Forte Insurance has continued to be Cambodia’s leading insurance firm for the last 12 years, guiding and shaped the industry. Now, after winning the 2014 Global Banking & Financial Review (GBFA) award for “best insurance company in Cambodia,” Forte has cemented their legacy as the industry leader. The Post met up with CEO Mr Charles Cheo to learn why Forte has been so successful.
How has being awarded Cambodia’s best insurance company fulfil and validate the role Forte plays in Cambodia’s growing insurance market?
The GBFA award is a reflection of our faith in Cambodia; when we first arrived in 1999, we believed that there was great potential in building the insurance sector here. At the time we brought with us a clear set of values that was to underpin who we are. First was quality of service and innovation of product. As a General Insurer Forte can provide cover for a multitude of insurance risks. Every year we launch more specialized products.
Secondly, we understood early on how to get the best from our people, through nurture and encouragement and educating them with internationally recognized qualifications. Chances are if you meet a qualified insurance professional today in Cambodia, they were once part of our team.
Finally, create a culture of family, a sense of being part of something special. 16 years later many of our original team are still with us and now we employ an international team of some 120 staff from USA, UK, Singapore, China, Japan and of course Cambodia. We are partners with some of the worlds leading insurers and now we are recognized internationally as Cambodia’s best.
So yes there is a great deal of satisfaction when we look back at all we have achieved.
What aspects of the company led to being given this award?
Like any successful business we must have a clear vision, what we want to achieve and how we get there. Then there is the team, having the right people means you can innovate, develop and grow; this has led to the evolution of everything we do.
Products are important, having a comprehensive range that fits the customer’s needs effectively is essential; also equally important is the service behind that product. Insurance is a promise to protect the things that are dear to us. An example of this is our “RED Team,” which stands for Rapid Emergency Dispatch; if one of our clients is involved in a car accident within major cities, the RED Team’s task is to be on site with the client within 30 minutes. This service is only available through Forte Insurance and has been a massive relief for many clients who have been involved in an accident since its inception in 2013.
How would you describe the international standards Forte brings to Cambodia?
Our goal is to bring international best practice and highest standard of service, equal to any insurance company anywhere in the world. We constantly involve our International Partners in providing training and support to our team. We are the first Cambodia Insurance Company to introduce ACII and AMII accreditations which are recognized worldwide. Our mix of local and international staff brings knowledge, skills and new ideas; this has helped foster an understanding of local and international values, key when you are working with multicultural clients.
What message do you have for those looking for insurance?
Insurance is really about protecting what is important to you; it could be your family, a vehicle, personal property, your staff or your business, whatever you determine to be of value is worth protecting. As we cannot predict the future, having insurance goes a long way in giving you the comfort in knowing what you value is secure and that in time of need there will be someone there to help.
By Forte providing a diverse amount of insurance services, how has this led to your status as number one?
As a general insurer we cover a multitude of risk, our customers range from individual consumers to multinational corporations and our products range from micro insurance to oil and gas. It is because we provide a diverse amount of insurance. We have been the leading light in Cambodia for over 11 years; supported by the right partners and skilled team we are able to meet the demands of the market.
Our status as Cambodia’s largest insurer also means we can create relationships with International Insurance Partners, so you could say “our success has bred success,” all the while this develops the market and is good for the customer.
What is the symbolism of moving into the Vattanac tower?
With the phenomenal growth we have experienced over the last few years, we knew that our existing home would eventually have to be rebuilt, so we looked at the available options open to us. We concluded that Vattanac Capital was the ideal choice given its quality, innovation and design. The venue is impressive and clearly stands out as the biggest and best business venue in Cambodia. So if I consider symbolism, I would say the building reflects our own values and successes.
What is the future for the Insurance Sector in Cambodia?
Penetration in the insurance sector is still relatively low in Cambodia when compared to neighboring countries, so we expect strong continued growth in the market. Corporate businesses makes up a substantial part of the insurance sector, however with changes in law, better public awareness and more disposable income; we expect to see the consumer market becoming a more important factor in the future.
How will the new challenges that are driving the market change the way Forte does business?
Forte is never standing still, we have been the number one insurer in Cambodia for 12 years and we want to stay there. One challenge we face is: how to maintain the remarkable growth we have experienced while still maintaining the high level of service our customers have come to expect. So we are looking at technology to help deliver a better customer experience; this technology is already being used to offer Forte travel products online. E-commerce is also something that will feature in the future. My vision for the future is for any customer to be able to conduct business with Forte any way they choose, be it phone, face to face or online, at a time that suits them.