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Indwe Risk Services

Risk is an inherent part of business, especially so in challenging and unpredictable times such as these; in today’s business environment there is no “sure thing”. Though it is impossible to prepare against every unexpected eventuality, it is of course possible to take precautionary measures. And as the premiere brokerage in not only South Africa but across the entire African continent, Indwe Risk Services offers a customer focused service which gives peace of mind to both its corporate and individual clients.

Having just toasted a successful 2012, Peter Olyott, Managing Director of Indwe Risk spoke to Endeavour magazine about fresh trends, opportunities and risks in the market, as well as what separates Indwe from its competitors. Risk is acknowledged but not flaunted and is sometimes mistaken for gambling. Management of that risk becomes even more important as it gives comfort to the shareholders, customers, employees and so on. Importantly, a business that is effectively managed can confirm its compliance with corporate governance requirements when it comes to risk and risk-standards. The difference between what is expected to happen and what transpires is risk. The process of identifying risks to which a certain organization is exposed, evaluating them in terms frequency and seriousness and taking appropriate action is management. Once you know what the potentials are, the best way to manage them is determined in a scientific and proactive method and there are few companies that approach this better than Indwe Risk Services. Peter Olyott, managing director, has been in the industry for over two decades and is leading Indwe through the latest batch of, “New regulations, new legislations and new risks,” but where others may see problems he sees only opportunity, “Change is inevitable and good for those who know what to look for and can adapt.” Indwe Risk Services, now in its seventh year of operations, is a product of the 2006 merger between South Africa’s premier insurance brokerages – Thebe Risk Services & Prestasi Brokers. This has given Indwe unparalleled heritage and experience within the sector. Thebe Risk Services was the evolution of what began in 1903 as Hoskens Insurance. In 1992, it became the insurance

Endeavour Magazine • March 2013 •

Indwe Risk Services

arm of Thebe Investment Corporation, the country’s oldest black empowered financial institution and its focus was primarily on the insurance needs of corporations. Prestasi Brokers was established in 1972 and rapidly became known for its innovative short-term insurance offerings for individuals and SMME sectors. In April 2001 it became a fully empowered organisation when Pamodzi Investment Holdings bought a controlling stake. Today, Indwe Risk Services represents more than 120 000 individual, commercial and corporate clients. Working with companies like Auto and General, Indwe Risk Services are able to provide their clients with the best brokerage advice and services in the industry. It’s the intellectual value of being able to determine exactly what is needed by the use of a scientific approach. “Insurance is economics in its purest form; you get what you pay for. It boils down to how much you take in income via premiums vs. how much you pay in claims. If a customer pays R200 per month for personal cover while another pays R2000, who is going to receive the best cover? The more thoughtful consumers understand this and this is why our clients stick with us.” Indwe Risk Services is unique as it is 100% South African, working with South Africans and for the South African market, it is also the largest composite broker in the country. “It’s a people business,” he explains, “It’s important that everything we do is with people. To ensure our employee standards are at the highest we offer a graduate trainee program A&G_Ad duringResize which they spend a 1full2/27/13 year as 5:20 an intern and 188mmx138mm.pdf PM

another in training before being sent to a respective branch. However we have around 600 employees and we have worked to ensure that we have the right type of person in the job. A mainstay of the process is that our employees buy into our strategy and brand. We are employee centred; we care for our employees who in turn care for their customers. In our business you must care about people. We deal with people who are at their most vulnerable, having perhaps lost their loved ones, homes, cars etc. Empathy over a degree is more important to us.” Used effectively, management can underpin the strategy of an organization and provide the organization with a level of competitive advantage. Of course if applied poorly or incorrectly it may have the precise opposite effect. Businesses are vulnerable to a range of threats and as the world becomes ever more connected and the dependency of companies on each other increases exponentially, changes have a knock on effect on every business in that industry. It is up to the bosses in charge of a company to responsibly manage the risks to which a company may find itself exposed. Be it through financial, legal or personnel injury. “Risk effects everything,” Peter says, “Public and private organizations of every size and location. And the management of it is the bosses responsibility. They need to put an effective and clear programme in place that the employees can follow.” It supports accountability, performance measurement and reward thus promoting efficiency at all levels. Risk is characterized by a degree of uncertainty. Whenever









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there is certainty as to what may happen and how often it may happen the risk reduces. Conversely, where there is a high degree of uncertainty as to both the severity and frequency, the risk increases. Management is not a matter of being beneficial but of being vital. It’s important to understand, effective risk management can lower the risk of unexpected and unpleasant surprises. As it is a management programme it does not take effect overnight as it involves the movement and ultimately organization of people, “From onset the chances of problems diminishes.” Also, if risk is managed effectively it means the company can gain an advantage over its competitors. Effective risk management allows faster and economical recovery should the worst happen. Finally, a particular risk is often created in terms of law and an effective risk management programme allows companies to operate successfully and comply with the laws to which they are subject to. Insurance is, after all, about managing and preparing for the future. When a business adopts this sort of philosophy it is destined to benefit from such a course. It creates a safer working environment for employees, a more sustainable future and a stronger foundation. The future of risk management is looking increasingly complex. Global market dynamics continue, technological changes abound, environmental risk becomes more complex and new dimensions of social risks are coming to the fore, resulting in a rapidly evolving risk management landscape. Risk and compliance functions have certainly become

even more critical and complex. Most companies are reviewing their current and future state or and compliance blueprints. An example could be legal and reputation risks in using social media like blogs and Facebook, Twitter or the cross border legal risks in international online shopping portals. Following a highly successful 2012 over which Peter was “able to tick off more boxes for things we had done than things we hadn’t”, Indwe is looking to carry this form into 2013. In particular, Peter highlighted how the company will continue to personalise service in an industry which is becoming increasingly commoditised. “Our strategy is quite simple; it’s all about the customer and the values we have adopted. As an innovative, professional and knowledgeable business we must be customer focused, not product focused in relation to both our personal and corporate markets. It is simple and it is working. This is crucial as our industry has become increasingly regulated which has shifted increasing power to the customer. The plan is to keep Indwe Risk Services at the top of the game and for that reason we never carry on and instead always re-assess. Of course we always look out for present opportunities, but it is better to try to stay two-three years ahead in terms of strategy which is a long time in our business! There is constant technological, social and legal change and it is better to build a bandwagon then to jump on one. At the end of the day though, we all sell the same product so it all boils down to who does it best.”

Indwe Risk Services 0027 12 47111 007 Written by Djamil Benmehidi

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