Having a surname that brings with it an entire legacy in the world of insurance coverage holds a great deal of responsibility. Though in no way were they pressured to join the family business, power siblings Mark Jr and Keith Laferla nurtured a keen interest in the field from a young age to the point of pursuing their studies in the area.
Today they occupy the role of Managing Directors jointly, each focusing on their own areas of responsibility. Mark and Keith also enjoy the support of their younger brother, Kevin, who is today part of the senior management team at Laferla.
However, their journey in the company started quite some time ago, and they certainly had to earn their position at the top of the structure over the years. “There was always going to be an element of people seeing us as the sons of the boss,” Mark Jr says as he recalls his trajectory within Laferla Insurance. “Our father, founder of the organisation back in 1984, never exerted any pressure on any of the three siblings to follow in his footsteps, but we all evidently felt a natural pull towards it, as the three of us are today involved.”
“What’s for certain, is that he was adamant that we’d be qualified and gained the necessary experience in the field before we could even consider joining ranks, and continue to build ourselves professionally from then on” Keith interjects.
Mark Jr shares how the company has continued to grow over the past years, building on the very solid foundations laid over several decades, drawing advantage from the iconic status of the brand. “At Laferla we always tried to do things differently, focusing a great deal on the brand name, investing handsomely in brand recognition. This is in turn supported by excellent customer service being a core value at the heart of the brand. This is what sets us apart from our competition,” Mark Jr reveals.
“Both at underwriting and more importantly at claim stage, we make sure that customers are met with professionalism and dedication. After all, we know that the relationships our teams build with our customers rest on a very simple promise that they will find us ready to support them when the time of need comes. We are adamant to uphold this promise to the minutest detail,” Keith continues.
And in order to guarantee this level of service, Laferla is constantly investing in its people, digital tools, and operational processes, to make sure the company is game-ready at all times. Laferla’s team consists of around 55 individuals, coming from all over the world, creating a highly multinational and multilingual offering.
“The competition for good staff members is quite stark in Malta, yet thankfully we enjoy an extremely low rate of staff turnover, with some of our colleagues having been with us for over 30 years,” Mark Jr remarks. “In fact, when excluding the younger team members who would have joined us recently right out of their academic studies, most of our staff has been with us for more than 10 years. The secret is to identify a can-do attitude early on, and a pleasant character that can understand what the clients’ needs are. The rest are processes and professional knowledge that can be taught.”
“Due to consistent growth and an ever-evolving regulatory framework, the company’s structure has become more corporate over the years. However, we make it a point to maintain a family feeling at the workplace,” Keith continues. “This goes both ways, leading us to expect an excellent work ethic and professional attitude from all members of the team, in the interest of customer service – and we make sure to lead by example.”
Asked about what’s in store for the future of Laferla Insurance, Keith shares how their vision for further digitalisation and automation is very much on the cards. “We want to explore more ways to streamline our operations for a more efficient service for our clients. We want to continue offering a superior service, that ultimately benefits the organisation as well. With modern-day tools we can reduce a great deal of effort to carry out mundane tasks that can easily be done by AI, for our talented team members to focus on more creative and challenging endeavours, while keeping a human contact with our clients” he explains. “Naturally we will remain vigilant for our company to never lose out on the irreplaceable value of authenticity.”
Moreover, Laferla have just signed an agency agreement with local partner Mapfre MSV Life, which elevates a long-standing relationship between these two firms that dates back to Mapfre MSV Life’s inception. “This was an important milestone that now positions Laferla to be able to service clients on life and non-life insurance products under one umbrella. Consequently, this investment will allow us to collaborate closely in offering our individual and corporate clients a more complete set of services especially when it comes to life insurance policies, savings, and pension plans,” Keith explains.
At a more corporate level, the insurance provider has just onboarded two new additions to its Board of Directors. In fact, Stephen Thake has joined the big table from the role he previously held as Company Secretary, while David Bonett has also recently joined the Board, following regulatory approval. They both bring with them years of experience in various fields, which will help the company achieve its goals as it continues to look enthusiastically towards growth in the future.
An exciting project Laferla is currently involved in outside of the insurance sector is related to the growing world of telemedicine and how modern-day tools can assist both medical professionals and patients in this field. “This is a natural progression from the established experience and expertise in the Health Insurance sector, coupled with our tech-driven approach to business. The platform, which is being developed together with other major partners and stakeholders, will launch to the Maltese market in the coming months and shall surely be a catalyst in changing the way that patients experience healthcare” Keith explains.
At a wider scope, Mark Jr adds that Laferla is looking at strategic growth beyond the island shores, setting its eyes on more European countries and the MENA region to do business in.
This interview forms part of the 50 Business Leaders project. The new online serialisation on MaltaCEOs.mt will feature 50 distinguished business leaders, CEOs, and emerging business minds to create debate and encourage business leaders to share their journey with our readers.
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