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60 Years of Insurance Broking: Redefining the Practice and the Practitioners

Keynote Address Delivered by Heirs Holdings Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, at the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) 60th Anniversary Colloquium and Book Launch


Good morning all, our Chief Host, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor of Lagos State, the Chairman of the Occasion, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, Executive Governor of Ondo State, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, the President & Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Mr. Rotimi Edu, Insurance Practitioners present here today, and all distinguished guests present here, members of the media.

Let me start by congratulating the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers on its 60th Anniversary, and for organising this wonderful event, to mark this important milestone. We are here to celebrate the role that insurance can play, should play and must play in our society. We are here to celebrate the past, but also to look forward – let us be candid, there is much to be done in our industry, if it is to truly to realise its potential and serve our common good. I know the good that can come from a deep and well-regulated financial services.

As the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, my family-owned investment company, we change lives in Africa and are transforming our continent – Financial services are a critical pillar of what we do – that is why we launched Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life.

That is why at United Bank for Africa – UBA – we transformed access to banking, made banking available to the people, in Nigeria – but also across Africa. That is why UBA is present both on our continent and also in France, USA, UK, and, most recently, the UAE, in Dubai.

At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are empowering young Africans across the 54 countries of our continent. So far, over 15,000 young African entrepreneurs have benefitted directly from our Foundation. We know that access to capital is scarce, and support networks are poor – we fill the gap.

We democratise luck – just as we democratised banking and are democratising insurance. Simply put – financial services are not a privilege, but a right – we want to make simple, smart insurance available to all.

The Importance of Insurance

We all understand the pivotal role insurance plays in any society. Our industry provides the much-needed safety and security. We allow our people to save, to think ahead, to secure their futures – what we do is precious.

As an industry, we mobilise funds and we should be deploying those funds for the broader benefit of our economy. Families receive financial security, assets are protected against hazards, and businesses continue to run. An economy is therefore as advanced as its insurance sector.

But let us ask ourselves are we doing enough? We need to be candid and frank. Our industry’s contribution to the national GDP is tiny. Our reputation could be better, our practices more professional, our promises to our customers always honoured.

A deep, well-regulated industry is a benefit for all – not least for the professional broker – the trusted and necessary confidant of the client.

It is a time of great pessimism – but I am not a pessimist. I see the opportunities, I see our industry’s potential, so let us all join together for the common good.

NCRIB’s Contributions

The quality of governance, institutions, and practitioners of the sector is critical. That is why we are celebrating 60 years of the NCRIB – an institution almost as old as our country.

Let me celebrate your commitment to professionalism, to education and to our industry. Members of NCRIB have, over the years, facilitated insurance businesses in hundreds of billions of naira, delighted millions of Nigerians with your insurance services, and ensured that claims are settled.

Redefining the Practice and the Practitioners

But let us not be complacent. Let us not shy away from uncomfortable truths. There is always room for improvement. We must strive to achieve the highest levels of professionalism and dedication in delivering excellent service to the public, who rely on us to provide them with comfort.

I want to highlight key areas, where we can do better, if Nigeria is to get the insurance industry our country deserves. Let us talk about:

Governance and compliance – the elimination of unprofessional practices

The need for innovation – the power and imperative of technology

How we should promote and raise awareness of insurance

Our objective of a far deeper, highly capitalised industry – that serves the customer and channels long term investment to our economy

How to expand the sector by superior customer experience – smart-simple-trusted-quick settlement sector

In the area of Governance…

We as an industry need to enforce strict adherence to corporate governance by all NCRIB members. We should weed out non-registered and non-compliant members. The ones who tarnish the image of the broking profession and the industry at large. An insurance broker must be professional at all times.

In redefining the practice and practitioners in the broking profession, NCRIB should lead the war against many of the unethical practices that have troubled the industry for years.

We know these practices:

– Premium rate cutting
– Delayed premium remittance
– Unremitted premiums
– Overloading of premium
– Returned premium
– Fake documents
– Fraudulent claims
– Collusion to defraud
– Mis-selling
– Unhealthy competition
– Misrepresentations
– Manipulation of policy conditions
– Self-enrichment methods disguised as marketing expenses, and many more.

A sad litany, that stains those who want to do right. While NAICOM continues to play its guiding role as the industry regulator, NCRIB must ensure that appropriate sanctions are imposed on any of its members found using unethical practices.

We need to grow our industry – for all

Superior Customer Experience. The NCRIB and other insurance industry bodies should collaborate more, to deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria, and should play a key role in government advocacy for pro-insurance laws and policies.


Innovation is inescapable. At Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life, we champion innovation – we cannot afford not to. Our customers demand it and the industry needs it. The insurance industry can benefit from innovation across all aspects of our services. For this to happen, there is the need to reward and incentivise innovation across the industry. Set up industry annual innovation awards. The industry must also benchmark against global trends. Look at retail insurance.

Traditionally, brokers in the market have been recognised as corporate insurance specialists. It is time that the broker community began to shift focus to retail, because this is where the future of insurance lies in Nigeria. Brokers have the capacity to lead in this area.

Ladies and gentlemen, innovation and disruptive practices cannot occur, if we do not broaden our thinking and creativity. Profits from existing lines are not going to deepen insurance penetration, rather we must look at our biggest yet untapped market – the retail market.

We Must Create Awareness

There is a need to generate more awareness and showcase the value of insurance to the public, promoting participation, most especially in the retail space. We must bridge the insurance awareness gap, if we are to make insurance attractive to Nigerians.

In the Area of Technology…

To remain relevant in the modern business arena, the insurance broker community and, by extension, the entire Nigerian insurance industry, must embrace technology fully.

NCRIB also needs to work towards positioning its members properly for digital integration, mediating between the insuring public and the underwriters digitally.

The Next Generation

You know I believe in our young. There is need to capture our young in the insurance habits from cradle to grave. And there is an urgency to develop the next generation of talent to serve the Nigerian insurance industry. The broker community should rally and become the hub for the education and training of our youth.

In those days when I was in university, what drove me to want to join banking? It was the professionalism, the path to greater things, the sense of purpose – and yes the snappy suits….

We need to raise the profile of our insurance professionals, make the profession attractive for the younger generation – to be a broker should be an aspirational choice.

Forging Alliances

Apart from collaborating with other industry players as I mentioned earlier, redefining the brokerage profession will entail collaboration with non-industry practitioners as well. e.g., our regulators (CBN and NAICOM) should collaborate on clients KYC due diligence.

Insurance remains a viable tool for financial inclusion in every country and Nigeria cannot be an exception.

Our two insurance companies, Heirs Life Assurance and Heirs Insurance Limited, are both committed to democratizing access to insurance – which is a great tool for financial inclusion, employment creation, poverty eradication and women inclusion.

NCRIB as a body has the ability to partner with others to support financial inclusion drive in Nigeria. Government cannot do it all alone.

At Heirs Holdings, we believe and practice Africapitalism – my economic philosophy, that advocates for the private and public sectors to collaborate to achieve the unified goal of alleviating poverty and facilitating shared prosperity.


Let me conclude by thanking the organisers of the event for inviting me to address you all.

I am an optimist, not a pessimist. I know times are tough – but we can transform our industry – create value – personal and for our community.

Let us do this together, conscious of the improvements we can all make and the destiny we can all achieve. I know that together we can deepen the insurance sector in the country and provide innovative solutions and products that demonstrate the value of insurance to the Nigerian people.

Thank you.

Tony O. Elumelu, CON
Chairman, Heirs Holdings & Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation

| About Heirs Holdings

Heirs Holdings is a leading pan-African investment company. Its investment portfolio spans the power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate, and healthcare sectors, operating in twenty-three countries worldwide.

Heirs Holdings is inspired by Africapitalism, the belief that the private sector is the key enabler of economic and social wealth creation in Africa. Driven by this philosophy, Heirs Holdings invests for the long-term, bringing strategic capital, sector expertise, a track record of business success, and operational excellence to its portfolio companies.