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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Malaysia: Tall order but Takaful Ikhlas is up to the challenge

PETALING JAYA (Aug 12, 2013): Takaful Ikhlas Sdn Bhd, the Islamic insurance arm of MNRB Holdings Bhd, is eyeing to grow its total combined gross contributions by 20% to RM900 million for the current financial year ending March 31, 2014 (FY14) from about RM751 million a year ago.
Its president and CEO Ab Latiff Abu Bakar  said the takaful operator is putting in strategies to improve its ranking a notch up in two years. Takaful Ikhlas' market share is currently at 12% based on gross contribution.
"For 2013, Takaful Ikhlas is looking at growing its business further as compared with previous financial year. The competition in the industry will be greater this year and the challenge is to find the right strategies and initiatives which can expand our business further through the various channels," he told SunBiz in a recent interview.
"It's a tall order but its all about the execution of the strategy and the monitoring of it."
The company is currently ranked third among takaful companies behind Etiqa Takaful Bhd and Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd in terms of total gross contribution.
For FY13, Takaful Ikhlas posted an 8.05% increase in gross contribution. This was an improvement over the previous year when gross contribution dropped 8% to RM695 million from RM760 million in FY11.
For FY14, Ab Latiff said Takaful Ikhlas is looking at strengthening its distribution channels with main focus given to family agency.
"The strategies shall include looking at new area of penetration such as Gen Y and non-Muslim markets, equipping the distribution channels with the right tools through technology and developing the right products to suit the target market segments," he said.
Due to the growing competition of the takaful industry, the company is looking at a few new areas to venture, taking into consideration the aspect of the current social trend and shariah compliance products, on top of the market trend.
Takaful Ikhlas will be banking on its 3,500 family business agents to boost its family takaful business, regarded as a long term saving mechanism, to drive the company's growth and profitability further.
"We plan to introduce or improve our products range to appeal to a wider category of non-Muslim customers. Hence, in the next 12 months we target to rope in 300 non-Muslim agents from a very small base at the moment," he said.
Earlier this month, Takaful Ikhlas launched three regular premium investment linked products targeted especially to attract more non-Muslim agents.
Also in the plan is to boost its regular premium to account for 70% of total family contributions in three to four years from 45% currently.
"Regular premium stands at 45% of total family contribution. The strategy to increase the regular premium business lies mainly in increasing the productivity of the family agency force through the individual products," he said.
To reach the masses at a faster rate and within a short time frame, Ab Latiff said the company wants to expand into the corporate or group business which remains under-penetrated.
Asked how he plans to grow profit this year, he said: "Profit growth will be in line with the continued business growth through the multi-distribution channel, ensuring the right portfolio mix based on the right market segment. The overall expenses itself shall be monitored closely and business development expenses shall be tied to productive activities," he said.
For FY13, Takaful Ikhlas net profit was up 34.3% to RM18 million from RM13.4 million the previous year.
Takaful Ikhlas offers both family and general products. Family products consists mainly of ordinary, medical and investment-linked policies while general products comprises motor, fire, marine, aviation and transit and other miscellaneous classes.
The takaful operator currently has 13 branches throughout Malaysia and plans to set up three service centres in smaller towns.

(The Sun Daily / 12 Aug 2013)

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