On 28 November the IIG held an open-air concert, at the Johanesburg Zoo, where the Parlotones entertained the crowd to end the calendar year. It was fitting to host an event which offered the attendees safety and the space to socially-distance themselves whilst still being able to greet industry colleagues and celebrate the achievements of the IIG over 2020. Below was the presidential update which was provided mid concert – the detail of the year will be published in the AGM report early next year.
“Good afternoon ladies and gents, boys and girls, friends of the IIG
It’s an honour and a privilege to be here today, celebrating the achievements of the 109th year of the IIG, which was founded in 1911. This year had Covid-19 not reared its ugly head, we would have celebrated our 79th annual dinner, the biggest insurance event in Africa where up to 1,800 insurance professionals gather to dine and celebrate colleagues in the industry. As you know, indoor events have capacity constraints with regulations and therefore today’s Picnic with the Parlotones was designed to give you and those you brought with you, the ability to spatially distance yourself on the grass while enjoying the very finest in SA Music. I think this is a good time to give the Parlotones here today an extra shout-out of appreciation.
At this point I’d like to thank our sponsors that made today possible – to Discovery, Santam, Contantia and Old Mutual Insure – a big thank you for making this happen and ensuring that in spite of the extraordinary year we have had, we could still gather responsibly and safely, adhering to all protocols, and still have a celebration of 2020’s success.
I won’t speak for long, but would like to give a crisp update on the IIG and what we have been busy with this year. If ever you thought 2020 was the year we could take a step back and relax while we waited for the pandemic to disappear – you’d be very wrong! As you know, the IIG is a long-standing institution that turned 109 years old earlier in August and aims to engage and connect the short-term insurance industry through professional networking, education, inclusive transformation and proud affiliation for the industry. The IIG is about collaboration and innovation, remaining refreshed, relevant and sustainable, and working towards growth and progress. The IIG calendar prior to Covid-19 ran just over 20 events a year which included CPD-accredited Insights sessions, professional networking and sporting events as well as formal academic and mentorship programmes.
We all know 2020 has been quite a remarkable year. I’m not going to echo the sentiment of many who just wish 2021 could start already, as in many ways the curveballs that the pandemic threw at society has unlocked the ability to really laser-beam focus on strategic outcomes. Earlier this year at the inaugural dinner before the news of lockdown, the IIG committed to 3 outcomes:
- Focusing on efficiencies and a scalable foundation within the IIG office
- Digitalising the IIG experience
- Ensuring a continued Transformation focus through our programmes offered and our council representation, including our executive committee.
When lockdown was introduced, we realised the need to very quickly digitalise and I am proud to update you all that this year we held over 22 CPD-accredited Insights sessions showcasing both local and international speakers who have joined us from areas including Kansas, Zurich, London and Munich. We are projecting to end the year on over 35 CPD hours of specialist content with some webinars exceeding 600 delegates. We have also been fortunate enough to have continued our Class of Programme where 32 students completed the programme and graduated on Wednesday, the Roots & Wings mentorship programme saw a record number of 27 mentorship partnerships and the mentees graduated earlier this week on Thursday, and the Insurance Leadership Development Programme powered by GIBS Business School graduated the 25 students who completed the ILDP programme at GIBS 2 weeks ago. Encouraging to me was how so many stakeholders embraced the changes required and simply got on with it, from lecturers, to students, to mentors, to sponsors and 2020 has seen some of the highest marks on the programme to date, in-spite of the transition to digital engagement.
With South African youth unemployment even before lockdown approaching 60%, and the one risk in insurance being the aging workforce and risk of inadequate knowledge transfer downstream, one programme especially close to my heart in that it targets unemployed youth from impoverished backgrounds is the Academic Programme which started last year with 15 students. This year we committed to scale and build this programme with a sustainable, repeatable foundation. For millions of South Africans, opportunities like this will be the only way they are ever to find a permanent job, and this programme powered by the Graduate School of Financial Sciences has scaled in leaps and bounds. After the news of Lockdown, GIFS very quickly designed and developed a digital classroom, and together with MTN we have commenced the 2020 IIG class of 44 learners and 2 weeks ago finalised the IIG top 20 (who also receive mentorship support during this course). These students will secure an insurance qualification and an internship into MTN financial services – even more special is that there will be a further 256 such students going through this programme, taking the total 2020/2021 class to 300 students. We are immensely proud of the insurance industry in unlocking this opportunity and it speaks squarely to the transformation mandate the council is committed to executing against.
In line with that laser-beam focus on digitalising the IIG office, besides our full capability now to offer globally-supported webinars, this month our events ticketing and access-control app went live (some of you would have experienced it having received a QR code for this event), and in a few days we are turning on the switch for our careers portal which plugs into our website – this will provide the stage for IIG member companies looking for talent to meet aspiring individuals within the IIG community, making recruitment that much easier.
Due to the global lockdown we were not able to host the IIG international trip to Moscow, Russia and New Delhi, India. So except for that international networking event, a golf day and a sit down annual dinner, only those events were impacted by the lockdown and so I am proud to announce that the IIG council executed the IIG constitutional mandate fully this year and all items committed to at inaugural dinner were implemented and on track. This is not only an IIG team success, but an insurance industry success that enabled the IIG to deliver.
The last point I’d like to make is that the IIG acted with utmost prudency this year knowing the financial pressure not only as a non-profit public benefit organisation, but also with the pressure in the local South African market and it’s effect on our corporate members. In retrospect we were glad we kept membership fees unaltered for 2020, and we reduced event and activation costs due to the nature of digital delivery, but in spite of that, due to our restructure of events and our income statement discipline, 2020 will report a healthy surplus at the IIG AGM next year, some of which was invested into today in order to celebrate you and our resilient industry. More on the AGM to follow in upcoming communications from the IIG office and for those willing to extend a hand and potentially join the IIG council, look out for our announcement of 2021 council vacancies for which you can raise a hand to be voted on at 2021 AGM.
It would be remiss of me to not also give a special shout out to the IIG team, the councillors, the co-opted members and ambassadors. All of you contributed so much of your time to the IIG and its delivery this year and sincerely thank you. This was a year where our pro-bono contribution was even more valuable considering how the lockdown changed the very nature of work and for many exponentially increased workload and stress levels. You are a world-class team, and I salute you.
Ladies and gents, that’s all from me. I wish you and your loved ones a blessed festive season. Take the time to refresh and reset. 2020 has been an exhausting and emotional year for many. Many of you are close to burn-out. Take the time to rest this December and come back in January stronger and more resilient than you have ever been. I don’t think 2021 will necessarily be an easier year, but a more resilient and empowered you and me will enable us to navigate whatever comes our way.
I’d hate to keep you longer from the Parlotones and our sight-seeing of the zoo with your family afterwards. Kahn, Neil, Glen and Paul, it’s back to you gents and time you “pushed us to floor” – metaphorically.
Goodbye from me!”