Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2015 Contents BG12 VERBATIM
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 9 • 2015
Last week Thursday, former
ANSA McAL executive director,
GERRY BROOKS, delivered the fea-
ture address at the awards cere-
mony of the T&T Association of
Insurance and Financial Advisers
(TTAIFA), held at the Radisson
Hotel in Port-of-Spain.
In the speech, Brooks paid tribute
to industry stalwarts like Hugh
Eastman, Hugo McFarlane, Telly
Paul, Tom Bishop and called on
the body to commission a book that
would document the contribution
made by insurance and financial
advisers to T&T.
Following is an excerpt:
This morning s conversation is
opportune given the well-pub-
licised issues faced by our
insurance and financial serv-
• the public squabble between Clico s former
chairman, Gerald Yetming, and the Central
• Clico s former chairman, Duprey: "I want
the company back!"
• the advent of new legislation;
• the possibility of an International Financial
Centre and the enormous potential for trans-
These represent historic opportunities and
a crossroad for our industry. Recognising this
and TTAIFA s theme, "Fame---Building a Legacy
of Greatness", was selected as an appropriate
title for this morning s remarks.
My presentation is disaggregated into three
1. Macroeconomic and industry insights
2. Imperatives for executive success: three
3. Concluding remarks
Sustained industry success requires a macro-
economic framework in which there is shared
vision and continued growth. Post 2009, our
accumulated budget spend is $269 billion.
Mean GDP growth between 2009 and 2014
is 0.5 per cent. Forecasted growth for 2015 is
likely to be flat. Potential green shoots of eco-
nomic growth are threatened by soft gas and
oil prices. The impact of weakened energy
prices projected for 2015 is $7 billion.
Two differing views have been presented
by the Ministry of Finance and the Central
Bank on 2015 economic performance. These
views have not been properly reconciled to
date. Weakened energy revenues have been
exacerbated by persistent gas curtailment
issues. Local plants routinely run at sub 90
per cent and sometimes 85 per cent efficiency,
generating a further $1 billion shortfall annually.
Truth is, we cannot continue to run a deficit
budget strategy indefinitely and our diversi-
fication strategies have not borne fruit to date.
We are at a crossroads, economically, and we
are having the wrong conversations nationally.
We are garnering international headlines for
the wrong reasons: "not fame but infamy", if
Economically challenged Greece, with its
long lines at ATMs to get a maximum of $66
per person, represents a more extreme example
of this problem, if not unchecked. We must
transform. We must build a legacy of greatness
for future generations.
There are many models: Norway, Colombia,
Columbia has a sustained, healthy annual
compounded growth rate of 5.69 per cent for
the last five years. We must move beyond the
election rhetoric and make hard choices around
public sector reform, number and size of state
enterprise companies, aggressively advancing
the PPP model and legislative reform while
our lag economic indicators are still robust.
How can we accept after 20 years and the
most significant tragedy to befall the industry
regionally, promised legislation has not been
put in place? Every business chamber must
demand this as a priority. It is a catastrophe
which has impaired our reputation and affected
policyholders regionally through British Amer-
ican and Clico.
Let us meet with both political parties and
demand that it be a priority item on the leg-
islative calendar to be laid in the House and
Senate and be ready to be passed into law
within six months of any new government
To build a legacy of greatness for the industry
and to avoid a recurrence of a similar situation,
we must start with the right legislative frame-
work. Equally important, publish a calendar
of proposed legislation by parliamentary term
Let all stakeholders know the indicative
dates eg the IRA, the Employment Benefits
Bill. That way, industry can prepare, comment
and be aligned with the legislature. Legislation
for the people, by the people and with the
people. A new disruptive construct is required.
Critical to growth and investment is con-
fidence. Confidence grows when there is accu-
rate, timely data and when policy actions are
harmonised and consistent with stated public
positions. In this respect, the Central Bank
has been proactively trying to provide and
collate data, but what of the CSO? How can
a sector and country operate without credible,
accurate and timely data for three plus years.
Set a date and KPIs for the CSO and meet it.
If not, outsource or privatise the CSO. Let us
Too many of our insurance clients are serv-
icing sectors in which sector-specific data is
absent or outdated. Is their specific sector
growing? By how much? What segments are
declining? What are the critical trends?
We must be more data driven, more ana-
lytical; providing insights that help our clients
to grow and ultimately our industry to grow.
Therefore we must become as familiar with
our clients business as we are with our own.
But we must also be courageous to call out
fraud and sharp practice when we see it. We
are the eyes and ears of the company. No
award, no commission is worth your integrity
or the company s good name. It is a symbiotic
So let s stop the "kankalang," confusion and
bacchanal. We cannot keep lurching from crisis
to crisis, from corruption scandal to corruption
scandal. As a country, we are tired of it. Let s
deal with the issues!
Clico, Colman Commission---should never
have started. Five years later, there is no con-
cluded Clico report. This report is long overdue
given its importance to the sector, its impli-
cations for criminal action by the DPP in the
face of probable misconduct and the restoration
of public confidence. Set a date for this final
report and close it out.
Additionally, the Minister of Finance must
provide a proper explanation and resolution
to the recent markedly differing statements
of the approval for the $36 million pay-out
by the chairman of Clico and the Central Bank
Governor. The country does not forget these
things. They do not blow away. They eat away
at our moral fibre and destroy integrity and
public confidence. If we are to build a legacy
of greatness, a new public standard of conduct
is required to reinvigorate public confidence.
At industry level, let us also be ready and
positioned to deal with the opportunities and
navigate the uncertainties, guiding our clients
safely through them. Let s position ourselves
to leverage opportunities that will be created
by a potential International Financial Centre.
As we enter a new economic sphere in which
accommodative interest rates and monetary
policy are deliberately replaced by higher repo
and prime rates, this will trigger significant
investment shifts and the need to modify port-
folio and investment recommendations. Ulti-
mately, mortgage and other lending rates will
begin to rise.
Use 2015 and the short term to stay alert
and recalibrate your clients portfolios to take
advantage of opportunities that arise.
May I share with you a couple ideas that
some outstanding international leaders have
utilised to ensure success.
Imperative No 1:
"Vision without action is merely a dream,
action without vision merely passes the time,
vision with action can change the world" Joel
Barker, American businessman.
First timers might be saying privately, "I
ent know if I could repeat this!" Others may
be saying, "2015 looking tough" Look around!
Exhale! Stand up, Stretch! Say to your col-
leagues next to you, "Well done, Congrats!"
Pause. Decide whether you want (no intend)
to be here next year. Make up your mind. Set
your course. If you are really sure, reach out
to the same person and say, "I will be back
next year. I want you to be here also." Email
yourself and your boss today.
"Just letting you know I will be receiving
another TTAIFA award next year, please chal-
lenge me anytime you feel I am slipping."
Give your colleagues a round of applause
for your courage and public commitment.
Now you have to go out and execute.
Mike Tyson said :"There is nothing that
brings you back to reality like a hard cuff to
the face." You are going to get some hard cuffs.
Despite the best plan, it will come down to
will, determination and energy to bend cir-
cumstance to your will to deliver the vision.
It will require courage. Remember your renewed
commitment and have that will.
Imperative No 2:
Engage in disruptive thinking. Current suc-
cess is your greatest enemy, for it breeds com-
placency and encourages a false sense of secu-
Show me by hands all BlackBerry users!
Cast your mind back six years. Show me
former BlackBerry users!
Today, BlackBerry s major value is its patents.
The victim of disruptors: Samsung Galaxy S6
and Apple I-Phone 6 and LG.
A crisis frequently is too good an opportunity
to waste. Crisis creates opportunity for dis-
ruption, innovation and entrepreneurship. Of
the Fortune 500 companies, 35 per cent will
disappear by 2025. Where were Hyundai, Face-
book, Google, and Alibaba?
In our industry, two days ago I was observing
an ADR session and an insurance representative
told me, "He thought he had heard of NEM
Last week local judicial history was created
using a special hearing called, "Goodyear Hear-
ing" in criminal law. It was presided over by
the Chief Justice who normally sits in the
appellate court as president. The Goodyear
Hearing first used in the UK, in 2005, allows
the accused by application to be advised of
the maximum sentence he is likely to receive.
In this case, the accused wished to know the
maximum sentence he could receive if he
pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of
manslaughter instead of murder. The accused
was so advised and accepted it. It is a revo-
lutionary step judicially in our local criminal
courts. It can reduce trial time from two weeks
to three hours and will aid in clearing the
backlog in the criminal justice system. It will
not solve the back log.
More is required: the revamping of the
Forensic Centre, strengthening of DPP s office,
efficient appointment of a police commissioner,
revamping of the criminal procedure rules.
But the point is: it is a disruptive step and
must be commended.
Continued on Page 13
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