As a senior partner of KPMG Cambodia, Craig McDonald has been working in Cambodia for the last six years and sees the country’s insurance sector as one of growing importance. “Insurance is a growing sector, it’s obviously something we want to be part of and play in.”
KPMG, one of the big four auditors, has been in Cambodia for almost 15 years and works with a number of banks, insurance companies and even micro financial players in the country. As for the insurance business, its main jobs include statutory audits required for insurance companies, providing advice or helping them to make sure they are in compliance with the tax regulations.
According to McDonald, the general market for insurance has been going for at least 10 years. “Historically, it has just been the general insurance companies, general insurers, and there have been five or six for a number of years,” he says. “And what we’ve seen in the last year, there have been one or two life insurance companies coming in, which is an exciting development for Cambodia.”
However, insuring life, health or property remains a luxury for few in Cambodia. According to McDonald, it is not about money, as the rates are fairly cheap. “I guess the challenge is education,” he says.
People might not know about insurance in general and they might feel they are spending money that could be used otherwise, instead of looking at the benefits of protection against possible future risks, McDonald says.
He says Cambodia has an emerging middle class, counting about one to two million people. “That’s the target market for the life companies.” They are mainly located in the major cities like Phnom Penh, while the rural communities remain without insurance. He says to promote insurance, the companies are working with the ministries and the universities.
But according to McDonald, the micro insurance business is starting in Cambodia, a concept that has been quite big and successful in other developing markets such as India and Bangladesh.
For the future, McDonald expects more players among the life insurers coming in. “It’s an exciting time to be in Cambodia for KPMG and for myself,” says the Scottish born, who has most of his career been in frontier markets such South Africa and Vietnam before coming to Cambodia.
“The sector grows, not only insurance, there is tremendous potential for growth, both for KPMG and the profession as a whole.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at [email protected]