Graeme Smith and Ruda Landman talk change on the Change Exchange

28 July 2014 Suzanne Stevens, BrightRock

A change-focussed online conversation platform conceived by needs-matched life insurance player, BrightRock.

Former South African cricket captain Graeme Smith started taking care of other guys, coaches and staff on tour at the age of 22 – something that was set to change his life forever. Now that he’s retired from professional cricket, his responsibilities are fully focused on his family.

“It’s like running a business. There’s a lot more love and care involved in a family – but it’s a similar thing: You have to manage relationships.”

This is one of many conversations taking place on BrightRock’s Change Exchange (, a dynamic online platform that taps into the emotions behind consumers’ biggest financial decisions. It is a space where people can learn from others going through the same “Change Moments”, ask questions and share experiences.

The most recent of these conversations is an exclusive interview between former Carte Blanche presenter Ruda Landman and Graeme, which was published on the Change Exchange earlier today (24 July 2014). Having tied the knot, had kids and given up his professional cricketing career to spend more time with his family, Graeme shares how he has been navigating these big changes in his life.

This is the second of a series of change-focussed interviews by Ruda, who herself is no stranger to change, having given up a secure, stable job in the media to pursue a career in freelancing. That’s why the series kicked off in May with an interview with Gareth Cliff, who left his job as a radio DJ to start his own “unradio” show, CliffCentral.

Says Ruda, “I find that people like to define you in terms of ‘what you do’ and if they feel that they cannot do this, they can’t quite understand it. In addition, moving to something that doesn’t come with a set salary package is daunting. I was curious to speak to both Graeme and Gareth about their motivation in making this significant change and what has guided their career decisions in the past.”

The Change Exchange focuses on four key Change Moments, which include “Starting a family”, “Tying the knot”, “Landing that job” and “Making a home”. A diverse mix of contributors, known as Change Agents, have shared their experiences on the Change Exchange — to name a few: Sam Wilson, Maya Fisher-French, Alan Knot-Craig jr., Kagiso Msimango, Richard Mulholland, Stuart Taylor and Stacey Vee.

Suzanne Stevens, Executive Director at BrightRock explains that they have identified an opportunity to engage with consumers at a more personal, emotional level. Industry research shows that consumers’ propensity to initiate an insurance purchase is far higher at these times. A 2012 study in the Journal of Risk and Insurance* found that new parents were 40% more likely to buy life insurance cover. It also showed an increase in self-initiated life insurance purchases when starting a new job.

“These significant life changes not only impact consumers’ finances, but also their health, lifestyle and sense of identity. BrightRock has identified an opportunity to engage with consumers at a more personal, emotional level.

“Traditionally, the role life insurance plays at these times is limited to the financial aspects of the change, and the interaction between provider and consumer tends towards the factual and rational. But these are moments that reshape the way we look at the world, and the way the world looks at us. The emerging field of behavioural economics has shown that people are far more driven by emotions and unconscious biases when making financial decisions than previously thought. BrightRock operates in this space, where emotions and money meet,” says Stevens.

“As our product is designed to change with you as your financial interests shift at these major, life changing moments, we believe these moments are exactly the right time to be engaging with consumers in a way that addresses both the financial and emotional impacts. Our product addresses people’s financial needs, and our aim with the Change Exchange is to also help people navigate some of the other aspects of these moments, regardless of whether they’re a BrightRock client or not.”

Since launching the Change Exchange in March 2014, over 14 000 visitors have enjoyed over 20 000 sessions on the site. This engagement has also spilled over into the social media space, with over 4 600 conversations flowing out of the topics discussed on the Change Exchange. Says Stevens: “These are early indicators that the concept is sound and the quality of the content is good. But we are well aware that these are the very first ‘baby steps’ and we fully expect that the Change Exchange will mirror life, and will change over time as it grows!”

Many more change moment Ruda-interviews are in the pipeline – some with well-known personalities, and some with interesting people you may never have heard of. One of these is an interview with her son, Johannes about his own drastic career-change from a position in television production to financial services.

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