Interview: Meshal Alothman
What role has technology played in improving the social security system, increasing penetration and enhancing the delivery of services?
MESHAL ALOTHMAN: PIFSS was a pioneer in the Arab world in computerising its systems and processes. We started by working on a system that archived all documents, which could then be easily retrieved from any PC, ensuring seamless transactions for our customers across all branches. Internally, PIFSS began improving processes by using business process management tools, a type of software that offers paperless workflow-enhancing solutions and features intelligent tools that enable greater efficiency in the workplace. We also started a business intelligence initiative in response to high demand for corporate performance management and actionable analytics for financial and actuarial needs. At the same time, we created a system for GCC employees working in Kuwait that facilitates communication with other GCC insurance institutions.
In order to help reduce clients’ and employers’ visits to PIFSS branches, we implemented a number of online services, including client e-services, which allow people to check their personal information and apply for documents; employer e-services; KNET online payments; finance, transfers and legal case management; and government-to-government services. PIFSS aims to roll out more services during the coming phases, including the newly developed and released mobile app for iOS and Android.
In what ways is the country’s broadening its product portfolio to Kuwaitis, and how is PIFSS enabling this expansion?
ALOTHMAN: The safety net is the responsibility of the state. It is not limited to the social security system, but extends to health insurance and primary care, social welfare, social security, and social insurance. Part of PIFSS’ strategy is to expand its services to all citizens subject to the security system, whether inside or outside Kuwait. The comprehensive implementation and expansion of the pension system, as reflected in the Extension of Insurance Protection Law for Kuwaitis working in the GCC and abroad, is one of our main objectives.
How has PIFSS been able to maintain a balance between its local investments and its participation in investment schemes?
ALOTHMAN: PIFSS is an institutional investor with a large exposure to global markets, as well as a significant exposure in Kuwait. The institution is the only pension scheme in the country and one of the key contributors to the development of the local economy. As the second-largest shareholder in the local equity market, PIFSS has a social responsibility towards its community and country. We follow a detailed asset allocation strategy, and approach markets based on size and breadth, focusing on the best investment managers globally and across all asset classes. According to the strategy, seeking country-specific investment restricts the scope of finding the best investment opportunities and may affect returns. Therefore, PIFSS follows a regional approach that allows more flexibility for global asset managers to seek value and opportunities on both the macro and micro level.
To what extent is competitiveness key to the Kuwaiti social security system?
ALOTHMAN: Paying into the social security system offered by PIFSS is mandatory for every Kuwaiti citizen in the labour force, and the laws that govern the system set the amount. While competitiveness is not a key commercial factor to the social security system, service quality is. We currently serve over 500,000 individuals, which makes us one of the biggest service providers of any sector in Kuwait.
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