This Month (1st June 2023) marks the 43rd anniversary of Standard Insurance Consultants Limited (SICL). A top-5 Insurance Broker regulated by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM). SICL was founded in 1980 by Professor Ahmed Salawudeen.
The Company enjoys a solid reputation for the quality of its service, technical expertise, and enviable roster of clients. The giant iroko celebrated today started from a humble seed. In its germination stage, young Salawudeen had very little capital, and few connections. But his impatience to do his own thing blinded him to those shortcomings. “Why wait ten years marking time as an employee before venturing out when you can begin today?” he asked himself.
Being a devout Muslim, the British-trained insurance practitioner placed his full trust and reliance on Allah for guidance. Over the years, his religious conviction has stood him in good stead through the fickle fortunes of business from which no CEO is exempt. Despite possessing meagre means, what he did possess, aside his faith, was a big vision. This allowed him to see the huge market opportunity in acting as an intermediary between insurance companies, known as the risk carriers, and clients.
A MESSAGE FROM THE FOUNDER
BUCKING THE TREND
Starting in a small office at Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, with a handful of staff, SICL has maintained a steady growth in a sector characterised by high mortality rate of companies.
According to PwC (Nigeria), about 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years of operation. Sobering as this figure is, it does not take into account the percentage of mature companies that bite the dust or enter zombie phase each year due to various reasons. Autopsies show that the main causes of death for business are slow adaptation to emerging market trends, inability to meet up to client expectations, failure to adopt the innovative technologies, death of a founder followed by contested succession process, management churn, lack of professionalism in dealings, unethical practices, consistent inability to deliver an operating surplus, and failure to meet the regulatory capital benchmark. To this extensive list, it is pertinent to add the signing of partnerships with reputable international partners an increasingly critical aspect of insurance broker success in Nigeria. These are all the more reason why SICL deserves applause for scaling past the annual brutal culling of companies that is a reality of Nigeria’s business environment.
IN BUSINESS, NO POSITION IS PERMANENT
Prof. Salawudeen and his team have successfully juggled multiple balls in the air to take SICL to the top shelf of the industry. To do so, the company has had to reinvent itself on numerous occasions in line with shifts in its operating environment.
For example, notions cherished by the Management just a decade ago have been jettisoned when they no longer aligned with prevailing market sentiment.
In the same vein, SICL has not hesitated to dismiss other elements in its strategy that were exposed as outdated. The lesson learned is that outside of business ethics, rigidity has no place in the successful enterprise.
7 KEYS OF SICL SUCCESS
Standard Insurance Consultants Limited is a subsidiary of Standard Group Holdings, a multinational cross-sectoral business group with interests in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and property investment through Signature Global Real Estate (SGRE), a Real Estate Brokerage and Property Management Company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
On this forty-third year of operations, SICL takes great pride in where it has reached, and how it got there. There are 7 key factors that can be identified as responsible for SICL’s success. These are client retention, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, technically sound and motivated management, compelling client proposition founded on prompt claims disbursement, technology innovation, and focus on long-term value creation.
These form an organic whole that the Board of Directors uses to appraise management performance.
Since it was founded, SICL has pursued a strategy of maintaining a client retention rate of no less than 90 percent. In the last 5 years, the retention rate has not dropped below 95 percent. Furthermore, due to its reputation for settling claims “as and when due” SICL has benefitted immensely from referrals by satisfied clients.
On the regulatory front, SICL is in good standing with NAICOM, and the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB). It is also licensed by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC), Nigerian Petroleum Exchange (NIPEX) and National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS).
With cumulative experience of over 200 years, the management team at SICL is one of the most experienced in the Insurance broking industry. Their technical prowess covers Oil & Gas, Aviation and Space, Construction/Operational, Agriculture, Life and Pension, Marine, including but not limited to Protection & Indemnity (P&I), Special Risks, as well as Reinsurance Programme generally.
Key members of the Executive Management team include Mr. Oladipo Bolaji Zaheed, Managing Director of SICL Reinsurance Limited, Mr. Augustine Ayi, Chief Operating Officer of SICL, Femi Owolabi, Deputy Managing Director, Mrs. Zainab Bakare, Legal/ Business Development Director, Mr. Abdulazeez Jubril, Group CFO, Mr. Fred O. Ishe, General Manager (Technical), Mr. Rabiu S. Kadamu, Chief Coordinator, Northern Operations, Mr. Oladele Kadiri, General Manager, Northern Operations (Technical), Mr. Mukaila Oyegunmade, Director, Finance, and Mr. Eyo Eyo Idiong, Director, Human Resources.
In Human Resources Management, it is trite that a company’s people are its most important asset. SICL supports employees’ professional development through professional certifications, and training to stay abreast of latest global best practices.
Finally, to ensure that its clients’ risks are properly spread, SICL has strong relationships with five reputable Technical Partners at Lloyd’s of London namely Gallagher, Willis, NDI Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers, Howden Broking, and London Marine Insurance Services.
ACCOLADES AND DISTINCTIONS
Observant of SICL’s innovation and market leadership, independent bodies have bestowed a number of highly regarded awards and recognitions on the company. Notable among these is the coveted Insurance Broker of the Year (2021, 2022) at BusinessDay’s Banks and Other Financial Institutions Awards.
For these achievements, Professor Salawudeen, the Group President and Chairman of Standard Group Holdings is justifiably regarded as the Colossus of Insurance Broking in Africa. Having paid his dues, he has received several international awards for leadership in business. For four consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020), he has received the prestigious “World Leader Businessperson’ award from the World Confederation of Businesses (WORLDCOB).
In 2021, the UAE Africa Networking Group, a Dubai-based networking business platform that promotes collaboration between top business leaders in the United Arab Emirates and their peers in the African continent, bestowed on Salawudeen the “Titan of Africa” recognition. This recognition was for his immense contributions to the development of closer commercial and cultural ties among countries in the Middle East and Africa.
In the same year, Foreign Investment Network (FIN) in partnership with Forbes honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence at the FIN-FORBES Africa-UAE Trade and Investment Forum held at the Burj Al Arab, Dubai.
During a webinar with employees and partners to mark the event from his Dubai base, Salawudeen said that “Except Allah blesses a venture, the worker toils in vain. SICL that we see today owes everything to His favour. It has been an exciting journey. No-one builds a business for 43 years all by himself. I thank the federal and state government, regulator, our partners, management and employees for the support given to come this far. I am optimistic that the next forty-three years will be more awesome. This is the time to do more.”
Credit: Obiora Onyeaso