity we bring to bear in business that has made the difference. Anybody can say I have a strategy, obviously anybody can say I am doing this and that not everyone can say they are professional and have integrity and those are what distinguish us.
What are the major achievements of FBN Insurance in the last five years?
We have made profit in just about two years that is unprecedented. We won the Best Insurance Award internationally in 2014.
Our employees, particularly our retail employees are the best in Nigeria. If you go out there in the market today not many companies will tell you they have 247 sales men and women distributed across Nigeria in just five years. We started with a capital base of just N2 billion naira and today our reserve is in the neighborhood of N20billion.
In what ways in the last five years has the company impacted positively in the society and what are the plans you have for this year?
That is something that is in our DNA both as individuals and employees of this company and the organization itself. We have individually contributed money to various organizations. I personally contribute monthly to various charity organizations in Nigeria.
What is the highlight of your career and what are your views on the insurance business in this part of the world?
I am one of those people that entered insurance by mistake. I come from Delta state and as a young boy growing in the village I never knew insurance even when I applied in University of Lagos I didn’t study insurance but providence put me in charge and this where I am today. As regards insurance in Nigeria and Africa we need to educate the public. We need to engage the public, get them to understand that this business is actually about them and not about the rich. A lot of people even think it is companies that should buy insurance. In the last five years we have made a landmark of it, a a lot of people have benefitted from our products and that number is rising. As a business insurance has come to stay but particularly in Nigeria, it can only grow. The penetration is low but opportunities are endless. This is where every investor should come to. In the next five years there will be at least 3 major insurance across the world that will be entering the Nigeria insurance market because I think everybody hav
e come to recognize there is money to be made in Nigeria.
What do you do at your free time?
I do appreciate the little time I have off work, so I share with my families and friends I don’t even have enough of that I need more of it.
Describe yourself in three words?
I am an incurable optimist, a hard worker and I am very aspirational.
Lastly I will like to say people should watch out for this company, in few years this company will be a clear leader we are already there as far as Life Insurance is concerned.