“Importance of Insurance Professional Qualification”
We live in a world today where specialization in one’s field of work counts more than ever. It has become rather essential. There was a time when people used to consult a general physician for every health problem because of the shortage of specialist physicians.
But times have changed. These days we consult a cardiologist for heart problems, a neurologist for neurological problems, an urologist for kidney problems, a child specialist and so on and so forth. Unlike in the past when only academic qualification and work experience were considered for increment, promotion etc. but it is not the case today.
In the West, it is essential to have an insurance professional qualification namely ACII, AIRM etc. for career advancement. Unlike other classes of business, insurance is a highly technical subject. It requires technical knowledge, training and technical expertise to run this business successfully.
Individual commitment and determination
Professional qualification brings respect as well as recognition from the insurance sector. Doing a full time job and leading a family life, it is not at all an easy task to pursue professional qualification. It needs strong determination and commitment. One should be prepared and willing to make sacrifices and burn midnight oil in order to achieve one’s goal in this regard.
There is no shortcut to coming up or advancing in one’s career without a professional degree or qualification. It is worth the time and trouble to go for it. It should be remembered that a professionally qualified person has an edge over others. There is a saying “Nothing succeeds like success”. Being professionally qualified gives a sense of personal satisfaction on top of everything.
Role of top management : Encouragement to acquire professional qualification
Top management of an insurance company should realize the fact that without long term investment in manpower in the form of financing staff members and encouraging them to acquire professional qualification , an insurance company may find it difficult to compete with its peer group having professionally qualified personnel working for them.
Top management should take initiative and be prepared and willing to commit funds and time in their endeavour to develop a professional team to run the business. It is a long term investment worth considering. An insurance company with a professional team will certainly be ahead of the game and enjoy a higher degree of reputation in the insurance market.
Training is a must
It is said that “Training makes a ready hand”. Training is an absolute requirement for an insurance company. There are no two ways about it.
Top management should encourage their employees to participate in the company’s training program on a regular basis. They should arrange internal as well as external training and set aside sufficient funds for this purpose. They should be encouraged and funded to attend insurance seminars/workshops etc. to keep themselves abreast with the latest insurance developments in the market.
Some questions and answers on insurance professional qualifications
Difference between traditional and professional qualification
Traditional qualification is also known as general or conventional qualification. Examples of traditional qualification include BA, BSc, BCom, MA, MSc, MCom etc. Traditional qualification usually provides general knowledge on the subject. But professional qualification provides technically based sound and broader knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Examples of professional qualification include physicians (MBBS, FCPS), engineers (Bsc.Eng.) in Civil/Electrical/Mechanical Engineering, Chartered Accountants (CA), Solicitors (LLB/MLB) etc.
In essence the main difference between traditional qualification and professional qualification is that the former is general in nature and the latter is technical in nature some of which may be too technical or specialized in nature.
Training Vs. professional qualification
Professional qualification and training go hand-in-hand. Each compliments the other. Training apparently serves to sharpen and enhance technical knowledge. It assists to keep knowledge up to date by bringing out the latest developments/changes in the insurance industry.
Training particularly deals with work process/procedures etc. with regard to practical application of technical knowledge gained through professional qualification in a workplace. Training from time to time is essential for the development of technical knowledge.
Availability of insurance professional qualification in Bangladesh
Professional qualifications may be categorised into the following groups:
- Professional qualification offered locally such as insurance diploma (ABIA) by Bangladesh Insurance Academy ( A government organisation).
- Professional qualifications such as insurance diploma (AIII, FIII) and AMII, ASII offered by Insurance Institute of India (III) and Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII) ,Singapore Insurance Institute (SII) respectively in the South East Asia region.
- Professional qualifications offered such as insurance diploma (ACII, FCII) by Internationally reputed insurance institutions namely The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), London.
In addition to offering insurance diplomas (ABIA), Bangladesh Insurance Academy (BIA) also has an arrangement with Malaysian Insurance Institute (MII), Insurance Institute of India (III) and The Chartered Insurance (CII), London to conduct examinations on their behalf in Bangladesh.
How to Study?
Having a full time job and family, it is not at all an easy task to pursue professional qualification. One should be able to balance or juggle between office work, family life by using time management properly and effectively. For example they should make it a habit to study for at least 2 (two) hours during the weekend.
Study should include reading textbooks, reference books etc. If necessary they should browse through the internet. They might want to utilize their annual holiday for study purposes or take study leave from the office, say one week prior to examination for preparation.
No doubt , it is hard work needing some sort of self discipline and sacrifice. But it is worth the time and trouble considering that professional qualification does bring respect as well recognition from the market on top of carrying mental satisfaction. It may look difficult but it is possible to achieve this goal with strong determination and commitment.
When to start professional qualification?
There is no hard and fast rule in this regard. There are cases when fresh graduates (financially solvent) go for professional qualification before joining work. But this may not be possible for the majority of people belonging to middle class families.
For them and taking into consideration that it involves a lot of money to complete professional qualification, it is advisable to start chasing professional qualification after acquiring some basic knowledge in insurance and say after having 3-5 years work experience when they are still young and their minds are fresh and agile.
Scholarship and costs involved
As far as scholarship is concerned, it may come from a host of sources namely;
- From the employer (insurance company)
- From Insurance Development & Regulatory Authority (IDRA)
- Insurance professional body
- Private organizations (as part of Corporation Social Responsibility)
- Charitable organizations/ NGOs etc.
It may be relevant to mention here that Tyser (Bangladesh) Ltd, had been offering stipend to few students for the last several years to those who have completed ABIA diploma course from Bangladesh Insurance Academy on merit basis.
Bangladesh Insurance Professionals Society (BIPS) has recently announced offering stipends to successful ABIA students in the future (up to 5 students) annually on merit basis.
As far as cost is concerned, in order to complete ABIA insurance diploma course (comprising 10 papers) from Bangladesh Insurance Academy, the estimated cost is around Tk 10,000 (taka ten thousand).
On the other hand, an insurance diploma namely ACII (comprising 10 papers) from The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), Londin is relatively expensive and may cost an estimated amount of Tk 2 to 3 lacs.
Number of qualified insurance professionals in Bangladesh
Although there is no official statistics available in this regard, the numbers of various insurance diploma degree holders may be estimated as follows:
- ABIA : 700 (approx.)
- ACII : 25-30 (approx.) (Active in BD market is less than 18)
- FCII : 3
- Others such as AIII, AMII, ASII etc. : 10 (approx.)
Scope of career progression with professional qualification
In today’s world, it is almost impossible to think of career progression or advancement without professional qualification. In the olden days, increments, promotions etc. were based on traditional educational background, work experience etc.
But today, career advancement or progression largely depends on professional qualification. In the West, certain high level insurance jobs such as managerial positions require a professional qualification which is a must for high ups jobs.
Insurance Development & Regulatory Authority (IDRA) may play an important and valuable role in promoting professional qualification and insurance education.
They may follow the following routes:
- Offer scholarship to eligible candidates in the insurance sector
- Arrange training for insurance employees (including their own staff members) on a regular basis
- Arrange seminars/conference
Invite easy competition (on annual basis) on current insurance topics
- Publish insurance books/magazines
- Exert pressure on insurance companies to offer salary increment, promotion to those working in their organisation having insurance qualification by way of incentive.
- Introduce award for insurance personality of the year based on one’s contribution to the insurance sector etc.
CPD stands for “Continuous Professional Development”. This program is designed by The Chartered Insurance Institute(CII) in London. The purpose of this program is apparently to keep CII members, especially ACII’s engaged in various insurance activities throughout the year.
Such activities shall include:
- Reading insurance books/journals/magazines regularly including CII Journal
- Practice writing on insurance matters in various insurance magazines/journals
- Participating in insurance seminars/conferences
- Participating in a training program
- Participating in insurance discussion/debate on TV etc.
The importance of professional qualification cannot be understated. The Bangladesh insurance sector requires more and more insurance professionals and technically qualified people in order to uplift it from the current sorry state of affairs. A time will come and it is not too far when an insurance manager will be required to possess professional qualification for the job.
Government , Insurance Development & Regulatory Authority (IDRA) and all stakeholders should come forward and prove that they are really serious about bringing changes to the insurance sector. Unfortunately, so far there seems to be more talk and little action in the matter.
The insurance regulatory authority should put continuous pressure on the insurance company to spend money for insurance education, training for their staff. They should also exert pressure on the insurance company to recognize insurance qualified personnel working for their organisation by allowing/ offering them increment, promotion etc. It should be remembered that without incentive and encouragement, it is not possible to develop a skilled workforce, a crying need for the Bangladesh insurance sector at the moment.
Hope my endeavor is found useful, informative and beneficial for the readers. Please drop your comment in the below box.
Mr. Haque was brought up and educated in Dhaka. He obtained his master’s degree with honours in Biochemistry from University of Dhaka (DU). He spent nearly four decades in Dubai (UAE) working for several multinational insurance companies in various capacities. He obtained his Fellowship (FCII) from The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), London, Associateship (AIRM) from The Institute of Risk Management (IRM), London, Associateship (ACIArb) from The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), London. He has authored several books on insurance which have been acclaimed both at home and abroad. He contributes regularly on insurance matters in various online insurance news portals and is a founder General Secretary of Bangladesh Insurance Professionals Society (BIPS). Presently Mr. Haque is serving as the Director of Sadharan Bima Corporation, Dhaka.