FIDES, the Federación Interamericana de Empresas de Seguros (Inter-American Federation of Insurance Companies) has been a member of the MiN since 2014, representing national insurance associations from 18 countries across Latin America and Spain. We sat down to speak with FIDES’ new Secretary-General Francisco Astelarra.
MiN: How does FIDES support and promote inclusive insurance?
Francisco: We collaborate closely with the MiN to promote financial inclusion. For example, earlier this year we hosted an industry seminar with the MiN (and other partners) in Bogota to launch the Landscape Study of Latin America, which we partly sponsored. Being relatively new to the inclusive insurance sector, I was very impressed by the MiN’s work in the region. The seminar and speakers were excellent, and it was great to hear about financial inclusion projects in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Honduras. I was also impressed by the good work happening in agricultural insurance.
We work with the Latin American Association of Supervisors (ASSAL) and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) to promote good regulation of financial inclusion and microinsurance. Supervisors are very focused on financial inclusion - it’s on the agenda of politicians and governments around the world. We are also working to improve transparency and customer relations across the whole insurance sector.
MiN: You took over as FIDES Secretary-General earlier this year - what are your ambitions?
Francisco: My main ambition is to improve the position of the insurance sector in Latin America and to have a good relationship with supervisors. Much of the insurance industry doesn’t know what we do - they’d be surprised! We should invite not only insurance people to our events, but politicians, policymakers and businesses. And we should promote inclusive insurance to a wider audience through the news media and economic publications.
MiN: What excites you about being part of the MiN?
Francisco: The MiN’s mission is very relevant and important. We’re protecting more and more people, families and SMEs through insurance, and that’s very exciting. It’s a big challenge for me, the MiN and its members, but we’re embracing it. I think technology will really help us to promote microinsurance all around the world by developing new products as well as distribution and premium collection methods.
MiN: What have you learned from financial inclusion projects you have been involved in?
Francisco: Awareness of the different regulatory and cultural differences in each country, and how to work with these differences, is really important. It takes time to understand that there are different ways of seeing the same business – cultural, social and economic differences. Dialogue between FIDES members is so important - listening to all members and how they work is key.
MiN: What are the big challenges in your region?
Francisco: There are several. Lack of awareness about the importance of insurance cover, how to sell and distribute products, paying out quickly and appropriately on losses, collecting premiums, and establishing appropriate regulation.
MiN: What would you like to share with your fellow members of the MiN?
Francisco: Firstly, information exchange is key, it makes us more effective in achieving our targets. I’d like members to know more about FIDES, and in turn I want to learn from other members. Secondly, I would like to hear success stories of financial inclusion from Africa and Asia - this will help raise the MiN’s profile with policymakers and businesses in Latin America. Finally, we have to work much more closely with the wider microfinance community. It will be a long process, but you cannot run a 100-metre race without taking the first step!