Has Covid-19 changed the dynamics of thinking in the business space?
Before the pandemic, the conventional wisdom was that being physically present at the office was critical to productivity. Today, many statistics point to increased productivity with work-from-home arrangements.
Technology has enabled collaboration and enhanced productivity without needing to be in the office all the time. While some jobs still require a personal touch, technology is playing an increasing role in how we interact with each other. A consequence of this is that many employees have now been liberated from long commutes and have found more productive ways to spend that time.
Employees enjoy greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives and many now prefer to work from home. Organizations have also realized that the cost of doing business is significantly reduced when employees work from home; in addition, their talent pools have now become much larger with fewer locational constraints.
One can conclude, therefore, that despite the massive economic and human toll of the pandemic, there have been some real positive changes made in how we work.
How can you relate financial inclusion to insurance and pension products?
Sometime in 2012, the National Financial Inclusion Strategy was launched in Nigeria as a catalyst for economic recovery in the country.
Financial inclusion is achieved when adult Nigerians have access to affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial inclusion can only be achieved when financial transaction processes and documentations are transparent, simplified and seen as meeting needs of the people and at the same time being beneficial to the financial services sector.
While the pandemic has caused severe disruptions, opportunities have also been created to grow customer base on account of the obvious fact that there is no real social security arrangement by government in the event of sudden and unexpected events and so citizens need to make plans by themselves for wellness both in business and family life.
Economic shocks like sudden loss of job, illness or death can send people living just above the poverty line into abject poverty. So whether one is in the formal or informal sector, there is the need to have a safety net. The sudden and unforeseen calamities created by the pandemic has highlighted the need to plan for unforeseen circumstances and even early retirement.
To take advantage of these opportunities, the pensions and insurance industries must remain committed to the inclusive growth of the Nigerian economy, creating opportunities for lower income groups to be part of the broader financial system.
There are 5 main thrusts of financial inclusion in Nigeria. They are; Savings, Payments, Credit, Pensions, and Insurance. Increased collaboration between the private sector and government has led to the release of various guidelines guiding operations in Takaful insurance, bancassurance, micro insurance, micro pensions, pension fund investments and so on.
How can operators of both sectors catch in on opportunities therein?
In conclusion, the opportunities which exists for increased financial inclusion in both the Insurance & pension sectors will only be achieved if we design products that are perceived to meet the people’s needs and could be seen as improving their welfare rather than impoverishing them. Operators must constantly be engaged in strategic thinking; have a broad understanding of the economic situation of the country, understand the mindset and ways of life of different ethnic groups and then have a variety of products from which the people can make a choice from.
What should insurers do to aid insurance penetration?
Speaking of insurance, opportunities exist to increase insurance penetration and the customer base, both in the retail and corporate segments of the market, if the right moves are made.
………what of the pension industry?
Over the last 17 years, a tremendous amount of progress has been made in the Nigerian pension industry and regulation has enabled this growth. However, inclusive growth in pensions must recognize the peculiarity of the population segment being addressed.
This recognition must have an impact on how products are designed and how lower income segments of the population interact with pension funds.