Corporate ExpertSpeak: Insurance in Mauritius is sophisticated & competitive
Louis Rivalland, Group Chief Executive at Mauritius-based conglomerate Swan, spoke to AfricaMoney on how the insurance major is working towards defining the contours of the insurance landscape in the island economy. (Image: Company)
Louis Rivalland, Group Chief Executive at Mauritius-based conglomerate Swan, spoke to AfricaMoney on how the insurance major is working towards defining the contours of the insurance landscape in the island economy. Our expert also stressed the importance of educating consumers on the need to protect themselves and provide adequately for their future.
Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:
What were the major achievements of the Swan Group in 2014?
2014 was a very busy and productive year for the Group. Above all we very successfully launched a Global Fund in foreign currency allowing Mauritians to access only the best performing, above benchmark funds available worldwide. Swan Group was placed in the limelight by Microsoft Corporation as we were showcased on their website as a global example for the successful implementation & integration of MS LYNC, the corporation’s platform of unified communications, across our organisation.
How has your company worked towards transforming the insurance landscape in Mauritius?
We have collaborated very closely with the regulator in crafting the new contours of private occupational pensions in Mauritius. More particularly, we assisted in the drafting of the Private Pensions Schemes Act 2012 & also contributed on later amendments, providing our decades long experience in anticipating local possibilities as much as proposing industry best practices. Our contribution has been substantial and meaningful. Likewise, we also launched novel covers namely in investment life, the Money Harvest suite, and comprehensive short term covers specifically for the retail market which have been quite successful and, to some extent, emulated. A situation we are happy to live with as this demonstrates we were on the right track.
According to financial highlights for the 9 months ended 30 September 2014, Swan Group saw profit dip by 6.4% to Rs 114.77 million. Can you please comment on the financials in light of this statement?
This is essentially due to initial expenditures in relation with long term investments of some subsidiaries. The Group continues to sustain a series of initiatives mainly outside Mauritius that are for most of them at an early stage, necessitating capital which will be recouped over years. During that same period, it is important to note that profits from the Group’s operations were on the rise.
Swan Travel Agents Competition 2013 saw Rogers Aviation Holding rewarded as the Best Agent. What were the factors that prompted Swan to come up with this competition and what were the main highlights of this event?
Swan Insurance has always pioneered the general insurance industry in Mauritius. As such, it was the first local insurer to develop comprehensive travel insurance offering, in addition to traditional covers, a wide range of complementary assistance services for Mauritian residents travelling abroad. Our competitors quickly joined in and the travel insurance market became very competitive throughout the years.
In 2013, we decided to increase our share of a market representing more than 300,000 travellers.
We therefore revamped our Swan Travel Insurance and, in association with our partner, Linkham Services, offering effective complementary services, we developed a new and easy to use electronic sales software and streamlined our sales process.
We also launched a sales competition among travel agencies. The results were more than encouraging, with sales exceding our expectations. Most of the competitors were rewarded, with Rogers Aviation Holding being awarded the Best Agent trophy.
Another competition is underway for 2014 and we are quite satisfied about the sales performance.
Recently, Swan Group granted Rs 1.6 million to 11 NGOs to drive community projects. How does Swan decide which projects to fund under its CSR initiatives?
The amount of our CSR contributions remitted to each of the 11 NGOs on 25 November 2014, reflects the relative importance we attach to the various categories of community projects under our CSR budget. Namely, education and training (43%), socio economic development (22%), health (16%), leisure and sports (14%) and environment (5%).
It is primarily on this criteria that we select the NGOs with whom we wish to collaborate and on the condition that they are duly registered with the National CSR Committee. We also evaluate their past performance, expertise, management structure, staffing, budget, dynamism and whether the ultimate beneficiaries of their projects are those targeted under the National CSR Guidelines.
What are your expectations for the group in the coming year?
We are just coming out from 2 years of intense yet satisfactory post – merger consolidation across all parts of what were formerly two organisations not necessarily alike and complementary everywhere, where we needed to engage absolutely everyone in the belief & creation of one single fully functional, autonomous and reinforced entity. This is now past us and we now aim at giving ourselves even bolder long and short term objectives via renewed empowerment at all levels and a strong commitment in shared values under a unified organisation. We believe this is now the next step in boldly embarking upon our new destiny.
Finally, could you please provide your views on the insurance landscape in Mauritius?
Insurance in Mauritius is a sophisticated and competitive market. Its main challenge remains increasing the consciousness level of consumers on the need and benefits of protecting themselves and provide adequately for their future.