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Momentum sustainability report 2008/2009

10 November 2009 Momentum
Nicolaas Kruger, Chief Executive Officer of the Momentum Group

Nicolaas Kruger, Chief Executive Officer of the Momentum Group

Momentum, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the FirstRand group, released its 2009 Sustainability Report on Friday 6 November 2009, cementing an approach to business which views sustainability issues as inseparable from business as usual.

“Companies release financial results periodically to measure the profitability of their businesses. Tracking non-financial indicators is however becoming more important,” says Nicolaas Kruger, Chief Executive Officer of the Momentum Group.

The report shows that Momentum is on track in its efforts to provide access to financial services, and to interact transparently, responsibly and fairly with customers, employees, suppliers, communities and the environment.

In less than two years, Momentum has written more than 63,000 Zimele compliant policies. Zimele is a set of standards put in place by the industry body ASISA in partnership with Government, Community and Labour, for long-term insurance policies. The standards provide minimum product requirements of fair charges, easy access and decent terms, specifically for South Africa’s low-income earners.

Kruger says, “We believe providing access to financial services is one of the key and unique ways that financial institutions can contribute to the upliftment of disadvantaged communities. More than that, it also opens up prospective markets that have great growth potential for financial institutions. Our partnership with FNB has helped us establish a footprint into this very important market and our plan is to extend this even further through innovative distribution models”.

In the overall insurance, savings and investment market, Momentum serviced 5.7 million customers with 1.5 million retail customers, 1.8 million institutional clients, and 2.4 million through FNB. Although servicing 15% of South Africa’s long-term insurance policyholders, Momentum only accounted for 6% of complaints received by the Ombudsman for long-term insurance.

“Momentum also conducts regular customer satisfaction surveys and the latest indicates that we are mostly on par or exceed service expectations”, says Kruger.

Sustainability also includes the tracking of transformation in terms of the makeup of employees and suppliers, ensuring that progress towards goals remain on track to be met.

Momentum employs 5012 people across the country, of this, 60% are female and 59% are African, Coloured and Indian. “Momentum has set specific objectives which include meeting management targets by not only attracting the right people from the market, but also growing our people into management and other required positions,” says Kruger.

The role that Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s) play has been recognized as one of the most important ways of addressing unemployment and ultimately, poverty in South Africa. One of the ways that Momentum contributes to the development of SMME’s, (outside of the Financial Sector Charter target for Enterprise Development) is by spending an increasing amount of its procurement spend on broad-based black economic empowerment suppliers who are also SMME’s. In 2008 Momentum spent 53% (R570 million) of its procurement spend on BBBEE suppliers.

The community Momentum operates in is also a big part of its sustainability plans and this is done through contributions towards CSI programmes. In the financial year to June 2009, Momentum contributed approximately R15.4 million towards programmes focused on Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, and the Disabled. In addition, Momentum staff raised R676,000 through Momentum’s employee volunteer fund programme.

“The sustainability of the natural environment is receiving greater attention with the upcoming Copenhagen, climate change conference in December and many other interventions and conferences seen over the past decade. Although developing countries such as ours have been slow to adopt climate change policies due to our dependence on fossil fuel, this does not mean we should be complacent. Momentum recognises the role it needs to play on behalf of its customers and employees to be responsible in its consumption and therefore better manage its emissions” says Kruger.

Momentum’s environmental issues are monitored by FirstRand. FirstRand is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, the Carbon Disclosure Project and has adopted the Equator Principles for the 2010 financial year starting 1 July 2009.

Momentum’s measured carbon emission for the year totalled 18,384 tonnes CO2e. “This amount will now be tracked in coming years to make sure that the measures that Momentum has put in place, produce the real results of reducing our emissions,” says Kruger.

In conclusion, Kruger says, “The report provides a benchmark for scrutiny, both internally and externally, with year on year comparisons to verify or evaluate our progress”.

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