How is Zurich keeping on top of all the regulatory change coming out of the UAE?
The amount of change, in terms of its regulatory development, is unprecedented.
Zurich’s position is quite clear. We are aware the regulatory world is moving towards greater transparency, more clarity, better education of advisers, better understanding of products and ensuring that customers are being offered solutions that really meet their financial needs.
We have seen regulatory change in Australia and the UK, and this is just another of the Zurich countries that is going through this development. What is interesting in the UAE is the sheer amount of change in a relatively short period of time.
We have had Circulars 33 and 12 from the IA. We fed back on a few minor points and the IA has been very receptive to working with the industry to ensure we get a smooth transition towards the new regulatory regime. I think that is progressing well.
Is Zurich affected by the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) changes?
The SCA regulations are something that affects the unit-linked fund space, and insurance companies are in that space.
We must wait and see what the final outcome of that will be but some progress has been made. The industry is working with the SCA to understand how insurance companies will be affected.
The fund houses know their products must be registered and authorised by the SCA, but the insurance company element still needs clarification.
There have also been bank regulations from the IA in draft form for years now, and we expect these will be implemented at some point.
Additionally, with an Isle of Man regulated head office, we have the changes being implemented by the Isle of Man FSA. Ultimately, it is all going in the same direction, which means clearer, better disclosure, and more transparency and control.
After a period of adaptation in the market, it will be a good long-term position to have a more regulated environment to work in.
What is Zurich’s FutureReady initiative?
FutureReady is providing a programme to help our distributors and financial advisers understand what the regulatory changes mean for them. It also explains how insurance companies can help; what they should be thinking about in terms of their client propositions; and how they can get future fit.
The programme is free and it provides a whole host of things, including third-party training where we will work with our asset management partners.
We will get experts to answer key questions, such as: how you go about getting your advisers qualified to the right level; how you restructure your IFA business to make sure it is efficient; how you provide customers with what they want within a cost model that’s commensurate with the size of the IFA business and with the revenue that you will be earning in the future.
Regulatory change is something that is happening globally and something that Zurich supports. It is important to understand what those changes are, so the transition can be as smooth as possible.
What are your plans for the future?
It is clear to me that, as an industry, we need better communication with our customers, better training for our distribution partners and greater transparency. We also need to be able to talk to customers in their own language so they understand what their needs are and what solutions best suit their needs.
There is a lot of change going on but, as I say to my colleagues, I wouldn’t change it. It is incredibly exciting and I would rather be with Zurich than any of our competitors.
Walter Jopp is chief executive for Zurich Middle East. In his 23-year career at the Swiss life insurer, Jopp has held several senior roles within Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
These have included developing key bank relationships at a global level and international business in Latin America and Scandinavia.
Jopp also worked as global head of sales for Zurich’s International business, where he led the sales operation for individual and corporate businesses with teams in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia.