The primary objective of NAMLIFA, now known as the National Association of Malaysian Life
Insurance Fieldforce and Advisors, is to defend the agency system in order to ensure that insurance agents obtain a fair environment that is conducive with their career.
In an interview with Money Compass, NAMLIFA’s newly appointed president Sethu Karuppan said the association was committed to promote the professionalism of the insurance industry by conducting various financial courses and examinations to help the agents upgrade their professional capabilities.
NAMLIFA also organises an annual Mega Convention to motivate its agents. This year’s convention, themed as Evolution for Success, is into its 34th year. It will be held from 27-29 August at the Genting International Convention Centre in Genting Highlands, Pahang.
The agents’ achievements are recognised via the presentation of its annual national AKARD Award, which will be held on 28 August.
Explore Open Commission System
One of the major tasks after Sethu came onboard as NAMLIFA president was to have a dialogue with the regulatory authorities to explore the recommendations of an “open commission system” in order to ensure that insurance agents receive a more favourable environment for their career development.
Improve Life Insurance Penetration Rate Commenting on the challenges of the local insurance
industry, he said Malaysia’s life insurance penetration rate was still relatively low considering that only around 45% of the Malaysian population have some form of life insurance protection.
Acceptance of life insurance in Malaysia currently represents 2.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The Finance Ministry intends to increase its life insur- ance penetration rate to 4% of the GDP or 75% of the population by 2020.
Insurance has become a necessity
Sethu said, “Life insurance is particularly important for the bread winner because it provides protection for the family. Insurance has become a necessity in view of the rising cost of living and with medical expenses and education fees getting more expensive.”
In addition, with life expectancy in Malaysia getting longer for both males and females at 71 and 76 years respectively based on 2011 estimates, he felt that it was imperative to put into place a financial education plan that would prepare the public for their retirement.
As such, more efforts are required to be put in to raise public awareness on the value of insurance.
Sethu also called on all parties concerned to sit down and discuss how they could assist the government to achieve its targets for the financial services sector, in particular insurance.
Moving in tandem with the need to increase the public’s awareness of insurance products in the market, Sethu reminded the agents to upgrade their knowledge and skills by reading industry‘s recommended magazines, attending insurance courses and sitting for examinations to enable them to cater better to their customers’ needs.
NAMLIFA’s 34th Mega Convention
The 34th Mega Convention 2012 by National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance Fieldforce and Advisors (formerly known as National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance and Financial Advisors) or NAMLIFA in short will be one of the largest annual gatherings for the local life insurance industry.
An estimated 2,000 participants from 16 life insurance companies are expected to attend this three-day Mega Convention starting 27 August.
According to its organising chairman Robin Woh Chee Wai, this year’s Mega Convention will be a fantastic platform and eye opener for the life insurance agents to learn and listen from the international speakers and top agents who have been invited.
They are from Singapore, Taiwan, India, Australia Thailand and Malaysia.
On this year’s theme, Evolution for Success, Woh said, “It is aimed at creating more professional and knowledgeable life insurance agents.
“It is also driven by the need to boost these agents’ morale and help them to achieve more in their perfor- mance bearing in mind that they face not only many challenges but also intense competition.”
He said the competition did not come from the banking and insurance sectors alone but also from multi-level marketing companies which are pinching these agents for their talent pool.
With customers getting more knowledgeable and savvy
in obtaining information from the Internet, they are now open to more choices when it comes to getting consul- tancy on financial planning and insurance matters.
In this respect, Woh said life insurance agents need to double up their efforts to acquire more financial planning knowledge and skills to enable them to secure policies from clients.
The agents’ job has gone beyond selling life insurance policies. They must also know what their customers’ needs and be able to assist them to obtain a complete financial management solution.
While the core value of the life insurance industry has not changed, agents need to realise that they have to continuously enhance their knowledge, financial planning and negotiation skills in today’s competitive environment. Unlike previous years, Woh said, “This year’s Mega Convention will begin at 9am instead of in the afternoon and end at 5.30pm. This is all part of our whole process of change.
“The first night has been left deliberately free for the individual insurance companies to host their own dinners or receptions in honour of their own agents. “We prepare for our grand opening the next morning.
This will be followed by a CEO Forum and in the afternoon, we will have several concurrent breakout sessions. The 9th National AKARD awards ceremony will be held later that same evening.”
It is AKARD chairman G Saseedaran’s hopes that these award recognitions for the agents will inspire and motivate other agents to achieve greater heights.