Md. Jafar Sadeque Chowdhury
The insurance sector in Bangladesh is still in its adolescence. Less than 1% of the country’s population is insured, while the sector’s contribution to the economy is still below 1%. However, an increase in awareness about the necessity of insurance and a rise in the number of middle class and higher middle class population have meant that the industry is growing. Given that more than 99% Bangladeshis are yet to be insured, the possibilities of the sector are seemingly endless.
The growth of the insurance sector in Bangladesh is good news for the country’s economy on multiple levels. For example, the industry can contribute to tackling the country’s graduate unemployment problem. In 2014, a report sponsored by the British Council and prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says that nearly 5 out of every 10 graduates in Bangladesh (47%) are unemployed (against 3 out of 10 in India and Pakistan).
Among others, the insurance sector can be a messiah offering effective solution to the problem. There are job opportunities in many levels in an insurance organization that might attract a young graduate. The most recognizable job that is identified with an insurance company is that of a Financial Associate that is mostly known as agent, because the Financial Associates can be your risk adviser who represents an insurance organization in front of a potential customer. Other notable opportunities within an insurance organization include function like Claims, Human Resources, Actuary, Underwriting, IT, Marketing etc. Especially, proving as an actuary requires unique skills, would give young professionals an extra edge to excel in their career. The digitalization of operations which the insurance companies are undergoing, has created an opportunity for IT graduates to apply as well.
An aspiring insurance professional can pursue specialized education and training pertaining to the sector through more than one means. For example, Bangladesh Insurance Academy provides contemporary education and training related to both life and nonlife insurance. The Department of Banking and Insurance at University of Dhaka provides education and training with a focus on Banking and Financial Services. Recently, the department has introduced Master of Actuarial Science program. MetLife partnered with the department to support the Master of Actuarial Science course to cater high demand of the industry for experts of Actuarial Science. Beside Bangladesh Insurance Academy (BIA) and University of Dhaka, the company also supports study of actuarial science by providing scholarships to the students of the Department of Mathematics, University of Dhaka. It also provides it’s employees opportunity to study on insurance under LOMA, an international study program. East-West University also offers a diploma course on actuarial science. Besides, other business graduates as well as students from a variety of fields can look for opportunities to work in the insurance sector serving a myriad of available roles.
These developments signify a demand for skilled professionals in the insurance sector. Young students looking to develop a lasting and secure career in Bangladesh can safely opt to pursue the field. The first movers will get a definite advantage, because as the insurance industry flourishes, the demand for experienced and skilled personnel will naturally skyrocket.
Currently, there are two public sector insurance companies in Bangladesh. Added to that, there are 45 Non-Life and 31 Life Insurance companies in the private sector. As the industry grows, the demand for skilled professionals escalates. Young students and professionals are often oblivious of the vast opportunity that awaits them in the insurance industry. In insurance industry one can match his/her skill either as financial associate or as a management team member. More people than even before have started realizing the importance of insurance to manage the uncertainty and stress of life. The insurance companies have also become audible in communication with the stakeholder. A report published in a national daily says that, the insurance companies need to deploy skilled manpower to expect a better result. Added to that, better regulatory policies in place have given a better structure and direction to the sector in general. The prospects are very bright indeed.
In the USA where insurance is accepted as a way of life, the insurance sector’s contribution to National GDP was 2.6% in 2015. The sector in India is growing at a meteoric pace. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the insurance sector in the country experienced a whopping 22.5% growth from April 2015 to June 2016. The industry in both of these countries are providing employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of youth where the insurance sector of Bangladesh is also picking up pace towards that direction. This is the right time for fresh graduates to look for an opportunity in the insurance sector and for the current students to explore and pursue education and training in that direction.
The author is Chief Distribution Officer at MetLife Bangladesh
This article was published on September 06, 2016 in Financial Express