Standard Insurance Consultants Limited (SICL), one of the top five insurance brokers in Nigeria, regulated by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), is marking its 43rd anniversary this week.
Established in 1980 by Ahmed Salawudeen, Group President and CEO of SICL, the firm has earned a reputation for its quality service, technical expertise, and impressive client base.
The journey of this company began humbly but grew into a giant iroko tree. Despite having limited capital and connections at the start, Salawudeen’s determination to pursue his own path propelled him forward, ignoring the conventional wisdom of spending years as an employee before venturing out.
As a devout Muslim, Salawudeen placed his trust in Allah for guidance, which has remained a constant source of strength throughout the ups and downs of business. Despite limited resources, what he possessed, along with his unwavering faith, was a grand vision. This allowed him to recognize the significant market opportunity in serving as an intermediary between insurance companies (risk carriers) and clients.
Challenging the norm, SICL started in a small office in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state, with a small team. In an industry known for high business mortality rates, SICL has experienced consistent growth.
According to PwC (Nigeria), approximately 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. This statistic does not even account for the percentage of established companies that falter or enter a state of stagnation due to various reasons including slow adaptation to emerging market trends, failure to meet client expectations, resistance to adopting innovative technologies, leadership transitions after the founder’s demise, management upheaval, lack of professionalism, unethical practices, inability to generate operating surpluses, and failure to meet regulatory capital requirements are among the main causes of business failure.
In the realm of business, no position is permanent. Salawudeen and his team have successfully navigated numerous challenges to position SICL at the forefront of the industry. This required the company to reinvent itself multiple times in response to changing market dynamics.
Forging partnerships with reputable international entities have become increasingly critical for insurance brokers in Nigeria. This makes SICL even more deserving of recognition for surpassing the annual attrition rate that is a reality in Nigeria’s business landscape.
For instance, management has discarded previously cherished notions when they are no longer aligned with prevailing market sentiment. This adaptability has been a valuable lesson, emphasising that rigidity has no place in a thriving enterprise, except when it comes to ethical practices.
According to the Group President and CEO, there are seven key factors that can be attributed to SICL’s success: client retention, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, a technically proficient and motivated management team, a compelling client proposition with prompt claims disbursement, technology innovation, and a focus on long-term value creation.
These factors form a cohesive framework that the Board of Directors employs to assess management performance.
Throughout its existence, SICL has pursued a strategy of maintaining a client retention rate of at least 90 percent, which has not dipped below 95 percent in the past five years. Moreover, the company has benefited greatly from client referrals due to its reputation for settling claims promptly.
In terms of regulatory compliance, SICL enjoys a good standing with NAICOM, the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), and holds licenses from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC), Nigerian Petroleum Exchange (NIPEX), and National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS).