Executive Outlook 2022: Willem du Toit, Marsh Corporate Segment Leader and National Branch Leader, Marsh

Executive Outlook 2022
Willem du Toit, Marsh Corporate Segment Leader and National Branch Leader, Marsh

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  1. What are your thoughts on employees returning to a conventional office setting?
    It has been a very challenging two years for South Africans; no-one envisaged a lockdown in excess of 600 days. As normality gradually returns, there will be certain pockets of business that will continue working from home, while the majority of people will be back in the office. Businesses are evaluating what is right for them, their clients, and for their colleagues. If we consider the traffic between Johannesburg and Pretoria a year ago and compare the same to now, it speaks for itself.
  2. As the pandemic recedes, how do you see the competition for talent on teams?
    If the pandemic has taught South African businesses anything, there are many lessons being learnt around resilience, which is elevating the role of risk management – and risk managers – as an enabler of success. We are very fortunate to have a diverse pool of rich talent in the South African insurance industry and competition for quality specialists is always fierce.
  3. Consumers' expectations around product delivery and service have changed as a result of Covid-19, how do you foresee insurance adapting to this?
    Insurance has always been very personal, with a large trust component linked to it. While digitalisation and electronic platforms have a clear role to play in improving efficiency, technology should be complementary to – rather than a replacement for – the human interaction that is required in our industry. Face-to-face meetings will continue to play an important role amongst our clients and the wider insurance community.
  4. What are your thoughts on the prospect of more face-to-face interactions with clients?
    It’s going to be critical – we will be back in face-to-face meetings with our clients and markets sooner than later. In fact, our clients and markets are requesting this and we are more than happy to meet face-to-face where possible, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
  5. With the acceleration of digital transformation and AI, what data-driven solutions are you exploring or promoting?
    We approach the adoption of new technologies from a client-centric point of view, asking how they will enhance the client experience and deliver improved efficiency, for example. There are various solutions that we are investigating – mainly focusing on improved service delivery from a digital perspective, moving away from manual administrative systems to digital systems that can provide added administrative assistance.
  6. How do you see advisory businesses growing in the future?
    There is an immense growth opportunity in the advisory space – risks are becoming more and more complex with underwriters looking at the “good risks” first – risks that are not attractive for underwriters require more work to become more marketable. For clients, providing underwriters with structured plans and information on how they are improving their risk profiles is key to the future sustainability of insurance placements, avoiding increased premiums and punitive deductible structures. Without proper planning to ensure risks are more attractive for underwriters – especially risks that are difficult to place or have seen large claims – future insurance might not be available. Marsh has a clear role to play in supporting clients in this area.