Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 13th 2013 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
WASHINGTON---Wo rl d
finance officials are keeping
pressure on the United States
to resolve a troubling budget
The impasse in Washington
is threatening a market-rattling
default on US debt that would
seriously threaten the global
The World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund are
wrapping up three days of talks.
The IMF s policy-setting
committee says the US needs to
take "urgent action" to address
America s borrowing authority
is set to lapse on Thursday.
Financial officials are hopeful
the crisis will settled in time.
Mario Draghi, the head of the
European Central Bank, says he
thinks it s "unthinkable that an
agreement won t be found." (AP)
Just over a year after it acquired Algico s
T&T business in July 2012, the Pan-American
Life Insurance Group (PALIG) reported in
its financials that for the first eight months
of 2013, its T&T operations "continued to
show growth in the market with increased
sales of 38 per cent."
In a telephone interview from his New
Orleans, USA head office, Jose Suquet, chair-
man of the board, president and chief executive
officer of PALIG, credited changes in man-
agement, customer retention and new high-
end customer acquisition for the growth.
He said that although this is PALIG s first
experience in the English-speaking Caribbean,
the company implemented many changes,
invested in key areas and expects even better
results going forward. He said the high-end
"private client" business in T&T has grown
double what PALIG projected and he sees a
market still ripe with opportunity in the wake
of the CL Financial failure.
"Our retention of the business has been
improving since we ve taken over," he said.
"Our agents are very excited. The brokerage
community on the corporate side have been
very receptive. The business community at
all levels has been very receptive. We re very
pleased and have a great working relationship
with Mr Carl Heeralal, and the whole regulatory
authority that exists in Trinidad."
He said the company made "significant
changes in a number of products" and also
"changed the entire management team."
"Our total Caribbean revenue is up 14 per
cent, led by our life business where our first
year premiums are up 30 per cent in the first
six months of 2013."
Suquet said group corporate business went
up nine per cent in that period as well.
"We ve had very significant increase in rev-
enue and I think we re just scratching the sur-
face. I think we see very significant oppor-
tunities for continued growth, throughout the
region, and specifically in Trinidad," he said.
The T&T operation serves Barbados, the
Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles
(Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and St Maarten), St
Lucia and other Eastern Caribbean countries.
Government-appointed chairman of the
Unit Trust Corporation Wendell Mottley also
wears a hat at PALIG. He is on the board of
directors of the holding company.
"We really wanted to add to our holding
company somebody with very extensive ties
in the region, and I had an opportunity to
meet Wendell Mottley during the due diligence
process, and we became well-acquainted and
we invited Wendell to join our board earlier
this year at the holding company level; and
Wendell has been our biggest supporter, not
just in Trinidad but throughout the region.
He s such a widely recognised and respected
individual in the business community," Suquet
Projects further growth
Asked what he was basing growth projec-
tions on at a time when other insurance com-
panies in the region are suffering losses, Suquet
said: "We have done significant re-branding
efforts and we have great financial stability
which is very important. We recognise, as we
were doing our due diligence the entire
Caribbean has gone through financial shock
since the collapse of CL Financial, so there is
really an eroding confidence in this sector.
"We felt it was a good opportunity to posi-
tion Pan American as number 1, a company
with over 100 years experience, very strong
financially---and we communicated our dif-
ferent ratios, our ratings with the credit rating
agencies, the quality of our balance sheet, the
diversity of our balance sheet."
He said PALIG then "made it very clear
that we are very people-oriented. We re a life,
accident and health insurance company, and
we serve both the individual and the corporate
market place, multinationals, but we re not
in the property casualty business.
"We don t have a bank. We don t have an
investment company. We re not a conglomerate
in that sense. We re a holding company that
has assets throughout Latin America and the
English-speaking Caribbean, but it s purely
focused on the life, accident and health arena,
so all of our revenue, all of our earnings, all
of our reserves are all linked to the life and
health area, and that really resonated with
some of our top customers on the corporate
and individual side.
"It totally resonated with the regulators, so
that (with) early acceptance we see opportunity
combined with the overall affluence of many
of the countries in the English-speaking
Caribbean---after all, some of the highest GDP
per capita in the Western Hemisphere are in
the English-speaking Caribbean," he said.
"So with the confluence of those events,
and the corporate side and the high net worth
side, we see an opportunity to introduce some
of our services and products."
Suquet said he expects the company s high-
end products for the high net worth people
of T&T to continue to do well. "Right now
the competition is made up of offshore com-
panies, and we re the only complete, legal
onshore option for residents, and it s worldwide
coverage that we offer," he said, adding that
"our sales have more than doubled our expec-
tations." Suquet said PALIG has received "enor-
mous receptivity in the Trinidad marketplace.
Our private client sales doubled our expec-
PALIG has a major medical business, he
said. Premiums in this line of business grew
by around 65 per cent in T&T. This compares
with 35 per cent growth for the holding com-
pany as a whole in the first six months of
PALIG has "a proprietary provider network
that we re just building," Suquet said. "This
proprietary provider network has high-quality
doctors, hospitals throughout Latin America
as well as in the US."
He said PALIG has a complete network in
Colombia like it has in the US, and by using
the Colombia network, clients are able to have
significant cost reductions versus using the
medical network in the US.
"It s just an example of some of the inno-
vation that we re doing on the product side,"
PALIG has also introduced new products,
he said. This includes the term insurance prod-
uct, as well as critical illness products for the
middle markets, and from the first quarter of
next year, he said PALIG will be introducing
a universal life product called "Life Access"
that "will compete, not necessarily with the
products that currently exist in T&T, but with
the offshore products that are being marketed
illegally by companies that are not admitted,
and that s our target, to register the product
in the country, and provide a very viable, very
competitive product offering to the higher net
worth individuals, which normally would not
have been available other than through the
With any product PALIG offers, Suquet said
naturally clients could see a doctor in T&T
but the company also gives its clients the
option of having access to its provider network
in other Latin American countries like Colom-
bia and the US. He said that a lot of people
look to go international when they have some-
"We have throughout Latin America, some-
thing called PALIG Med which is our own
provider network through which we have con-
tracts and agreements with all the leading
hospitals and doctors and laboratories in all
of these countries. So we give our customers
in Trinidad the option to use the Colombia
network which, although is not as expensive
as the US, boasts of a "quality is emerging to
be very high." Nonetheless, clients who so
choose can still use his company s US net-
"So we have all the leading hospitals and
many of the top doctors and specialists as
part of our network and we ve been doing
business in Colombia since the late 1930s,"
Asked if life, health and accident insurance
is immune to the ups and downs of economies,
Suquet said tough economic times will affect
everything but "I think the bedrock of financial
security is to make sure that some of the basic
insurance needs are met, so there will always
be a market for that. Furthermore, the high
net worth segment that we aspire to, some-
times is a bit more insulated," and they have
Finally, he said, corporations throughout
the region will continue to need to provide
their employees with benefits. "They may dial
down in a tough economic time. They may
perhaps not cover as much in tougher times,
but they will provide certain basics such as
pension, group life and group health benefits
to their employees," he said.
"What we re selling is trust. We re selling
a promise to deliver when the company or
the individual needs us to deliver. The insurance
business is all about trust and confidence."
Pressure on US at global economy meetings
Pan American Life
grows 38 per cent in T&T
Jose S Suquet, chairman of the board,
president and CEO of Pan-American Life
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