CFO Alfred Mtaki speaks of growth through collaboration and flexibility

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ICEA LION General Insurance Tanzania CFO Alfred Mtaki is relishing the steep learning curve in a fast-growing company.

ICEA LION General Insurance Tanzania CFO Alfred Mtaki is relishing the steep learning curve in a fast-growing company.

Growing up in Tabora, Alfred wanted to become a medical doctor but unfortunately he did not do well enough in secondary school to be admitted for medical studies. He was instead admitted for laboratory sciences.

“I decided that if I was not going to become a doctor, I would rather do something totally different. I had an interest in business and therefore I was pleased to be admitted at St Augustine University in Mwanza for a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in accounting and finance graduating in 2011,” he said.

“I combined this with studies towards qualifying as a certified public accountant. After graduation, I was retained as a tutorial assistant at the university for two years. After a brief stint at Tanzania Breweries Limited, I joined ICEA Lion in December 2016,” he added.

ICEA LION General Insurance Company (Tanzania) Limited is part of ICEA LION Insurance Group, which encompasses life assurance, general insurance, asset management, and the trust business.

Appointment to CFO
Alfred rose through the ranks from a financial accountant to chief accountant and acting chief financial officer in 2022. He was confirmed as the chief financial officer in May 2023.

“I am fairly new to the role and it is a new experience for me to be making final decisions on what cause of action the business shall take. It is inevitable to have a fear of getting things wrong and there is a lot of pressure. I handle this by consulting widely,” he explained.

One of the pressing issues on Alfred’s plate is dealing with the tax authorities.
"We are under constant pressure with the taxman. They have stringent targets to meet and therefore you receive regular assessments and audits. The tax law is skewed in their favour and therefore you at times have sleepless nights because of compliance," Alfred explained.

“We engage with tax consultants to assist us to ensure that we meet the highest level of compliance. We go through very painful processes of providing reconciliations and objections to assessments which take up a lot of time that could be better spent pursuing other business objectives,” he added.

Another priority area for Alfred is credit control which requires the finance team to constantly monitor their receivables. The company is also implementing a new accounting standard IFRS 17 which requires changes in reporting systems.

Growth through flexibility

Despite the challenges, the company has been growing at a fast rate in the past few years.

“We have almost doubled the business in just four years following a change in top management and adjustments to our strategy. We were previously very rigid in terms of the type of business we would undertake. We have become a lot more flexible and increased our interaction with intermediaries which involves give and take, negotiating to ensure that at the end of the day our insurance contracts reflect the ICEA Lion way,” Alfred said.

In managing his team, Alfred has a collaborative approach although there are times when he has to resort to ‘nagging’ to ensure things get done. He finds it inevitable to micro-manage in instances where staff fail to meet targets.

Alfred’s journey to the CFO role was accelerated by hard work and taking one step at a time.

“I am keen to learn and I have always had my feet on the ground. I wouldn’t call myself successful yet but I am where I am today because of the support of people around me including seniors, colleagues and those under my supervision,” he said.

Outside of the office, Alfred is an ardent fan of Young Africans Sports Club, commonly referred to as Yanga. “I am a proud mwananchi!” he declared, calling himself a citizen, which is the term used to refer to Yanga followers.

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