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Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance

Global Banking & Finance Review interview Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance to discuss the insurance sector in Cambodia and Forte Insurances award winning success. 

Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance

Charles Cheo, CEO of Forte Insurance

How does Forte Insurance (Cambodia) Plc. keep up with the growing needs of consumers?

As one of Cambodia’s leading, and oldest insurers, we have the experience and expertise in adapting to ever-changing, and more discerning, consumer needs. As the market leader for the past 15 consecutive years (Forte currently holds a 46% share), we also have a bigger consumer database, which gives us an advantage and allows us to better analyze these needs.

We also believe in continuously innovating in whatever we do and offer, whether it’s making use of new technology, enhancing the customer experience or launching a product. As you would know, our efforts here have not gone unnoticed, as GBAF has awarded us Best Innovative Insurance Product for four consecutive years. (Forte has also been awarded Best General Insurer in Cambodia for four consecutive years.)

Can you tell our readers about CancKoampea?

CancKoampea, or cancer support, is Cambodia’s first cancer policy with a 100% lump sum payout. We believe this is a timely and apt product, as Cambodia has the highest prevalence of cervical and liver cancer than any other ASEAN country. The Kingdom also records an estimated 14,000 to 15,000 new cancer cases annually.

CancKoampea aims to reduce the financial and emotional burden for both the insurer and his or her family upon a diagnosis of cancer. The insured receives 100% of the sum insured and has complete flexibility on how he/she would like to spend the money.

The policy offers three affordable, flexible plans – Classic, Executive and Premier, which are all automatically renewed annually without the need for underwriting.

What drives product innovation at Forte Insurance (Cambodia) Plc.?  

The desire to meet, and exceed, customer demands and expectations. We believe in intensive market research coupled with in-depth local knowledge and expertise. Based on these, Forte transforms and adapts existing products from more developed markets to fit the needs of the Cambodian market.

How has technology impacted the way you do business?

We believe technology and innovation are integral to both Cambodia and Forte’s current and next phase of development. These areas will drive the future, and impact both country and industry. At Forte, for example, we make use of technology to constantly upgrade and enhance our online services to make it easier and more conducive for customers to connect with us.

We also encourage other companies to do the same. Forte is a partner in SADIF (Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund), a venture capital fund that invests in Cambodian-based, digital service companies and start-ups. Via ventures as these, we hope to help young entrepreneurs and financial-technology startups grow and transform into IT leaders and ultimately, spur the country’s digital ecosystem.

CSR has always been important at Forte Insurance (Cambodia) Plc. Can you tell us some of the ways you support the social economic development in Cambodia?

We believe contributing to the development and growth of the communities around us is a fundamental part of our success. Forte continuously initiates CSR programs to give back and contribute to the improvement of our surrounding communities.

For example, we raise awareness on road safety by annually donating helmets to motorcyclists and students. This year, we partnered the Department Of Public Works and Transportation to donate helmets to a newly-formed province called Tbong Khmom Province.

We are also deeply involved with Japanese NGO OISCA International. Our collaboration has seen us organizing a Children’s Forest Program to encourage students to realize the importance of a sustainable environment via tree-planting campaigns. Forte also sends two Cambodians to Japan on an annual basis for a two-year agriculture program.

Why is customer service a priority for Forte Insurance?

We would not be here without our customers, which is why Forte places customer service above everything else. By understanding our clients’ requirements, we gain an edge in everything we offer, from delivering precise insurance needs to offering bespoke products and adapting to evolving environments.

We build trust by providing international-class services that, in turn, provide our customers the attention and service they deserve.By doing so, we simultaneously look to raise local industry standards.

What is your strategic vision for Forte Insurance?

Forte primarily looks to increase both personal insurance awareness and penetration in the Kingdom and subsequently, the region. We do so not only by launching innovative products and services, but via other initiatives.

For example, we recently welcomed a new investor from DEG, a subsidiary of German-owned development bank KfW. The entry of new shareholders as these, alongside our existing shareholders, gives Forte a stronger financial platform and injects a combination of knowledge and experience that will allow us to transform the company into a regional player.

We are also expanding our regional footprint. We recently acquired Toko Assurance, one of Lao PDR’s top insurance companies as our first regional venture and are looking at neighboring countries in the future. These expansion plans are in line with Forte retaining our A+ Global Credit Rating Co ranking in terms of financial ratings.

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