Ceylinco Life retained its position as the market leader in Sri Lanka's life insurance industry in 2014, posting yet another strong performance despite challengingconditions. In this interview, the company's Managing Director/CEO Rajkumar Renganathan elaborates on this performance, as well as the benefits that accrue to multiple communities from the company's success.
: How did Ceylinco Life fare in 2014 in terms of business performance
A: Our performance in 2014 met our expectations, which means that we retained our position as the market leader for the 11th consecutive year. Total income for the year ending 31 December 2014 was
Rs 18.54 billion. Of this, premium income amounted to Rs 11.7 billion, and investment income was Rs 6.83 billion.
: Does this performance reflect an improvement in the conditions for life insurance
A: On the contrary, selling life insurance continues to be challenging. Disposable incomes were under pressure, despite indications that inflation is on the decline. This factor, combined with inadequate awareness in the market about the value of life insurance, results in a situation where many people consider life insurance a low priority, and it takes a determined and professional approach to convince the uninsured to buy a policy.
: To what then, do you attribute Ceylinco Life's successful performance
A: I believe it is our unwavering focus on business fundamentals and prudent investment strategies that have enabled the company to post an impressive performance year on year. We do not allow ourselves to be distracted by challenges or extraneous matters. We ensure that nothing derails our programme of work, including our commitments to the community. This was evident even in times of crisis for the Ceylinco Group, and our policyholders know that Ceylinco Life emerged stronger with each challenge it faced. Our 2014 results are an irrefutable indication that Ceylinco Life continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of policy holders and prospective customers.
: How does the company's continued success benefit the community
A: Our success and growth impacts many different segments. Our policy holders are the most important of these. It is their monies that we invest in order to be able to offer them and their loved ones the long term protection of life insurance. Therefore, our success means that they can rest easy, and that they receive bonuses and numerous other benefits. Another important segment is our staff and sales team. We employ about 4,000 people in sales. Our success means that they contribute productively to the economy. Our share holders are another obviously important segment that benefits from our success. Another important segment consists of the different sectors of the economy that we invest our funds in. And finally, the community at large benefits from our extensive portfolio of CSR initiatives, particularly in the area of schools infrastructure and healthcare, which would not be possible if the company was not successful.
: Could you quantify in some way, the benefits to these segments in financial terms
A: Benefits to policy holders, in the form of bonuses, claims, maturity and other benefits exceeded Rs 4,800 million in 2014 alone. Commissions to the sales force totalled Rs 1.3 billion for the year. Our community projects such as the donation of classroom buildings to schools, the donation of ICU facilities to hospitals and the free medical camps country-wide represent a commitment of about Rs 16 million in 2014. The dividend pay out to share holders in respect of 2014 amounted to Rs 528 million, in addition to the capital gains share holders enjoy from a share that is currently trading in the region of Rs 1,600. Our investment portfolio stood at Rs 57.2 billion at the end of 2014. And in terms of rewards to policyholders we presented scholarships worth more than Rs 8 million to their children, organised a Family Savari promotion that presented overseas holidays and a local excursion to more than 2,200 people from policy holder families.
: What sectors of the economy has Ceylinco Life invested in
A: At the end of 2014, Ceylinco Life's investment portfolio comprised of Government Securities (50 per cent); Licensed Private Banks (15 per cent); State Banks (9 per cent); Real Estate (9 per cent); Corporate Debt (14 per cent) and Others (3 per cent). These investments are made in conformity with the investment guidelines stipulated under the Regulation of the Insurance Industry Act No 43 of 2000 and are subject to regular monitoring by the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka (IBSL).
: In terms of new business, how did Ceylinco Life perform in 2014
A: We sold a total of 139,777 new policies in 2014 at an average of 11,648 per month. One noteworthy aspect was the improved sales of retirement plans which contributed to the growth in premium income. This is encouraging because there is a need to promote pension plans in Sri Lanka, given the ageing population and the absence of social security for retired people.
: Any other noteworthy achievements in 2014
A: For us, one of the highlights of the year was the international recognition the company received when World Finance adjudged Ceylinco Life the 'Best Life Insurance Company in Sri Lanka.' This prestigious magazine gave us high marks in several areas of assessment including efficiency in processing new business, focus on customer retention, employee and agent training, ensuring best practices within the company, financial performance, market research and measuring customer satisfaction.
Courtesy: Ceylon Financial Times 08 June 2015