The growing middle class and increasing public awareness of insurance have led to a rising demand for various insurance products.
Correspondingly, the need for insurance agents is on the rise. This has created a demand for more qualified agents, as an agent should not be limited to marketing and sales, but also educating clients on how insurance plays its role in providing the right solutions for clients’ protection and future financial needs.
As quoted on its website, the council, under the coordination of the Capital Market and Financial Institution Supervisory Agency (Bapepam-LK), drafted National Working Competency Standards (SKKNI) for the insurance industry.
The draft led to the establishment of the SKKNI decree issued by the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry (Menakertrans) in April this year, highlighting the objectives of an insurance business that leads to win-win solutions for clients, from the underwriting process to helping clients with advisory service and making a claim.
The Indonesian Life Insurance Association (AAJI), which was also involved in drafting the SKKNI, feels that the decree is necessary as a reference point for insurance agents.
“At present, the number of certified agents in Indonesia is around 328,000,” AAJI chairman Hendrisman Rahim was quoted by Antara news agency, and the AAJI expects the industry to have as many as 500,000 agents in 2014.
The AAJI is convinced that, with SKKNI set as a competency standard, the increase in the number of agents will be in line with the targeted improvement in the agents’ overall performances.
Despite the presence of this new standard, several insurance companies claim to have long been operating with competent human resources on a par with international standard practices.
Nelly Husnayati, vice president director and chief agency, employee benefits and syariah officer of life insurance firm Asuransi Jiwa Manulife Indonesia, asserted that insurance companies had changed the orientation of their agents by not limiting them to simply being sales people.
“They are now functioning more as financial planners and consultants who help people identify their future goals, and advise them on how to realize their financial plans in the future.”
Thus the potential to develop more resources working for the insurance sector is huge. “In saying that, the insurance sector really needs a lot of talent to support the industry not only in the distribution channels but also in the back office ranging from customer service and operations, to underwriting and actuarial activities.”
In equipping and developing its sales force, Manulife regularly holds training programs designed to enhance the competence of the company’s agents and managers, to streamline work processes and to produce specialists.
“It is important for an insurance company to create more deliverables for its agents, as they are the frontline people who represent the company’s products and services. A training program should focus on boosting not only the sales force to achieve higher growth, but no less importantly, productivity and manpower growth,” Nelly said.
The right guidance
Oemin Handajanto, chief executive officer of Zurich Topas Life, believes that as the insurance industry grows, the standard of human resources in the insurance sector is likely to rise, not only in quantity but also in quality.
“The talent in the industry will amplify their skills and knowledge to compete, and be the top dog. To achieve this, you need to have the right guidance,” Oemin said.
At Zurich, guidance means that agents are not only going in with a sales pitch when they meet prospective clients. “It is crucial that an agent is capable of analyzing the needs of his or her prospective client. This should be the first step before going to the next one, which is advising on the products that fit the client’s needs,” Oemin explained.
He stressed the importance of an insurance company recruiting competent agents through very thorough selection procedures. Those who passed the selection should have the opportunity to participate in continuous training programs.
“Our development program is designed as a training roadmap that includes not only honing sales skills but also building a solid relationship with clients. To achieve this, an agent must be able to deliver clear product information to his or her prospective clients. This way, we can bring to the table what the client expects from having an insurance policy,” Oemin said.
By Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in The Jakarta Post, October 18, 2013.