Refreshed strategy places Old Mutual on course to navigate the new normal

The 175-year-old company knows a thing or two about getting through a crisis

23 October 2020 - 10:12
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We understand that change, challenge and opportunity will always be around, writes Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson.
We understand that change, challenge and opportunity will always be around, writes Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson.
Image: Alon Skuy

As a trusted company that has been sustaining, growing and protecting the prosperity of its customers, families and communities for 175 years, Old Mutual knows a thing or two about navigating a crisis.

We understand that change, challenge and opportunity will always be around. This is why we believe the challenges posed by Covid-19 require us all to reimagine the future and begin developing the world we want for ourselves, and for future generations. We need to ensure that the new, empowered world is more inclusive, free of discrimination, and united in eradicating evils such as gender-based violence. Future generations need to know, through our actions, that we care and did the right thing to secure a future we can all be proud of.

While we have learnt many lessons since 1845, an enduring takeout is that the deep and lasting relationship of mutual trust between the company and its customers will be the foundation on which all future endeavours are built. 

The future will be bright for companies who can build on the trust, resilience and reliability earned over a century or more. But even leading companies will need to adapt fast to ensure they remain future-fit. This will require new thinking and new approaches to how we sail through the stormy waters caused by Covid-19. 

The anchors we are using to tackle the new normal include intensifying efforts to become our customers’ first choice and most trusted partner by providing consistently great service and innovative solutions that create real value.

We are fully embracing the digital future by offering even more ways for customers to interact with us. With the funds entrusted to us, we are working to strengthen the economies where we operate and support society’s vital building blocks: education, skills development and entrepreneurship. All of this is made possible through our talented and committed people, whose wellbeing we continue to prioritise. 

A purpose-led approach that integrates strategy, ambition and responsibility to create shared value for stakeholders is essential to the sustainability of business. Key to expanding our brand into a truly African one is the successful track record we have built of investing in transformative initiatives, such as public infrastructure, agriculture, affordable housing, and transaction financing for small businesses. We have also demonstrated that we understand the climate for business and investment in the economies we operate in. 

Our recent commitment to building “Africa’s biggest digital classroom” is an example of how purpose can create shared value. Greater access to quality education can only be beneficial for both the continent and our business, and we are leveraging both old and new partnerships to address education exclusion, financial literacy and the poor teacher-to-learner ratios endemic across Africa. 

We have a leading market share in the Southern African Development Community and we are expanding our operations in East and West Africa through strategic alliances and leveraging product capabilities into our key markets. We have a firm foundation of success to build from on the continent, with our initial listings across Zimbabwe, Namibia and Malawi dating as far back as 1999. 

We have therefore refreshed our strategy to ensure it is customer-led and enabled by relevant solutions, based on delivering integrated, holistic financial services and harnesses the effective use of data, among many others.

Successful companies will be those that analyse and understand the changes in customer behaviour and needs, and adapt quickly to meet those needs. Innovation will be needed at scale to drive affordable solutions to an increasingly discerning client base. 

About the author: Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson
About the author: Old Mutual CEO Iain Williamson
Image: Supplied/Old Mutual

A couple of major trends are likely to play out from a financial services perspective. We need to expect our insurance products to benefit from renewed awareness of the need for protection against risk events. At the same time, we expect continued pressure on our savings offerings as customers’ need for liquidity in the current environment may make them hold on to cash savings. We also need to be alert to the fact that most economies will continue to struggle from the aftereffects of the pandemic. 

In response to these potential challenges, our purpose is to help our customers thrive by enabling them to achieve their lifetime financial goals, while investing their funds in ways that will create a positive future for them and the broader society. Our intention is to improve the lives of customers and their communities while ensuring a sustainable future for our business.

By repeatedly demonstrating our 175-year-old purpose of championing mutually positive futures for our customers across Africa, we will ensure our brand remains as compelling as it is authentic and credible.

And, drawing on our long history of delivering trusted advice and exceptional customer service no matter the challenges, Old Mutual is well placed to ensure the new normal is filled with hope.

This article was paid for by Mazda.