The newest Family Takaful brand in Malaysia, one backed by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, is on the hunt for new partners – banks and non-banks alike including insuretech start-ups – as the company aggressively pushes forward to propel itself to top five in a league of 11 Family Takaful operators over the next five years.
Speaking to IFN Fintech, FWD Takaful CEO Salim Majid Zain confirmed that the operator is currently exploring potential partnerships with several entities from both the banking and non-banking sector including insuretech segment. This, Salim explained, is part of its strategy to grab a 15% market share by 2024, which would put it in the top five ranking, a huge leap from its current 10th position.
A reiteration of 13-year old HSBC Amanah Takaful which was bought over by Hong Kong-based FWD Group earlier this year, FWD Takaful has overhauled the brand both externally and internally with a refreshed branding strategy and operational approach, by positioning the company as an inclusive and progressive insurance company offering hassle-free affordable coverage, that happens to also be Shariah compliant.
Unsurprisingly, digital innovation is a major component to its expansion strategy. In the three short months since its debut in July, FWD Takaful has introduced its digital offering, the country’s first Takaful protection plan that can be participated online. This comes on the heels of the company introducing its agency channel two months ago: some 400 agents are attached to FWD Takaful currently, according to Salim, and the network is expected to hit 600 by the end of this year. The company also has a bancaTakaful arrangement with HSBC Amanah, therefore completing its distribution strategy with three major channels.
With currently two products – three including its digital single-certificate digital plan FWD Protect Direct – the operator will expand its product offering to include a critical illness plan and hospital benefit scheme over the next three months. Further digital offerings are also in the pipeline.
“We are not stopping here because we believe in the digital proposition; and in fact, our partnerships are also going digital. Our agencies are paperless and equipped with digital devices,” shared Salim, a insurance veteran whose track record include leading MAA Takaful as CEO for a decade before it was acquired by Zurich Insurance in 2016, where he continued to serve as CEO until January 2019.
In fact, FWD Takaful has collaborated with a homegrown health tech firm, Walnut Wellness, to launch FWD Hero Sihat, a digital health engagement tool providing users with free health and wellness consultation through Whatsapp. This, according to FWD Takaful’s chief strategy and digital distribution officer, Wan Ahmad Najib Wan Ahmad Lotfi, underscores the operator’s keenness to work with tech companies to drive up Takaful penetration rates in Malaysia, which currently stand at about 15%.
Established in 2013 and currently in nine countries, FWD Group has set aside RM1.06 billion (US$252.82 million) in total investment to be poured into its Takaful venture, the group’s first foray into Islamic insurance, over the next five years. It is learned that 60% of the group’s budget is allocated to enhancing its digital capabilities and this would also apply to FWD Takaful.