7 Lessons I’ve Learnt as an Insurance Agent in Kenya – AKPIA CEO

April 19, 2021

Clifford Ochieng is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Association of Kenya Professional Insurance Agents (AKPIA), a lobby and a professional insurance agents’ association that works to safeguard the interest of Insurance Agents in Kenya.

He shares some of the lessons he has picked up along the way.

Insurance agents have been left in the back burner of industry negotiations. Together with like-minded agents, we came up with a professional association to represent our unique interests at the policy level. And that’s how AKPIA was born. Notable gains include our role on the VAT Act 2020 (the 14 percent VAT on Commissions), the Insurance Professionals Bill, holding of the first ever successful Insurance Agents conference in December 2020, and providing all insurance agents who are members of AKPIA with Group Life Cover.

Ideas become successful based on their implementation. It will dictate whether you’ll cross the valley to wealth or not. Looking at my journey in the world of insurance, I have come to learn that providing solutions is the key to success. Look at the issues affecting your customers and address them. Look for avenues to better their lives. Create value. Build trust and understand your customers well. Once you get started, the 4 Ps (People, Product, Patience and Persistence) will determine how far you will go.

Personal success to me is all about balancing all spheres of life. Spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, family, and work. It is also about being content and striving to be better than you were.  Success is about inspiring others to become better versions of themselves.

I once trusted too much and gave business and advance payments to people I thought were friends. This trust soon proved too costly. My reputation was called into question as the friends failed to honour the business agreement and terms of delivery. Although I eventually got the delivery, I learned bitterly that business and friendship never mix. I have also learned the essence of having separate income and expenses accounts. The business money is not your money.

There are times I suffer from burnouts. More so, when I have to sacrifice a lot and the efforts don’t seem to bear fruit. But I always believe that every step in the journey is worth the sweat. I am a go getter. In leadership, I have learned that your decisions will not always please everybody. Always be open to new ideas but don’t be a pit where everyone can throw in their trash. Follow your instincts and only choose what works for the good of your organisation.

Having a long-term insurance policy is one of the best and proven ways to save.  I have also learned that belonging to one or two different Saccos works well. Personally I have not used an ATM card since 2013.  I have never had or used a credit card. These might look cool and fancy, but they are similar to walking with temptation right in your pocket.

It’s always good to grow in steps. Avoid shortcuts, be willing to learn from the experienced and still be bold enough to make your own decisions. When starting out, always have clear goals with deadlines and have an execution strategy. Know and understand the difference between being frugal, mean and stingy. Don’t deny yourself what you can afford and don’t spend what you don’t have.

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