Jittiwut Sasibutra is what a good majority of the female population would refer to as a "hottie". After all, the 39-year-old executive won Cleo magazine's Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelors competition title back in 2001, landing him a string of TV commercials and modelling stints. Cleo magazine is a popular fashion and lifestyle magazine under the Post Publishing Plc umbrella.
Jittiwut Sasibutra, managing director of Maxi Insurance Broker.
But talk about the insurance industry and Jittiwut, managing director of Maxi Insurance Broker, displays a fiery passion that speaks volumes about one of the region's fastest-growing industries which has recorded growth when the whole economy was facing a crisis. Simply put, this growth can be attributed to increased awareness about insurance products and tax incentives, thanks to people such as Jittiwut.
"Implementing an accurate business direction and road map before the AEC [Asean Economic Community] will determine the success of Maxi Insurance Broker and the insurance industry. The flood disaster woke up many Thais, which is why we have developed new products and services to strengthen our portfolio and the industry as a whole," said Jittiwut.
And before you flip over to the cartoon and horoscope pages due to the number-crunching details of the insurance industry, there is an interesting side of Jittiwut, apart from the fact that he is a stakeholder in Maxi Insurance Broker, which is expected to achieve 800 million baht in insurance premiums by the year's end.
After Jittiwut completed his high school education from Bangkok Christian College, he matriculated at Assumption University's Property and Casualty Insurance programme with a minor in marketing.
No, that wasn't a typo _ the man majored in insurance. (Do you know anyone who majored in insurance?)
"Back then  it was called a Bachelor of Insurance. I think it has been incorporated into the Bachelor of Business Administration programme now. It was a no-brainer for me because my maternal grandfather [Vai Vathanakul] co-founded Hua Siang insurance company with the late Dr Utain Techapaiboon. My grandfather, who also founded Southeast Asia Insurance company, later oversaw the joint venture of Tokio Marine Insurance with Hua-Siang," recalled Jittiwut, who honed his skills at Tokio Marine till 2001 after graduating from college.
He commented on why he chose to study insurance: "The perception of the insurance industry was rather negative in those days, but I always knew that the industry had great potential and a good future in Thailand. As the national economy develops, so do risk and safety needs which is why people will ask for insurance for their basic business needs.
"I am guessing only a 100 students chose to major in insurance in my time and about 10% graduated. I remember my graduating class had about 15," laughed Jittiwut, who was a popular college duen during his freshman year.
"Popular freshmen, one male and female each from varying faculties are chosen during the first year to serve as representatives of the university for Christmas parties, school plays, sports day cheerleading and other official functions. Men are called duen (month) and women are called dao (star)," he added.
It was only after graduation that Jittiwut caught the eye of a modelling scout after a few TV commercials and a lifestyle interview in Esquire magazine.
"Cleo magazine asked me to join its Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelor competition. To make a long story short, I won the competition along with a Honda Phantom motorcycle, gift vouchers and a lot of TV commercial gigs [Breeze, Maggi sauce, Salz and TOA paint]."
He laughed when asked whether he had any problems dating women. "Modelling was a hobby, not my aim. I always wanted to become a successful businessman," stressed Jittiwut, who earned his MBA degree from Assumption University in 2004.
Jittiwut then moved over to AON Risk Services (Thailand) in 2001 and gradually climbed the corporate ladder until he was appointed as director in 2006. It was around mid-2009 that the determined Jittiwut decided it was time to make his mark when he left AON to build Maxi Insurance Broker from the ground up.
After he received the all-important insurance broker's licence in Sept 2009, there was no looking back. He set up Maxi Insurance Broker with Dr Sunhavut Thamchuanviriya.
Today Jittiwut is aiming to grow his insurance premiums to 1 billion baht before AEC arrives. Not bad for a hottie, so to speak. "Maxi Insurance Broker is strategically divided into three sales teams. The first covers motor insurance, personal and affinity partners such as BMW Leasing Thailand. The second team oversees corporate business such as factories, hotels, office and commercial buildings, department stores and telecommunications, while the third team is responsible for employee benefits."
Jittiwut explained that insurance companies insure risk but an insurance broker serves as a middleman that "offers professional advice about claims, services, premium prices and the best solutions for the customer".
"Since 2009 I have watched Maxi Broker Insurance grow into a leading player among insurance brokers. Plans are in the pipelines for Asean expansion. The AEC is a window of foreign investment which means expats [foreign stakeholders can hold no more than 49% in local insurance companies, up from 25% earlier] can take our business, but we can also take their business as well."
In a nutshell, tax relief for policyholders was the advantage enjoyed by Thai firms, and the government will be cautious in extending this privilege to foreign companies; and the state won't easily allow 100% stakes in new firms.
Jittiwut is spearheading Maxi Broker Insurance on the right path to both national and regional success.
And for all current and potential policyholders in the female population to note, Jittiwut is happily married with a lovely daughter to melt his heart.
1. Favourite car?
2. Favourite restaurant?
Fuzio restaurant at Ekamai soi 7
3. Favourite human being?
4. Favourite destination?
5. Favourite hobby?
6. Favourite sportsman?
7. Favourite movie?
8. Favourite watch?
9. Greatest achievement?
Setting up Maxi Insurance Broker Co
10. What are you reading now?
About the author
- Writer: Alfred Tha Hla
Position: Motoring Reporter