Mr President, the IIG Community is excited to welcome you.
We know 2020 is a big year for you, can you please share with us what 2020 has instore?
The interesting thing with such a question is that the answer remains fluid based on each week in 2020! Had you asked me that question in the beginning of January 2020 when the world started to watch the unfortunate Covid-19 outbreak in China from a very comfortable and naïve position, I would have referred you to the 2020 IIG Calendar, with 24 events during the year, proudly including 2 new events being a Warrior Challenge and the nationally-collaborated Pedal Power event, both of which were conceived with the sole purpose of raising a surplus for the Academic Programme’s bursary budget, and galvanising the local short-term insurance industry.
When I consider the current backdrop, both from a health risk perspective, as well as the financial market impact, I believe 2020 is the year where humanity will learn the full impact and potential of synergy. Unless people from all walks of life come together and collectively bring the fight to Covid-19 in the form of responsible trading, responsible employment and responsible social contact, 2020 will be a tragic year for many people, personally due to loss of life (and net asset worth from the financial market performance) and professionally as businesses and opportunities are clearly impacted. This stage is also perfect for humanity to demonstrate deep resolve, a solutions orientated approach, and the importance of being a responsible global citizen in your own back yard. I am encouraged by the stories of pro-bono services to assist the elderly and at-risk individuals, the emergence of the Solidarity Fund, how businesses have incurred costs in the R-millions collectively in contingency planning to safeguard their employees, and how businesses in SA are looking to assist and support SMMEs through this difficult time (one must be reminded that SMMEs contribute 40% to South African GDP and 60% to total employment – it’s imperative they are supported during this cashflow-risk period, for employment, for our economy, and our tax base dependency).
I believe the IIG remains an institution which can continue to add value to the insurance market during these times. Education, and Impact & Transformation programmes (ILDP, Class of, Roots & Wings) remain in place, even though the method of delivery has evolved from face-to-face to a digital stage. With applications like Skype for Business and Zoom, there is still the effective ability for information and knowledge to be transferred to groups of people, and where they collectively can engage on their learning journey. The IIG is also looking into additional online CPD-accredited solutions during this time to assist our stakeholders with securing their CPD requirements without putting their health at risk.
During this period, the IIG has a window of opportunity in fast-tracking some of the initiatives we announced at the 2020 Inaugural Dinner. These include:
- Enhancing the efficiency and scalability of the IIG office: the institute’s outcomes and service to the industry continues to scale year on year. When one considers the events and programmes the IIG facilitates now versus say 10 years ago, there are 3 times more the number of programmes and events in play. This has seen our need for permanent office resources to manage service providers, events coordination, accounting, and portfolio coordination between the official portfolios within the council – being Impact & Transformation, Education, Marketing, Finance, and this year, the re-introduction of Stakeholder Engagement. As the office throughput increases, our search for better efficiencies will enable our scalability and flexibility into the future.
- Digitalising the IIG experience: the institute has been fortunate enough to secure access to Salesforce functionality and we will strive to finalise the development and integration between the CRM, our membership database and our website. The digital enhancement strategy has 2 tangible outcomes:
- an automated more seamless solution for attending events, from registration to the receipt of CPD certificates – without legacy paper-based processes
- a careers portal to be added to the IIG website to assist in matching insurance talent to market opportunities
- Transformation: we would like to thank you, the industry, in voting in a diverse council in 2020, which is representative of our population, and our market. I make this point with the sole intention of drawing attention to the collective onus and responsibility within our industry in enabling representative leadership within our organisations, including the IIG – and from council to the IIG Exco, we too will continue to exercise this constitutional mandate.
Continuing on the theme of transformation and enabling South Africa and our beloved industry, we have seen national unemployment unfortunately rise to 29%, however when you scrutinise youth unemployment specifically, you will be saddened to see this sitting at approximately 58%. When you consider that the average age in the insurance sector is rising and there is the known risk of knowledge transfer, this is where the IIG’s Academic becomes pertinent and a real enabler in the industry. Whilst we will continue to support social distancing and the recently-announced shutdown, we will continue to push ahead with the IIG bursary programme in preparation for their 2020 graduation. We have short-listed 40 profiles from 1,986 applications, and are in the last stages of the final 20 delegate selection. The Graduate Institute of Financial Sciences remains the partner in delivering this programme and plans have been made to streamline the calendar, using more active days per week to bring the course to 4-months. Based on current planning, and taking the shutdown into account, this still allows a 2020 graduation and a resultant interview process for the delegates’ formal employment opportunities to still take place this year. This programme has already raised R600,000 for 2020 and the 20 students require another R520,000 to cover their courses (Personal Mastery Training, Short Term Level 5 Qualification, RE-5, Work Readiness Programme and Interview Skills Training), along with their travel stipend.
We will continue to stay close to the SA-Presidential and insurance sector directives, and will remain responsible and prudent in our delivery of market engagements.
What does sustainability mean to you and how can the insurance industry contribute?
2020 for the IIG is the year we are focusing on sustainability and this direction was sparked by a landscape analysis termed Vision 2020, which was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the IIG.
From an IIG perspective, the 3 focus points listed above spoke to the IIG seeking a more sustainable foundation for IIG operations, and the ease to enjoy IIG events and experience attendee value whilst we in parallel focused on what is important for SA’s sustainability – responsible transformative initiatives. This included where the IIG is not only represented by a diverse council reflective of the population, but also drives investment and development into previously and currently disadvantaged communities, where the outcome is positive in various ways:
- Provides opportunities to youth who statistically would probably never find formal employment in SA
- Creates a solution in proactively injecting talent into the insurance sector; this assists with the insurance industry’s afore-mentioned dual challenge of not proactively attracting new entrants, and secondly the aging workforce.
We are scratching the surface of what is achievable, and the IIG will ensure the Academic programmes and other educational / development programmes remain sustainable and repeatable – the challenge will be to scale these initiatives year-on-year.
The IIG theme for 2020 is #InsuringTomorrow. How does this resonate with you?
I selected the #InsuringTomorrow theme for 2020 for a few reasons.
- Firstly, we have a collective onus as the generation around today in creating a scalable and repeatable environment for tomorrow – that includes environment, business, longevity, capital, etc
- The IIG strategy for 2020 was laser-beam focused on sustainability as per the BCG analysis conducted in 2015
- Why ensure, when you can insure (my jokes take some getting used to…)
- Don’t forget the leaf emoji after the hashtag – the leaf is symbolic of rebirth, growth, and sustainability – relevant to 2020’s focus.
And on a serious note, part of ensuring tomorrow, is how seriously and decisively we deal with Covid-19. Each person is equally integral to the solution and simply must play their part.
What would a successful term as president look like for you?
Firstly, I wish the insurance market and South Africa Godspeed as a whole as we embark on this 21-day lockdown journey to save our country from the ravages of what will unfold if we continued to do nothing. I am encouraged by the unity and spirit shown in some countries who have already commenced their lockdown – take Italy as an example. Although arguably their lockdown started too late, their country is in full lockdown and the majority of Italians are in a forced isolation. Yet across areas in Rome, Turin, Milan and Naples, humanity has prevailed and the dominant human spirit has manifested in the hundreds, if not thousands of people that sing from their balconies. This resilience in the face of adversity is not only acceptance of one of the worst global crises ever to unfold in this generation, but is a animation of grit and resolve – the stubborn will to overcome. South Africa needs to have a similar spirit, and I am naively optimistic that we will not disappoint, and will show each other the incredible resolve this nation collectively has.
After we as a country have beat the Covid-19 threat, I would be honoured if the IIG had been able to achieve the following results:
- Delivery of adequate CPD-accredited content to suffice annual CPD requirements
- Confirmed repeatability and sustainability of the Academic bursary programme
- After the the shutdown and confirmation of an open social mandate from the SA President’s office, the delivery of well-deserved professional networking events in the JHB market: Youth Day, Pedal Power & Warrior Challenges, the Ladies Day event, and the golf days will be even more appreciated post our isolation period. It goes without saying, the IIG will also monitor the post-shutdown social distancing requirements in terms of events we host, and their timings.
- A digitalised IIG delegate experience for events in 2020, creating cost-efficiencies for the IIG office into the future
- The continuation of a diverse IIG council and IIG exco in 2021 to ensure a representative team
- The opportunity to lead the IIG International delegation to Moscow and Delhi in end-September / October and share in the learnings from 20% of the world’s population – Russia is the world’s largest country and a top 20 insurance market, and India is a leader in innovation and technology and also boasts a massive population. Besides the delegates learning how our BRICS trading partners do insurance in similar markets to SA, they will also witness the Taj Mahal (1 of the 7 wonders of the world) and 900 year old Moscow with its Red Square and Kremlin!
- For each and every councillor and ambassador to have given their 100% into executing the IIG mandate, and enjoyed every minute in giving back to the industry.
To the insurance market, thank you for what you do day-in and day-out for the South African consumer, business owner, and economy as a whole. The insurance industry offers protection, continuity, and sustainability – we should be very proud of our occupations and must continue to innovate, educate and remain focused on rebuilding SA into the country we wish it to be. #InsuringTomorrow