Who is a Professional?
The term professional is used in its generic form to refer to anyone who earns their living from performing an activity that requires a certain level of education, skill, or training. These activities typically require a standard of competency, knowledge or education to be demonstrated (often in the form of an examination), as well as adhering to codes of conduct and ethical standards.
Conventionally, the most common sets of professionals included medical doctors, lawyers, engineers and architects. In the last few decades, however, the increase in demand for essential services including financial services like Insurance, has given rise to other sets of professionals like stock brokers, human resource practitioners, public relations practitioners, marketers, and allied service providers. The definition of a professional has therefore been explained to include the following:
1. Expert in the field which one is practising,
2. Excellent practical and literary skills in relation to profession,
3. High quality in work,
4. High standard of ethics,
5. Reasonable work morale and motivation,
6. Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues, and commitment to the field.
In line with their duties, professionals are often exposed to various perils, which may not only undermine their competences, but also cause them financial and other losses.
Akin to our ancient artisanal tradition where after their period of apprenticeship artisans or craftsmen are made to undergo ‘initiation’ ceremonies to indicate their readiness to independently offer their professional services to the public, most professional groups such as medical doctors, accountants, engineers, pharmacists and insurers, after several years of professional training, are often inducted before they commence professional practice.
For the members of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana (CIIG), the maiden induction ceremony will not only be an initiating into one of the World’s most renowned professions, but an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to upholding high professional and ethical standards.
Typically, an Induction Ceremony is the symbolic beginning to a member’s service as a professional in any profession, with class! It is also a key element in the lifelong membership of an established and renowned professional body. A thoughtful induction, followed by a thorough orientation and meaningful involvement in the insurance space are expected to keep all professionals interested and engaged in the Institute. As with any thoughtful action, induction ceremonies require proper preparation in order to be meaningful for the most important persons attending - the members being inducted.
The CIIG’s Initiative
It is in line with these similar standards that the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana (CIIG) has decided to induct all qualified practitioners in the Ghanaian insurance space for the first time in history. The event under the theme: ETHICAL VALUES FOR AN EFFECTIVE INSURANCE PROFESSIONAL couldn’t have come at a better time as the industry is going through some cleansing!
The 2019 Seminar on the above subject will be held on Thursday, July 18, 2019, as prelude to the first-ever induction ceremony to be held by the CIIG on Friday, July 19, 2019. The seminar will seek to address matters of ethical standards of the noble and enviable profession of Insurance. Indeed, the current happenings in the insurance industry in particular and the financial services sector in general; leading to some necessary regulatory reforms and interventions to safeguard the sector, gives impetus to the relevance of the theme for the seminar, at this time.
Sophisticated clients and professionals with the desire to impress
Insurance clients have become sophisticated as they are presented with alternatives by way of choice of insurers, practitioners and products vis-a-vis their premium/pricing, as practitioners provide advice on insurance with the view to promoting the need for insurance. Insurance practitioners willing to help their clients identify their (clients’) insurance needs and also help the clients to decide on what to insure and where to insure and at what rate, require the highest level of professionalism and ethical standards.
As a key stakeholder, the CIIG, as dynamic as it has become, is determined to introduce various initiatives and perspectives to the narrative including introducing thought provoking constructive debate with the aim of deepening consensus around the subject of ethical practice. To this end, CIIG’s choice of the theme: ‘Ethical Values for An Effective Insurance Professional’ can only be described as timely and appropriate.
What do we expect?
With this theme, is it not possible therefore to conjecture that the seminar would seek to address issues regarding the much talked about premium rate undercutting which is a canker and still being dealt with, as difficult as it is, to exorcise a ghost!
A ‘ghost’ because pundits of the profession believe that, premium rate undercutting does exist as some companies desire to please their clients by getting competitive rates for them to levels that could simply pass for uneconomic yet no one admits the facts of being a culprit!
The seminar is also expected to present the industry’s practitioners with a good dose of good ‘health tips’ for the good of the insurance industry and having professionals who ‘know what time it is’!
The practice of placing insurance businesses with cronies and friends without recourse to their efficiency and effectiveness are likely to be discussed extensively.
Is it also possible that the seminar will address the issue of some intermediaries placing businesses in overseas markets without exhausting the local capacity?
Product Development and Innovation
Notwithstanding the grave competition between the over 52 licensed insurance companies in Ghana, product innovation is almost non-existent. It is refreshing to note that the new wind of change through the induction would help Insurers focus more on product enhancements, by tweaking the benefits, in order to create distinct identity for their products. This will create a regime where companies compete on their features, instead of some finding ways to unethically outwit each other on pricing.
This will invariably restore the eroding public confidence and trust in the industry, whiles creating the enabling conditions to increase the gross written premiums and penetration.
What the public should expect after this maiden induction ceremony is enhanced and sustained provision of good quality insurance services, going forward.
CIIG – Professionalism, Integrity, Excellence!