Aig-Imoukhuede: Leaving Transformational Imprint on Wapic Insurance

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Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede

After eight years of diligent and committed service, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, on Monday retired as the Chairman of Wapic Insurance and its subsidiary, Wapic Life Assurance Limited, where he drove a transformation agenda which saw both organisations emerge as industry leaders, writes Oluchi Chibuzor

The ability to inspire people and an organisation with shared vision is one of the most important tasks and critical tests of leadership.

According to Michael Bunting, a leadership and mindfulness author, leaders who envision the future by imagining exciting and even ennobling possibilities inspire their team in achieving the organisational goals.
Bunting, also pointed out in one of his works that inspiring a shared vision engages people and increases their effectiveness, just as he stressed that organisational transformation is often a tough and usually brutal process.
“Organisational transformation is a daunting and painful process. In effect, it is the death of one thing and in its place the birth of something else. This is classically represented by the caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

“The problem for the caterpillar is that it literally has to die, to go through the messy process in the cocoon, and what comes out – a butterfly – does not eat the same things as a caterpillar, does not see the world from the same viewpoint, and does not even have remotely the same body. That is true transformation,” Bunting explained.

This, clearly, was the case with Wapic Insurance Plc and its subsidiary, Wapic Life Assurance Limited, under the leadership of their immediate past Chairman, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, who retired on Monday.
Indeed, great leaders always strive to inspire change through vision.

Before he retired, Aig-Imoukhuede held the enviable record of being the Chairman of both Wapic Insurance Plc and Wapic Life Assurance. To keep faith with company’s Board succession plan, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu was announced to succeed him as Chairman of Board of Directors of Wapic Insurance, while Mr. Bababode Osunkoya will take over from him as Chairman of Wapic Life Assurance. Mr. Frank Beecham, the current Chairman of Wapic Insurance (Ghana) Ltd will retain his position until the end of his tenure.

Following its divestment from non-banking subsidiaries in 2013, Access Bank Plc then distributed all its shareholding in Wapic Insurance to its 800,000 plus shareholders by way of a special dividend.
These shareholders then challenged the new Board with the responsibility of repositioning the company and turning around its fortunes. The Board, under the leadership of Aig-Imoukhuede, articulated a transformation agenda which would see Wapic emerge as a regional leader in the insurance sector.

Some of the key highlights of the agenda were: recapitalising the organisation for competitiveness; brand revitalisation; entrenching a culture of excellence; recruiting and developing talented employees; transforming customer experience; and digitisation and automation.

The company last week became the first Nigerian motor insurer to offer customers refunds on their insurance premiums. This act of empathy was made in line with Wapic’s understanding that most drivers are stuck at home and unable to drive their motor vehicles in line with the COVID-19 pandemic stay at home policy.
Beyond financial and other contributions the company has made to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, both as an entity as well as in collaboration with its peers in the industry, Wapic has continued to show that it is serious about supporting its customers, particularly the most vulnerable, during this difficult time.

Recapitalisation for Competitiveness
According to a report, to ensure that Wapic was properly positioned to underwrite serious business and to be amongst the top players in the industry, the Board was confronted with the task of recapitalising for competitiveness.
At the time Aig-Imoukhuede took over the leadership of the Board, Wapic Insurance’s total capital was N4.7 billion.
Known for his track record as a turnaround expert, Aig-Imoukhuede and the team successfully recapitalised the business to the tune of N23.1billion, between 2011 and 2019, a significant 400 per cent growth.

It is noteworthy that the General business which has already met the 2018 NAICOM recapitalisation requirement is now also well positioned to recapitalise its Life subsidiary business in 2020.

Therefore, as Aig-Imoukhuede retires from the Board of Wapic Insurance and its subsidiary, Wapic Life Assurance, the good news for Wapic is that the new Board would inherit a very strong and robust company that ticks all the right boxes.

“The expectation from the industry is that the Board that is taking over at a time when the business is among the top five most recapitalised insurance companies in Nigeria can, within 10 years, takes the company to over a N100 billion capitalisation base on the track record and the percentage increase of its current capital, thereby building upon the legacy of the Aig-Imoukhuede leadership,” an industry analyst who preferred to remain anonymous said.

Brand Revitalisation
Indeed, at the centre of any business transformation is what the brand stands for and the promise it makes to its ecosystem of customers and potential customers, shareholders, employees and regulators.

Brand revitalisation is essential in improving a brand to meet changing demands and requirements of consumers in an evolving market. Brand revitalisation is also important to recover and reposition a brand in the mind of consumers because brands are key to a company’s long-term survival and market leadership. Formerly known as Intercontinental Wapic Insurance, the Aig-Imoukhuede -led Board, worked with the management team on a rebranding exercise that not only changed the company’s name to Wapic Insurance, but also established a relevant and compelling promise to all customers and stakeholders.

The rebranded Wapic Insurance was supported by a new brand identity, which included a new logo, as well as focused internal and external communication which aligned all stakeholders and signaled the company’s new business trajectory and repositioning in the industry.

“This deliberate and strategic action announced that Wapic Insurance was heading in a new direction, a major milestone in the company’s repositioning.
“This was supported by the completion of a modern head office built in line with state-of-the-art sustainability principles.
“The brand has become a source of pride to all stakeholders and Wapic has become a credible partner to customers and counterparties, large and small, both locally and internationally,” the report added.

Entrenching Culture of Excellence
Also, to elicit trust in the company’s values, the Board championed an organisation-wide cultural re-orientation and change management programme with excellence, professionalism and integrity at the heart of its DNA.

With the support of management consultancy, Accenture Nigeria, Wapic embraced a high-performance mindset through important shifts in organisational practices, employee attitudes and behaviour. With that, principles of excellence, integrity and professionalism became entrenched in the organisation across all levels of operation and the company established the Wapic Insurance Academy to deliver a 4-month postgraduate ‘boot camp’ to the best-of-the-best university graduates, as a precondition to employment in the company.

To date, the Academy has produced five classes of Entry Level Trainees totaling 120 Trainees from Nigeria and Ghana.
As a reinforcement of its resolve, Wapic Insurance also entered into an arrangement with the Lagos Business School (LBS) to support the development of mid-level to senior management employees as well as partnerships with global re-insurance companies such as Munich Re who deliver bespoke training for key talent.

“Today, Wapic Insurance does not only pride itself as one of the best places to work in Nigeria – the company has become a convergence point for highly motivated and talented employees, pushing the boundaries of innovation in the Nigerian insurance sector,” it added.

Furthermore, to strengthen Wapic Insurance’s operations, the Board approved and instituted a number of leading practices in corporate governance and risk management policies.
Similarly, the company assembled a team of highly qualified and reputable non-executive directors to strengthen the corporate governance of both the parent company and its subsidiaries. Through stringent adherence to high standards of governance, Wapic Insurance has over time become a reference point for leading market practice.
“As a company, Wapic Insurance has taken pride in being the first NSE listed company to establish a Board Technology Committee.

“The firm’s passion for sustainability has seen the company play a leading role at industry events, such as the 2014 National Insurance Summit, which was the first of its kind in Nigeria, further supported by the move to establish a sector-wide, shared-claims bureau to radically improve claims payment by all operators.
“Wapic is serious about best practice and has implemented a stringent Business Continuity Programme aimed at safe-guarding the organisation and its people and ensuring prevention and recovery measures are in place,” it added.

Transforming Customer Experience
Similarly, Wapic has invested time in understanding customers’ needs and developing processes to create a unique and excellent customer experience, enabling it to reengineer its service delivery in order to ensure a seamless customer journey across all touch points.

The company also deepened engagement with its customers through convenient electronic channels as well as personal client visits, using its Financial Service Advisors (FSA) and Contact Centre agents.

As the company continues on its transformational journey to restore confidence in the insurance industry through prompt claims payment processes and a pleasant customer experience, Wapic has committed to pushing beyond all boundaries in its levels of service delivery.

Digitisation and Automation
For the size of its business, Wapic Insurance has a robust IT infrastructure, supporting its automation and digitisation. The company invested in several state-of-the-art technology solutions and applications to boost its operational efficiency upon realising the scale of transformation that would be required to take its operations to industry-leadership.
As service excellence was at the core of its operations, Wapic Insurance strengthened service delivery and quality with the adoption of WapX, an excellent world-class core insurance application developed by Asseco Europe.

With WapX, Wapic Insurance now seamlessly rolls out digital insurance products and services. This first mover strategically heralded a new dawn in operational delivery and service excellence for the insurance industry in Nigeria.

Wapic Insurance was the first in West Africa to deploy a Core Insurance Application of this level supporting current and future capability. Aside from the internal efficiencies that the application brings (which includes giving the customer an end-to-end view of their transactions) the application has an in-built Internet Insurance Portal that empowers individuals, brokers and agents to be in control of initialising, managing and terminating most transactions from the convenience of their offices and homes.

In addition, the application provides Wapic Insurance the capability to connect their agents, channels and various partner platforms through well-secured application programming interfaces (API). The core insurance application supported by a robust array of other applications including the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform using Microsoft Nav, the refreshed and reinvigorated wapic.com website with the online functionalities and the Historical Data Portal (HDP).
The new solutions have brought faster processing time, speedy resolutions, improved document management and an altogether slick and convenient customer experience.

Conclusion
In a bold move to push the business to next phase of growth, shareholders and other stakeholders expect the two new Board leaders to build upon the robust legacy of Aig-Imoukhuede’s Board.
In his farewell speech, the former Chairman spoke highly of his two successors, their suitability for the job and the unimpeachable credentials they both exhibit.

He explained: “My dear colleagues, Mr. Sunmonu is a respected business leader, with extensive board experience in various organisations across multiple sectors of the economy.

“He is well prepared to lead the next phase of the Wapic Insurance growth plan. He is the former Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, with an Oil & Gas career spanning over 36 years in Nigeria, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

“Similarly, Mr. Osunkoya, who until his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Wapic Life Assurance, was the Chairman of the company’s Board Audit and Compliance Committee, having being appointed to the company’s Board in January 2013.
“Mr. Osunkoya is a Senior Partner at the Chartered Accounting firm of Abax-OOSA Professionals, boasting over two-decade cognate experience in banking, business and financial advisory. He is one of Nigeria’s foremost certified Forensic Auditors, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN); he will champion Wapic Life Assurance’s growth objectives in this phase of the transformation agenda.”

“As I retire from the Boards of Wapic Insurance and Wapic Life Assurance today, I am confident that Messrs. Mutiu Sunmonu and Bababode Osunkoya will enjoy the necessary support towards the actualisation of our outlined institutional goals in this second phase of our Transformation Agenda.”

It is noteworthy that even on the eve of Aig-Imoukhuede’s retirement from the Board of Wapic, the company continues to lead the industry as the first Nigerian underwriter to refund 100 per cent premium on motor insurance to its customers.
The company understands that its customers are experiencing unprecedented circumstances and many are struggling to cope during this period, leading to the generous decision to refund customers in recognising that they are making a sacrifice by staying at home and supporting the country in flattening the curve of the pandemic.

“With a sense of fulfilment, Wapic Insurance has successfully transformed into an insurance company of choice. The series of implemented corporate actions have established the company as a leader championing customer-centric initiatives and programmes aimed at industry transformation,” he added.