Transformation is a big issue across sectors in South Africa, none more so than financial services, which includes the insurance industry.
“Our industry is 100% committed to transformation, but we have admittedly been slow to implement,” says Thokozile Mahlangu, CEO of the Insurance Institute of South Africa (IISA). “Attracting and retaining black talent to the industry is a challenge across the board, and one which we are tackling at all levels.”
The IISA is one of the organisers of the upcoming African Insurance Exchange (AIE) – the annual conference for the insurance industry in Southern Africa – together with the South African Insurance Association (SAIA). The event attracts close to 1000 delegates from across Southern Africa and from all avenues of insurance.
“The opportunities for networking and business development are enormous,” says Viviene Pearson, CEO of SAIA. “Unfortunately for some members of the industry, particularly black members, the cost of attending the conference is out of their budget – which is why the AIE organisers issued an appeal to the industry to sponsor the costs for a number of black insurance brokers to attend this year’s conference.”
All in all eight black brokers have been sponsored to attend, thanks to financial support from the IISA, SAIA, Santam, Indwe Risk Services, Old Mutual and Discovery.
The brokers are Prudence Makgatho of Safeway Risk Solutions, Siphe Madikizela of Xchange Wealth Management, Tebogo Mothapo of Legacy Wealth Management, Reginah Thomo of Munenerisk, Sikheto Sambo of Marara Risk Solutions, Otshepeng Sokhela of Oatsrisk, Siboniso Cele of Bonnet Brokers and Lawrence Mkwanazi of African Financial Intermediaries Association.
The brokers were selected with the assistance of the Financial Intermediaries Association (FIA), who worked hard to ensure that each attendee is deserving and will benefit from the experience.
“I look forward to hearing the keynote speaker, UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, and of course to hear about the trends in the financial industry in the rest of Africa,” says Munenerisk’s Reginah Thomo. “I think the sponsorship is an opportunity that needs to be taken by both hands with appreciation as it gives valuable exposure to SMME brokers who could or might not have prioritised it due to the financial costs involved, amongst other things.
“I also think that we will be able to network at a broader level and we hope business collaborations and partnerships may come out of this as well.”
Siphe Madikizela, director: investment and key individual at Xchnge Wealth Management, will be making her debut appearance at the AIE this year
“I will be attending the AIE for the first time this year, thanks to all the sponsors. Xchnge Wealth Management is a new company – not even a year old – and we wouldn’t have been able to afford this opportunity without their assistance.
“I am most looking forward to the outdoor activities as they will give me an opportunity to network, and that is what we need most to grow our company.”
Prudence Makgatho (FIISA) of Safeway Risk Solutions is also looking forward to the networking opportunities.
“The AIE is a huge opportunity to network and interact with players from all facets of the industry and learn about latest market trends,” she says. “I am most looking forward to the panels on ‘Doing business in a constantly changing financial sector’ and ‘Our insurtech future’.
“The AIE black broker sponsorship is a very progressive initiative that not only aligns with the urgent need for transformation but reflects real, tangible efforts to promote advancement of the profession beyond the current establishment and facilitate the penetration of black brokers in the industry.”
What the sponsors say:
“Education is a crucial element to building a diverse workforce in the financial services industry,” says Discovery Insure’s Darryl Grater. “We applaud SAIA and the IISA on their commitment towards education and skills upliftment and thank them for allowing Discovery Insure to be a part of the black broker sponsorship programme for the AIE.
“Our sponsorship is a small contribution towards transformation across the entire insurance spectrum.”
Indwe Risk Services is another programme sponsor.
“Indwe, through the Financial Intermediaries Association, has contributed to the IISA/SAIA initiative of allowing an independent black broker to attend the AIE,” says the company’s CEO, Peter Olyott. “We currently support a number of black broking initiatives and willingly contributed to the AIE black broker assistance programme to ensure that more people are given the opportunity to participate in the insurance event of the year.”
Old Mutual Insure’s executive of people and Brand, Liziwe Masoga, says the company takes its role of contributing to the transformation of our industry seriously,” says the company’s. “This does not stop at transforming our organisation, but extends to contributing to transformation initiatives broadly.
“Brokers are important partners to us and it’s in our interest that our partners reflect the diversity of our customers. We are really honoured to have been given the opportunity to sponsor black brokers to attend the AIE Conference in 2019.
“The AIE presents an excellent opportunity for black brokers to interact with all the important stakeholders in our industry, facilitating access to these important networks.”
Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, chief marketing officer at Santam, says the low prevalence of black brokers in the short-term insurance remains a challenge.
“As an industry we need to focus our attentions on attracting and sustaining black brokers, which will in turn drive insurance penetration and growth.
“Our sponsorship is a small contribution in showcasing the broader landscape and opportunities in the short-term insurance industry to the few that have been identified by the FIA, with a view that we will attract more brokers into the industry.”
Nox Dlamini, 2018 Insurance Apprentice winner and founder of XonRisk, says the initiative is a shot in the arm for transformation in the insurance industry.
“There is so much potential out there,” she says. “People just need to be given a chance. The networking opportunities at AIE are pure gold for emerging brokers. I am sure they will make the most of it and benefit both personally and professionally from the experience.
“I encourage the conference attendees to make the most of this opportunity. As an emerging broker there are many eyes on you and it’s important to realise that you are paving the way for black insurance professionals of the future.”
The AIE runs from 14 to 17 July at Sun City and attracts more than 1 000 delegates from all areas of insurance in South Africa and beyond.
* This article first appeared on CN&CO's website