Insurers in need of skilled manpower | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 15, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 15, 2012

Insurers in need of skilled manpower

Private companies do not have a single actuary

Private insurers in Bangladesh do not have a single actuary to analyse the financial costs of risks and uncertainty for the business that is getting complicated day by day.
Not only actuaries, the industry of 62 insurance companies, including two state-owned corporations and one company incorporated outside Bangladesh, severely suffers from a shortage of qualified people to help businesses and clients develop policies to minimise risks.
Successive governments paid no heed to this area and instead they were only serious about giving licences to companies to make the industry oversaturated, insurers said.
“No government tried to develop professionals for the insurance industry. Even there is no academic course on insurance in any university or college in Bangladesh,” said Sheikh Kabir Hossain, chairman of Bangladesh Insurance Association (BIA), a platform of private insurers.
In mid 1980s, the industry has emerged from the state-owned structure to a more liberalised and competitive market, where a number of insurance companies have been established in the private sector.
Insurance business, growing at more than 15 percent a year for the last one decade, is getting complicated gradually with the diversification of trade and economy. The insurers said the industry needs qualified personnel to design policies and market those as well.
The BIA, which was established in 1973 to provide education and training to the professionals, has been weakening gradually. It is understaffed and under-resourced.
According to Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA), the regulator, the BIA has 33 staff members now. Of them, 28 are office assistants and peons. The academy is running with a lone faculty member. The line ministry (finance) appoints a director for the academy without considering whether he/she has knowledge on the industry or not.
Nasir A Chowdhury, managing director of Green Delta Insurance, said the insurers submitted a proposal to the ministry almost a decade ago to turn the BIA into an institute like the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, but there was no headway.
“We don't see any development,” said Chowdhury, who has been with the insurance industry for more than 50 years.
The regulator also admitted the acute crisis of qualified people.
“Even a company doesn't get quality people for the post of a managing director. Many people who are heading different companies lack proper qualifications,” said Shefaque Ahmed, chairman of the IDRA.
He said the insurance sector was kept outside the purview of the reform programme.
Ahmed is one of the two actuaries in Bangladesh. The other is with the state-owned life insurance corporation.
“India has several hundred actuaries. Also Pakistan has a good number of actuaries,” he said.
The IDRA chairman has devised a strategy to develop professionals for the insurance business. He submitted a proposal to the finance minister mapping out his plan to strengthen the academy.
“The current organisational structure of the BIA is bottom-heavy and it is unable to meet the growing needs of the training courses,” he said.
He put forward a set of recommendations for the overall development of the academy. The recommendations include handing over the academy from the finance ministry to the IDRA. The private sector insurers also endorsed the suggestion.

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