Group Chief Executive Officer of Forte, Mr. Youk Chamroeunrith spoke with CIR Leader Talks on the insurance companies recent brand refresh and digital transformation, developing human capital in the company, and his outlook for the industry in the coming years.
Starting from humble beginnings in 1999, Forte today incorporates a large, ever-expanding, and diverse pool of talent in an industry that was only reestablished by law in the early 2000s.
Fast forward to November 2022, and now the Kingdom’s largest general insurer and fast-growing life insurer unveiled a refreshed logo and tagline ‘Live with confidence’ to mark the next phase of the company’s growth and digital agenda.
“As part of its brand refresh, Forte has sharpened its vision, mission, and values to emphasize its focus on providing innovative customer-focused products and services and expanding their general and life insurance offerings across more markets in the region,” said Chamroeunrith who started his career in Cambodia’s insurance sector in 1995.
He added that Forte’s new tagline, is a manifestation of the company’s leadership in the insurance sector and marks its stand on sustainable growth and building capacity in people, whilst humanizing insurance and financial services in an empowering way.
“It’s time for us to move forward and modernize for today’s digital age. Our refreshed brand identity signifies confidence and optimism in moving forward as one Forte family with a strong purpose, aligned with our vision to protect and empower everyone in the region for a better future – one person, one business at a time,” Chamroeunrith added.
Moving forward in the digital age
Reflecting on the insurance sector’s adoption of technology dubbed ‘InsurTech’, Chamroeunrith believes that fully embracing digitization will be key to the future success of all financial service providers moving forward both in Cambodia and the region.
“Forte has been investing heavily in its digital capabilities, and now all our major insurance products such as, travel, Covid-19, domestic in land travel, Personal Accident & International Emergency Medical Assistance and more can be purchased easily on our website,” he said.
Chamroeunrith believes that digitilizing distribution channels will be key to attracting the consumer, not only in stimulating buying, but also providing access to insurance products in rural areas where 75% of the population still lives. In addition, as employees demand more benefits, the corporate sector may also respond by providing health, accident, and disability insurance, he added.
“In the last decade, Cambodia’s insurance market has been dynamic and fast growing. The market size has increased by about 20% on average per annum over the last five years. This has been done through increasing digital channels as well as partnering with other financial institutions such as banks and MFIs to access customers – especially in Cambodia’s rural and remote communities,” Chamroeunrith said.
“However, we cannot forget those that still wish to purchase insurance products and make claims through the more traditional methods such as in person, over the phone, or through our agents and we will ensure to keep these options available for the foreseeable future,” he added.
Developing Forte’s human capital
Attracting talented staff to work at Forte has been a key component to the firm’s success which according to its 2020 annual report commands over 44% market share with annual premiums over $50 million.
“Forte believes in a diverse work environment and a strong culture of inclusiveness that allows our workforce to contribute to their full potential. Their unique outlook and experiences are crucial to our continued success,” Chamroeunrith said.
Although in the last five years as the financial services industry continues to develop into one of the fastest-growing industries in the country with many more players staff retention is now becoming a major issue.
“To retain our staff in the highly competitive financial industry, Forte is continuously engaging in programs to develop and redefine our professional capabilities, including being the only insurer in Cambodia to offer higher-level certification (AMII and ACII) training that meets globally-recognized insurance standards,” Chamroeunrith said.
“Our company’s management style is based upon allowing employees to take on responsibility and grow into leadership positions. This was a key strategy element that assisted the growth of the company as well as staying on top of upcoming market trends,” he added.
Chamroeunrith also reflected that the sector should think about establishing a collective fund to help recoup staff training expenses lost from competitors poaching employees off one another, similar to what Cambodia’s banking association has already implemented to address the same concerns.
Future opportunities for Cambodia’s insurance sector
Looking to the future, in Chamroeunrith’s opinion there are three main factors needed to increasing insurance penetration in Cambodia, which currently counts for just slightly above one percent of the GDP with insurance density at $18.75 per capita as of 2021.
“These three areas are; digitization for easier and wider access to products; education, to ensure the Cambodian people understand the vital importance of being insured; and most importantly trust, in the insurance providers and industry as a whole that they will adhere to policy agreements and payout promptly,” he said.
Chamroeunrith added that Cambodia’s insurance industry will continue to grow, predicting premiums will double to approximately two percent of the Gross Domestic Product over the next five years, and tipping premiums will hit between $600 and $800 million a year.
“I believe we will see the continued growth of total premiums across the country as Cambodia remains one of the most under-insured economies in the region. In addition, the increase in digitally available products should turbocharge the sector and allow us to easier reach those who live outside the major centers,” Chamroeunrith said.
“Having said that, we fully understand the challenges ahead of us and commit ourselves as reflected through the Insurance Regulator of Cambodia ‘Strategic Development Plan for Insurance Sector 2021-2030’ for the sector to achieve its stated aim of 5.5% of insurance penetration rate with $135 for insurance density in the year 2030,” he added.