Amandla interviews the MD of Ghana’s SIC Insurance Plc

Mr. Stephen Oduro, the Managing Director of SIC Insurance Plc, Ghana, was voted the CEO of the year 2022 for General Insurance in May 2023 by CEO Network of Ghana. Amandla brings you an interview it recently had with him

Amandla. Good morning Mr. Oduro.

At the 7th Edition of the Ghana CEO Summit, you were crowned the CEO of the Year 2022 in the category of General Insurance. How did you achieve that honor?

MD. Thank you very much and greetings to your cherished audience across the world. When I look at the last 6 years of SIC Insurance Plc, Ghana’s largest and preferred Insurance Company, I think about the staff of the Company and the people who believed in my dream to turn things round as well as all who stood by me every step of the way to bring the Company this far. I joined the Company at a time when things were pretty rough and tough and many people thought the Company was going down and will not survive.

I looked at the profile and pedigree of the Company and I was convinced that when we work at things systematically with purpose and conviction we could steer the ship out of danger.

First of all, adapting proactively was very critical in running an organization like SIC Insurance Plc. Because of where I had come from, I had to adapt proactively. I had to adjust quickly to my new and rapidly changing environment.

Secondly, setting a clear course for the organization was key. It’s important to look at what to do in the short, medium, and long-term and stay focused on these set goals. And once that was done, there was the need to constantly engage all key stakeholders, carry them along and get their buy-in.

Progressively over the past six years, I have seen the Company gain back its first place reputation, exceed its yearly targets and pay dividend back to back – first time in the Company’s history. It has not been an easy journey but with this award I can look back and feel proud of what we have achieved.

It has not been easy and I can confidently say leading and running Ghana’s largest insurance company has been both challenging and fulfilling. Most importantly, SIC Insurance Plc regained its position in the Club 100. That means, SIC has become part of the top 100 companies in Ghana.

Amandla. You were appointed the CEO of Ghana’s State Insurance Corporation by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2017, did you have prior experience in the insurance business?

MD. Thank you again. Interestingly yes. I had done some work in insurance first with John Alden Life Insurance Company in New York and then with Prudential Insurance in the US. So, I had some experience before taking up the challenge in Ghana. I must also say that gave me a lot of confidence about what was ahead and it has indeed helped me very much.

Amandla.  In a nutshell, explain to us the business of the SIC.

MD. So SIC Insurance Plc is Ghana’s oldest indigenous Insurance Company which focuses on general insurance business lines i.e. Motor, Fire, Accident, Marine and Aviation as its main business lines.

We are a purpose-driven general insurance Company that offers a comprehensive portfolio of affordable business and individual insurance products. The Company has about 499 staff strength with over 600 Company registered Insurance Agents on the market.

SIC Insurance operates from over 26 business offices all across Ghana and work with several prominent Reinsurance companies in Switzerland, United Kingdom, South Africa, Nigeria, Asia among other countries.

In the last couple of years my goal has been to demystify insurance to the average Ghanaian to bring an understanding that make the insuring public feel secure about their future because of the insurance support they have with SIC Insurance. In a nutshell, SIC Insurance sells general insurance to Ghana’s insuring community

Amandla. Obviously, you’ve brought some innovations to the SIC. Did these changes generate substantial revenue/productivity? Tell us about them.

MD. Yes, I can confidently say that with the exception of the first two years when I joined, that is September 2017 and the year after 2018 when I was trying to understand the dynamics of the Ghanaian insurance market, the Company has exceeded its targets for years 2019, 2020,2021 and 2022. In fact, the average growth over the last five-year period is 16.5% which I think is very impressive.  

Under my leadership, we stopped the decline and the situation where the Company was not meeting its yearly targets. We are seeing a steady growth year on year and that obviously has translated to seeing the bottom-line improve year on year as well as well as improvement in many other ratios.

Amandla. People are generally opposed to changes. Did you encounter resistance within and outside the SIC upon introducing these new ideas?

MD. This is usually a natural phenomenon everywhere when people are not sure about who their leader is and what he brings on board. I was prepared for such expectations but with a good team around me I managed to overcome the hurdles and the results are very evident for all to see. In my third year as Managing Director, the Company swept about 6 top awards at one of the prestigious Insurance Industry Awards ceremony. I believe that also contributed to acceptance both within and outside the Company.

Amandla. Did you maintain the status quo of prior corporate culture, or you did change the dynamics?

MD. My approach was to identify what works with the existing corporate culture and what we can do differently to improve the overall operations of the Company and enhance efficiency. There is always the danger of throwing away the existing culture and pushing a new culture agenda.

In my first two years, because change is a vital component of turnaround strategies, I tried to align the existing employee culture with my immediate and future business/corporate objectives. So I tried to highlight areas that we collectively needed to improve and carry everyone along and it worked for me. I also ran an open door policy to solicit ideas from individuals and teams and when we encountered challenges, we addressed and overcame them and moved on.

To turnaround organizations, fostering a great company culture is always important and cannot be overemphasized.

Amandla. How informed is the average Ghanaian on insurance policies, and how far has the SIC under your leadership educated the former?

MD. There is still so much to do on the Ghanaian Market when it comes to educating the insuring public.

Insurance penetration is simply the total gross premium of the insurance industry as a share of GDP and this has remained at around 1% for a long time.

In Africa, South Africa has the continent’s highest penetration rate, at 17%, followed by Namibia with 6.3%. Ghana’s relatively low premium is partially responsible for the country’s muted penetration and I always say that 1% penetration was largely created by SIC Insurance.

So the average Ghanaian is not informed at all about insurance policies unlike other markets. SIC Insurance is playing a key role in making sure there is improvement in this area. We are collaborating with other industry stakeholders to mount mass education campaigns across the entire country.  We have already joined the Ghana Insurance Association to do mass education and marketing for the insurance industry.

On our own, we ran campaigns in the many regions where we operate from and jointly work through major media networks to drive educational programs and awareness campaigns every year.

We spend a sizable part of our Marketing and Advertising budgets to support these campaigns.

Amandla. You spent most of your adult working life in New Jersey, USA, where insurance policy is required for both movable and non-movable properties. Is it same in Ghana?

MD. Unfortunately, the answer is no and that in itself explains where penetration is very low in Ghana. Most people are sometimes not comfortable with putting values on their properties especially the non-movable one because the mortgage culture is almost non-existence in Ghana. A lot of people build their home by themselves and insurance is the last thing they consider. The only compulsory insurances are auto, fire for hotels and some public places. The sad part is that the government does not insure their properties. We are working very hard to convince the government to start insuring their building.

Amandla.  Most Ghanaians living abroad have commercial and private properties in Ghana. How much effort has the SIC effected to market their portfolios to these Ghanaians?

MD. It has not been easy trying to reach the diaspora community with our insurance packages for their investments back home in Ghana. I believe Amandla offers an avenue we can explore to target Ghanaians living abroad.

I am grateful to Amandla for this opportunity and look forward to future opportunities to engage our brothers and sisters to trust Ghana’s preferred insurance company to help them insure their investments back home.

Amandla.  Are you considering running for a future political office?

MD. Well, just like my country saw a need and asked me to come back home and help, I am sure I will weigh my options and see when the need arises and after I am done with this assignment. One step at a time I should say.

Amandla. What message do you have for Ghanaians living abroad once they are invited by a ruling government to assume an office/position?

MD. There is still so much to do in building, developing and transforming our beloved Motherland Ghana. I would say if you are called upon to come home and help in any way possible, weigh your options and if your situation and circumstance allows you to take up the challenge, please do because our Country needs help.

Thank you and congratulations on your achievement, Mr. Oduro

Amandla wishes you the best of everything

Posted by on Jul 12 2023. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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