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Takaful industry has robust future

Takaful industry has robust future

Interview with Mr. Azeem Iqbal Pirani — CEO, Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Limited


Azeem’s most important role is that of a home educating father and spouse of a home educating mother. They started this adventure in 2008 when they took all their children out of school to begin the process of learning without the involvement of a school. Given this most important role he ends up spending a lot of time trying to assess how to contribute towards a better society for future generations.

On the professional front he is the CEO of Pak-Qatar Family Takaful (PQFTL), the first and largest dedicated Takaful group in Pakistan. On the social front, he is one of the founding trustees at Ihsaas Trust, a provider of microfinance, for developing a sustainable livelihood for the economically challenged, and social support.

A PGD in Islamic Banking & Finance from the Centre of Islamic Economics in Pakistan, an MBA in International Business from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and a BBA in Finance from the University of Houston in the USA are his academic credentials.

PAGE: What do you think about the growth prospects of the Takaful sector?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: The growth prospects of the Takaful sector are indeed promising. As an ethical and Shariah-compliant alternative to conventional insurance, Takaful has gained significant traction globally and within Pakistan. With increasing awareness of Islamic finance principles, a growing Muslim population, and a rising demand for socially responsible risk mitigation solutions, the Takaful sector is positioned for rapid growth. The sector’s potential is further enhanced by innovative product development, strategic partnerships for easy accessibility, and regulatory support that fosters a conducive environment for its expansion.

PAGE: How to measure the performance of Takaful activities in the health and life sector?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: The performance of Takaful activities in the health and life sector can be evaluated through a comprehensive set of key performance indicators. These include factors such as penetration rate, membership persistency, claims settlement ratio, underwriting prospect, customer satisfaction and growth in Takaful contributions. Strong data analytics, regular audits, and actuarial assessments are crucial in ensuring accurate measurement and effective decision-making in this sector.

PAGE: What actions, legal and administrative both, can a Takaful company take if fraud has been discovered?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: In the unfortunate event of fraud being identified, a Takaful company must act swiftly and decisively. From a legal standpoint, the company can engage legal authorities to pursue criminal charges against the fraud perpetrators. Administratively, internal investigations must be conducted with utmost professionalism and due process. Implementing stringent internal controls, and collaborating with regulatory bodies are key steps to prevent, identify, and address fraudulent tendencies, both internal and external.

PAGE: What kind of strategy would you formulate for collecting firm evidence in different types of claims? How would this evidence contribute to making a final claims decision?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Our strategy for collecting firm evidence in claims involves a meticulous approach. Depending on the nature of the claim, we deploy experienced claims assessors, utilise digital tools such as photo documentation, and collaborate with medical professionals or experts where required. This evidence serves as the foundation for a thorough evaluation, ensuring objective and fair claims decisions. Transparency in the process helps build trust with our clients, enabling them to understand and accept the final decision.

PAGE: Explain the terms and conditions of pension and health Takaful claims in your company? What types of covers do clients usually prefer?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Our pension and health Takaful claims adhere to clear and transparent terms and conditions outlined in the Takaful contract. For pension claims, eligibility criteria, vesting periods, and payout structures are stipulated. In health Takaful, coverage details, waiting periods, pre-existing conditions, and claim submission procedures are defined. Clients often prefer comprehensive coverage that caters to their specific needs, including family coverage, critical illness protection, and hassle-free claims processing.

PAGE: Explain the categories in corporate Takaful. What makes them different from other claims?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Corporate Takaful encompass a range of products tailored to meet the unique risk exposures of enterprises. Categories include group health Takaful, group life Takaful, while we have also introduced employee benefits Takaful by the name of Mahana Bachat & Takaful plan that is tailored to meet the requirements of each client. What sets these apart is the complexity of risks and the custom-tailored nature of coverage. Business and corporate Takaful policies often involve higher sum covered, intricate underwriting assessments, and specialised risk management services, catering to the diverse needs of businesses.

PAGE: How would you handle an irate client who has issues with services or products?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Handling an irate client requires a sensitive and professional approach. First, we would actively listen to their concerns, empathise with their perspective, and acknowledge their feelings. We then assure them that their feedback is valued and that we are committed to resolving the issue promptly. We work collaboratively with our customer services team to provide a satisfactory solution, keeping them informed throughout the process. Our goal is to turn their dissatisfaction into a positive experience.

PAGE: How can you make your products more customer-friendly? Any suggestions?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Enhancing customer-friendliness involves continuous innovation and responsiveness. We can simplify policy documentation, improve digital platforms for seamless interactions, and introduce educational materials to clarify product features. Regular surveys and feedback mechanisms help us better understand our clients’ preferences and expectations. Additionally, offering flexible payment options, timely communication, and personalized assistance contribute to a more customer-centric experience.

PAGE: Describe two or three major trends in the Takaful field.

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Several major trends are shaping the Takaful landscape. Firstly, the integration of technology is revolutionising distribution, claims processing, and customer engagement. Secondly, sustainable and environmental, social and governance considerations are gaining prominence, aligning Takaful with socially responsible investments. Lastly, increased collaboration between Takaful aggregators is fostering innovation and expanding market reach, creating a more dynamic and competitive industry.

PAGE: Tell us about the government’s support for the Takaful sector?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: The government has shown significant support for the Takaful sector through regulatory frameworks that encourage its growth. They have established Shariah-compliant guidelines and created a level playing field for Takaful operators. In addition, tax incentives, such as exemptions on certain contributions and distributions, have been implemented to promote Takaful participation. This support demonstrates the government’s commitment to fostering Islamic finance principles and enhancing financial inclusion.

PAGE: What is the level of competition in the Takaful sector?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: The Takaful sector has experienced a healthy level of competition, driven by the growing demand for ethical financial solutions. Both local and international players have entered the market, offering diverse product portfolios and innovative services. Most conventional providers have also setup their own Window Takaful operations. This competition has spurred product development, customer-centric approaches, and improved service quality, benefiting consumers and encouraging further growth in the sector.

PAGE: What must be done to attract investment in the Takaful sector?

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: Attracting investment in the Takaful sector requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes enhancing transparency through standardised reporting, offering competitive and attractive returns, and aligning products with investors’ risk preferences. Collaborating with investment experts, introducing Shariah-compliant investment opportunities, and showcasing the sector’s growth potential can also be instrumental in attracting both local and international investors.

It is also very beneficial for investors when they can see that the regulator, and other government institutions are focused on providing a platform for the industry conducive to grow, and thrive.

PAGE: Your views on the progress of Takaful in Pakistan:

Azeem Iqbal Pirani: The progress of Takaful in Pakistan has been encouraging. Over the years, Takaful has gained acceptance as a viable and ethical alternative to conventional insurance. The sector has witnessed steady growth, driven by increasing awareness of Islamic finance principles, regulatory support, and a growing preference for Shariah-compliant solutions. As Takaful operators, we are committed to continuously innovating, expanding our product range, and fostering financial inclusion to contribute to the ongoing progress of Takaful in Pakistan.

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