India Q+A: Sainesh Dar, Chartered Insurance Institute

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Insurance Post speaks with the Chartered Insurance Institute's South Asia and Middle East regional head Sainesh Dar about the organisation's work in India.

How long has the CII been in India? What is its purpose? 

The Chartered Insurance Institute established a liaison office in India in October 2007. Following the discontinuation of the liaison office, we incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary: the Chartered Institute of Insurance and Financial Services in 2010 based in Nariman Point, Mumbai.

The CII is a professional body and has more than 125,000 members in 150 countries. The CII recognised that it already had a strong base of members and students in India - many of whom were requesting additional support for their professional development. To meet and service this demand a wholly owned subsidiary, the CIIFS, was established.

The development of the CII’s activity in India is focussed on our Royal Charter working to “secure and justify the confidence of the public” by providing professional courses and learning support to corporate clients.

The purpose is to train and improve their employees; knowledge and professional qualifications thereby working with employers to raise professional standards in insurance and financial services.

Which issues are foremost on the mind of senior insurance managers in India?

The CII appointed Business World a few years ago to carry out a survey with insurance companies in India to find out the learning and development needs of the industry and the challenges faced by the industry.

The CEOs and learning and development heads participated in the survey and the report findings suggested that the top strategic challenge faced by the industry is attracting and retaining talent.

The areas to improve include: recruiting and retaining talent, inadequate availability of employable staff; technical knowledge; the professional and regulatory environment; misplaced presentation and mis-selling cases; and the lack of innovative products.

Name three ways insurance companies can improve professionalism in India.

The CII’s vision of professional standards is to have better outcomes for customers, improved risk management standards and a more confident and trusted profession; this should help attract more talented people to a rewarding insurance career.

If insurance and financial services in the future has to prosper as a profession and be seen as such by the wider public we need to ensure we have collectively put in place these fundamental building blocks of a profession: appropriate qualifications, code of ethics, continuous education – CPD points and eventually chartered – the gold standard.

The reputation of insurance companies in India and across the world is low. Are you optimistic they can gain more trust?

There is a feeling of wariness and scepticism across the Indian insurance industry at the moment. The overall environment in the global industry - with some recent cases compromising consumer interests - has also contributed to this feeling.

I’m extremely optimistic that things will improve and very quickly. All the key constituents which make up the insurance industry in India, including the regulator, insurers, reinsurers, trade bodies, brokers and market practioners are all committed to working towards a more transparent environment where education and awareness play a key role in restoring public trust.  

What is the rationale behind the Mumbai Insurance Club which took place in June?

The Mumbai Insurance Club was organised with a view to create a platform and bring together all the committed professionals from the insurance and financial services sector to build a momentum and start a movement towards raising professional standards in the local markets.

The main objectives going forward are to share best practices from the international markets and to create an environment based on trust and transparency supported through education, awareness and a strict code of ethics which protects public interests.

For content from the Mumbai Insurance Club see http://www.postevents.co.uk/mumbaiinsuranceclub/static/content-centre

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