INDUSTRY FOCUS: INSURANCE
South Africa’s financial sector is one of the country’s most robust industries. Providing services including commercial, retail and merchant banking; mortgage lending; insurance and investment products to millions of people, through innovative and inventive new methods - financial services truly acts as a shining beacon for investors. Backed by a sound regulatory and legal framework which has attracted many of the world’s most prominent financial institutions, South Africa’s sophisticated financial services industry is globally respected and the leader on the continent. It is a driver of the economy and a serious developer of new products and ideas that suit the growing demands of a differentiated client base. As the country has changed, so has the market and today the demand for financial products is widespread. However, although the industry is making great inroads and bringing down the number of uninsured and unbanked, it has received criticism for being too complicated. A report published last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that, in general, South Africans had low levels of financial literacy with just 30% gaining minimum target scores. The trend was consistent in countries around the world with many countries showing low levels of financial knowledge but South Africa placed bottom of the charts. Fortunately, there are companies that have recognised this and that have developed business models and products to suit the market place. Take Clientèle for example. Specialising in life, health and legal products, the company prides itself on offering convenient and easy to understand financial services products to the public through various direct marketing and sales distribution channels.
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This is a business that fits perfectly within the country’s highly reputable industry and has claimed awards that demonstrate its excellence. In 2009, Clientèle was named Best Insurance Company in the Star’s Readers Choice Awards; in 2010, it claimed best rated company listed under the Life Sector of the JSE on the Business Times Top 100 Companies Survey; in 2013 it was awarded 1st position for Service Excellence in the long-term insurance industry by the Ask Afrika Orange index; from 2013 to 2015 it ranked in the Elite Top 20 in the Financial Mail Top Companies, in 2014 Clientèle ranked second in Financial Mail Top Companies; and in 2016, the company took home top honours at the fiercely competitive CCMG Awards. “Clientèle is no stranger to industry awards,” said Henry Dlandla, Executive: Client Services. “We are consistently recognised because we remain committed to putting our clients first. To them we say, thank you for your loyalty, we will not stop trying to find new ways to improve your experience with us.” Clientèle’s product range includes affordable funeral, health, legal, life and loan products, along with investment and wealth offerings. Group Managing Director, Basil Reekie tells Enterprise Africa that the company has changed and developed over the years, coming a long way since its founding 25 years ago. “Clientèle, then called Clientèle Financial Services (CFS), was founded in 1992 by Brian Benfield and Bruce Howard originally as a financial services intermediary. In 1998, we were recapitalized to form Clientèle Life, which later became the launching pad for other exciting ventures, including the IFA Business Opportunity, South Africa’s largest and most successful insurance network marketing based company and Clientèle Legal.
“Lots has changed since our establishment. We now have a staff count of approximately 1,800. Our offering was originally limited to funeral cover and now amongst others it includes savings, funeral, health insurance, legal and life products. The turnover then was also a lot smaller back then, now we have a turnover of a couple of billion per annum. We are also now a JSE-listed company,” he says. In its early days, Clientèle spotted a gap in the market and started to exploit it through innovative marketing and new ways of selling. “There was a huge market opportunity,” says Reekie. “At the time, there was no telesales insurance provider in the market - what Clientèle did at the time was truly revolutionary. By using the previously unexploited mediums of television and the telephone, we made our simple and accessible insurance products available to ordinary South Africans using well-known media personalities.” Thanks to this strategy, Clientèle has become a recognised, award winning South African organisation that provides shareholders with sustained growth and returns on their investments, with Return on Shareholder Equity consistently exceeding 50%, and continues to develop exciting new products. “We are one of the bigger players in the telesales space, as well as the health insurance market, and the legal insurance market,” details Reekie. “We are also leading the way in funeral insurance as can be evidenced by our recent launch of the, first of its kind in South Africa, Ultimate Funeral product which includes our interesting Premium Pay Back Benefit. This benefit pays back all premiums on death of the Main Insured or spouse on top of the cover amount. In the last year, we added to this offering by including the option to receive 50% of the Main Insured’s
May's Enterprise Africa