The Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) and Santam have partnered to launch the FIA Transformation Initiative, a campaign focused on accelerating transformation in the South African intermediary space.
Santam, an FIA Level 1 partner, has been working closely with the FIA in identifying opportunities to accelerate transformation in the industry. The insurer was the first company to evaluate the FIA value proposition and proposal, and agreed to subsidise membership for their black and female-owned FSPs, giving them immediate access to specialised training and development for brokers, along with networking opportunities through the FIA network. The Santam development programme benefits more than 1000 intermediaries.
“Transformation in the FIA is vitally important,” says FIA CEO Lizelle van der Merwe. She explains that the FIA established a Transformation executive committee three years ago to carry out its ongoing transformation plans. These include an Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme, in partnership with the Association for Savings and Investment in South Africa (ASISA); a consumer education campaign to promote the role of the intermediary and the importance of financial advice, in partnership with ASISA and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA); and continuous training, and skills development.
“The Transformation executive committee has launched various projects to create awareness around the importance of transformation in the intermediary market,” Van der Merwe explains. The FIA has also provided guidance to regulatory proposals and submissions to help reduce barriers to entry, and reduce operational costs for black and new intermediaries.
Letlhogonolo Tau, Manager of Emerging Brokers at Santam, explains that through its partnership with the FIA, and other transformation initiatives, the insurer aims to empower previously disadvantaged intermediaries with skills and resources and attract new intermediaries to the market.
“The sustainability, education, and growth of the intermediary sector is important to Santam, not only for our intermediaries and the industry, but also for our end-clients and the quality of advice they receive,” he says. “We recognised a shortage of black intermediaries in our intermediary base, and set out to increase the number of black brokers we partner with,” Tau explains. “It all forms part of Santam’s plan to create a bigger, more representative distribution footprint, which will help us increase inclusivity,” he says.
A diverse representation of intermediaries in the FIA, and the greater financial services industry, will strengthen the voice of the intermediary in South Africa, explains Van der Merwe. “To ensure the sustainability and growth of intermediated distribution, we must address the various challenges to our intermediary representatives,” she notes.
In creating an insurance environment favourable to intermediary business, the FIA is helping the massive challenge of unemployment in South Africa. “Intermediaries are the gateway to entrepreneurship in the sector,” says Van der Merwe.
“With a dedicated focus on building the intermediary force and ensuring the sector’s sustainability, we can help with job creation, and ensure that clients get the necessary support and advice for insurance products,” she explains. “We want to thank Santam for their interest in supporting the growth and development of black and female-owned FSPs through FIA membership, and transformation in general,” Van der Merwe concludes.
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