The Clico story
July 16, 2004
The Clico story


Every institution or commercial venture starts with an idea. In this case the idea is CLICO – an Institution which was destined to crystallize the aspirations of our citizens within the Caribbean region and present them with the opportunity to display their talents in a meaningful way. {{more}}
The man with the vision was Cyril Lucius Duprey, whose entrepreneurship and business acumen ensured the survival, growth and success of the institution that is CLICO.
Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Limited was incorporated on December 15th, 1963 and started operations in July 1937 by its Founder C L Duprey. At that time there was no local insurance industry since all the companies were foreign, operating through local Agents.
The initial response to a local life insurance was mixed. At the professional level, Duprey was discouraged by the Solicitor, selected to prepare the instruments for incorporation who said among other things “Creole people do not support Creole Business” to which Duprey replied: “This may be so but if you give a man value, if you give a man service, he is bound to support you.”
Duprey was right, as in the first year of operations, selling Industrial Health and Accident and Life Insurance products with a unit premium of six cents per week, agents were able to collect $21,472.25 in premium and policy fees. A surplus of $636.18 was realized in that year.
The result of the first year demonstrates the support the venture received from those citizens of Trinidad and Tobago whose only source of protection at that time was Friendly Societies. It is this group which continued to support Clico through its history.
Through astute leadership and conservative financial management, Duprey was able to steer his Company to success after success. The Company started operations in modest rented premises on 75 Queen Street in Port-of-Spain, with a staff of two persons. The furniture was sparse and frugal, and it is reported that one of the employees had to sit on a soapbox for want of a chair. This did not last long, however, as in 1940 the Company moved into its first Head Office building which was acquired without having to borrow – on 32 St Vincent Street, a property purchased for $10,000.

Phase I of Development

For the first forty years of its existence, Colonial Life grew steadily and operated strictly within the confines of a conventional Life Insurance Company committed to regionalism.
Agencies were established from Guyana in the south, to Jamaica in the North, but Trinidad and Tobago remained its base and about 85% of its business was obtained in this country. A subsidiary was also established in the UK. Investments were in Government securities, Company stocks and shares, mortgages and project financing. Very little real estate was acquired except for its own use. Assets stood at the end of forty years at TT$125 million.
During that period, a General Insurance Company, Colonial Fire & General (COLFIRE) was incorporated and a decision was taken in 1977 to acquire the T&T portfolio of Confederation Life Insurance Co. (A Canadian Company).
Management was essentially the same for the first forty years.

Phase II (1978 – 1986)

During the next decade much economic activity was experienced in Trinidad & Tobago as the so-called “oil boom” stimulated construction, increased salaries and employment and an industrialization programme was embarked upon by Government.
Coupled with this, the acquisition of the Confed. Portfolio increased insurance sales to the extent that assets increased to 4815 million at the end of that period.
There was little change in the philosophy which remained life insurance oriented. However, the pressure of finding suitable investments influenced the Company to acquire two Branch Banks operations in Barbados, Citibank and Chase Manhattan.
Two insurance subsidiaries were also incorporated in Barbados.
Our present Chairman, Lawrence Duprey, who was then Regional Manager of Barbados and the EC, became very active during this decade and was instrumental in getting the Confed. Portfolio as well as both Branch banks of CLICO.
The investment strategy changed to one of diversity and entered the primary financial market through direct investments in selected enterprises.

Phase III (1987 to present)

The most significant event which took place during this period was the appointment in 1987 of Mr. Lawrence Duprey as Chief Executive. With his appointment came a new Management Team, a new philosophy and a new investment strategy.
Drawing on his experience in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and using his international connections, the entire character of CLICO was to be transformed.
The original mission of the Company was to provide the highest level of Insurance and Financial Services in the Caribbean giving the best value.
This was expanded to profitably exploit, the natural resources of the Caribbean through export oriented enterprises. This philosophy was growth; experience was phenomenal, direct investments were made in:

1. Property companies – this resulted in the acquisition of Shopping Malls/Supermarkets

2. Energy Companies

3. Forestry/Wood Products Groups

4. Financial Services

There were additional investments added to the traditional insurance operations.

The Clico Conglomerate

The activities also created problems which were related to regulations applicable to the operation of the Life Insurance Companies. This was over come through the incorporation of a Holdings Company – Colonial Life Financial Ltd. – which now holds all assets which are non-admissible under the Insurance Act.
Total assets of the group now stand at US$2.5 billion as compared to $135 million in 1986.