Ian Chinapoo crosses 6-month milestone: Guardian Group grows under new CEO

Guardian Group CEO Ian Chinapoo reflects on his six-month stewardship in an interview at the Westmoorings head office on May 12. - Jeff Mayers
Guardian Group CEO Ian Chinapoo reflects on his six-month stewardship in an interview at the Westmoorings head office on May 12. - Jeff Mayers

The Guardian Group, which has been in existence for 176 years, welcomed Ian Chinapoo as its CEO in October 2022.

Chinapoo’s career spans over 27 years in banking and finance in the Caribbean and Central American region. He previously held key positions of executive director and group chief financial officer of Massy Holdings Ltd.

He also served as executive director of the TT Unit Trust Corporation as well as leading regional businesses at CIBC First Caribbean International Bank and Citigroup.

Transitioning into his new role, Chinapoo described his time in office as exciting.

Speaking with Business Day in an interview on May 12, Chinapoo said, “I have always had a strong connection with the group, whether it was arranging bonds for them when I was a banker, or investing in Guardian bonds when I was an investor in Unit Trust or Massy and managing pension plans.”

He added that it is a privilege to be part of a company that is in the business of protecting and preserving life and taking care of people’s families long after they are gone.

Guardian Group's vision

As Chinapoo successfully crossed his six-month milestone in office, he articulated his vision for the Guardian Group – which in 2019 became part of Jamaica's NCB Global Holdings which has a controlling stake of 61.7 per cent in the TT group – and shared some insights into its growth strategies.

The vision has three "horizons."

The first has the tag line: “The things you do now, do well.”

It focuses on protecting and perfecting the core business. This includes everything from the group’s core markets, customers and processes. The aim is to be a good corporate citizen, as an insurer, as an asset manager and as a merchant bank.

The second "horizon" speaks of the group’s existing markets. The aim is to deepen, educate, and expand the group’s presence in those existing markets. This also includes the introduction of new products.

At present the group operates in 22 countries, which include the English-speaking Caribbean and the Dutch Caribbean. At the beginning of this year, it also opened a company in Europe.

The third "horizon" goes further, aiming to expand into adjacent spaces and broaden the mandate by examining the ecosystems the group touches. An example would be the recent establishment of an e-pharmacy which is linked to its health ecosystem. This helps in vertical and horizontal integration.

Chinapoo has taken the helm in the group’s ongoing transformation process. This includes a long-awaited standard for financial disclosure – the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17 which came into effect this January.

The Guardian Holdings Ltd consolidated financial statements for the first quarter of 2023 show the implementation of the IFRS 17 materially changes the financial statements in terms of presentation, recognition and measurement of insurance contracts, mainly in the life, health and pension (LHP) segment.

Chinapoo added, “The adoption of the IFRS 17 has been a significant undertaking not only for the group, but also for the insurance industry globally. It is described as the single greatest transformational event to impact the insurance industry in decades.”

In January, the group acquired the licence and established a general insurance company in the

Chinapoo said, “The group is currently focusing their energy in Netherlands. At this time there are over 400,000 policies. It is a market that has significant scaling opportunities.”

Navigating the current landscape

Navigating the current economic landscape, exacerbated by the pandemic, has been challenging for most companies.

But Chinapoo said, “Contrary to that, our business actually did well, not because of the pandemic, but because of the strategies that were employed pre-pandemic. The group undertook serious innovative and creative transformation exercises as well as partnered with international firms. This included digital investments and the my GG online portal which is the group's online insurance and investment platform. These strategies helped mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic and brought awareness about health and how precious life is, which could only augur well for an insurance company such as ours."

On the domestic front, with respect to the recent mid-year budget review, Chinapoo said, “Productivity drives an economy. People should focus on what they can contribute. This includes producing more locally, which will help reduce the dependence on imports and put less pressure on our foreign exchange.”


"Ian Chinapoo crosses 6-month milestone: Guardian Group grows under new CEO"

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