years in the insurance profession
As a young boy striving to become an insurance professional
in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, Sri Nihal Senaratne fought
loneliness by concentrating on his studies. I was feeling
a little lonely but completing my studies overcame my loneliness,
Senaratne recalled in an interview.
In 1954 the
20-year-old Senaratne was sent to work and study at the Royal Globe
head office in Liverpool. Aiming for a bright future, he started
doing the difficult Chartered Insurance Institute Exam of the UK
and completed the first stage. I was very focused, wanted
to complete stage II and III of the exam, gain experience and return
home. Those days you could do only one exam a year. He managed
to complete both exams in the next two years.
who marked 50 years in the insurance industry yesterday, was the
second boy in a family of three boys and one sister. His father
was a well-known eye surgeon, O.L.F. Senaratne and his mother, Loranee
Senaratne, the country's high commissioner in Italy and then in
Ghana. He is also the great grandson of C.H. de Soysa, the wealthy
businessman and philanthropist.
educated at Royal College, Colombo, where he took part in many sports,
winning colours in rugby and boxing, and from which he passed his
Senior School Certificate Examination.
1, 1953, he joined the Insurance Department of Bosanquet and Skrine
Ltd., (which later became a constituent of the Whittals conglomerate)
as assistant manager. The company was the local agent for the Liverpool
and London and Globe Insurance Company Ltd. When asked how he felt
being interviewed by British officers of the firm he said, I
didn't feel nervous, I was calm. As I interviewed him this
was evident to me; he was a calm and collected gentleman.
his studies in the UK, Senaratne became an Associate of the Chartered
Insurance Institute and returned home to join the same firm he had
been employed in. At a time when many young professionals sent for
training abroad by their employers join other firms on their return,
Senaratne is a good example of loyalty.
In the era
following nationalisation of the insurance industry principal agencies
of foreign companies who were once handling everything from issuing
insurance polices to settling claims, became just a post box. This
was not good enough for Senaratne. He wanted to remain active and
involved and got the approval of his superiors to look after the
firm's tea, coconut and rubber plantations.
another chapter in his career in which Senaratne ended up becoming
the chairman of Colombo Tea Traders' Association. He also became
a Member of the Executive Committee of the Colombo Rubber Traders
With the experience
he gained while working for a principal agency of a foreign insurance
company for many years he started Senaratne Associates Ltd. in 1979
with just six employees. Today it has 35 employees, including experts
in the insurance field.
he values most as a professional who advises the public, he said:
I believe that working professionally, upholding ethics and
standards of the industry should be the core responsibility of an
his gurus in the profession, he said: An insurer's duty is
to pay claims and not to look at the small print to avoid claims.
Today more than 90 percent of the revenue of Senaratne Associates
comes from corporate clients. As Richard Reddaway, the current vice
president of Corporate Insurance & Risk Management of GlaxoSmithKline,
UK in a message prepared for a felicitation ceremony for Senaratne
held yesterday, has said, Nihal's professional dedicated service
is often better than that provided by the world's leading brokering
houses. His commitment to insurance and education is one that has
been of benefit to the insurance industry and its clients, both
inside and outside Sri Lanka. Senaratne is one of most experienced
men in the insurance industry and has held many distinguished positions
such as the president of the Sri Lanka Insurance Brokers Association,
president, Sri Lanka Insurance Institute, the local affiliate of
the Chartered Insurance Institute, chairman of the Insurance Sub
Committee of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the
Insurance Committee of the Planters Association of Ceylon.
the insurance industry as it was when he started, Senaratne said,
was to look back at the pre-nationalisation era, it will be recalled
that, there were over 50 insurers operating in a small fraction
of what the market is today. Thus, from the point of view of the
insuring public, the regulator should not impose restrictions on
the number of insurance companies operating in this country provided
they fulfil the necessary statutory requirements.
In other words,
an oligopoly situation should be avoided as collective agreements
may not only give rise to undue restrictive practices prejudicial
to consumer interests but also maintain prices at a high level particularly,
if there are barriers to the entry of new companies. Asked
for his views on the future of the insurance industry, he said,
We need young professionals who are well trained in the industry.
the importance of obtaining a well-recognised professional qualification,
as it sets the foundation for a successful career.
far reaching changes to be introduced so as to encourage the two
way cross-border insurance business which should in the long term
be beneficial to Sri Lanka as a whole in terms of foreign exchange
earnings, and to the consumer in particularly who would enjoy cheaper
if not better products. Today, as the chairman of Senaratne
Associates, Senaratne, amidst his busy schedule and responsibilities,
spends much of his time with his grand children, which he enjoys
thoroughly. He also finds time to read and play bridge. His advice
to young professionals is to strive for excellence in what ever
they do. Aim at the stars and at least you'll hit the tree
Lankan SMILE a winner to market
A natural and,
genuine smile which reflects the entire culture, is the easiest
and simplest thing for people to understand which is difficult to
replicate whereas competitors could replicate product, price, place
and promotion, according to a top marketing guru.
your people who differentiate your organization from the rest. Delivering
the brand promise and reputation starts with your employees and
cultivating an organizational culture, that reinforces that brand
on a daily basis, Kevin Thomson, President Enterprise IG Business
and Brand Engagement, London told The Sunday Times FT last week
after conducting a seminar in Sri Lanka on Emotional Capital
and Internal Branding."
was organized by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants,
Sri Lanka Division (CIMA) .
production have been defined as land, labour, capital, organization,
but later human resources or manpower have been brought in. Likewise
in marketing there are the four Ps - Product, Price, Place and Promotion,
he said .
if a product is considered unique, nobody would want to put it forward.
Manufacture a product like Ford - cheaper than anybody else's, distribute
to a new market - nobody else has reached, a new distribution channel,
or an advertising concept and then see customers rushing to buy
He said that
today the global market place was quite different.
The world has
got too many competitors just as good as you are.
The only unique
development is the personality which could not be replicated.
between the Mercedes, Jaguar, Roles Royce and Mini is that each
has a different personality created by the organization.
That is why your internal branding has much to do about developing
your overall brand internally, he said.
the Smile that is unique and synonymous with Sri Lanka,
Thomson said Sri Lanka cou ld be sold in the tourist world with
the smile which is wrapped around its culture. He said
that not all cultures have this smile.
He said that
to market with the Smile, several other things in the country have
to be rectified otherwise, this unique feature could be misunderstood.
He said that
he visited the Kandy Dalada Maligawa and though the people had always
greeted him with a smile, the policemen guarding it had stubborn
faces, repelling the pleasantness.
practices such as policemen and other officials requesting and accepting
bribes also ruined the pleasant atmosphere for the foreign traveler.