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Business development is a key driver

17 January 2018Jonathan Faurie
Raimund Snyders

Raimund Snyders

Snyders joined the company in 1990 and was on hand to see the company grow as the country became a democracy in 1994. In 2013, he was tasked with the responsibility of building the capacity of the Group’s short term business so that it would become an integral part of the Group’s future growth strategy. 

In an exclusive interview, FAnews spoke with Snyders to find out more about growing the Group’s short term business during a challenging period. We also gained some insight into some of the industry’s current challenges as well as an insight into what the future holds for this industry stalwart. 

Challenging times

Snyders took over the helm at Mutual & Federal as the country was weathering the storm of a prolonged recovery from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. South Africa was plunged into further economic woes when it couldn’t find the catalyst of growth that the rest of the world managed to find following this crisis. 

This placed the South African financial services sector into a bit of a worrying situation as the allure of insurance was not as gleamingly bright as it should have been. The result of this saw several insurers (some of which were industry big hitters) becoming ultra-competitive when it came to get a piece of a rather small pie. 

Added to this is the fact that South Africa has experienced some of the worst catastrophic events in its history. 

“When I was asked to take over the reigns at Mutual & Federal, which became Old Mutual Insure in 2017, I was given the task of taking the company to the next level. Yes, the company experienced several challenges during my time as CEO, but these only highlighted the value of insurance and the soundness of the business that Old Mutual Insure historically was,” said Snyders adding that these challenges only made his time at the helm of the company extra special. 

Stepping up

Snyders pointed out that the task of taking the company to the next level came with two components. 

The first was to uphold the company’s promise to its clients. As pointed out earlier, the catastrophic events that the country experienced gave the company ample opportunities to fulfil this mandate. “We have an obligation to protect our clients. When disaster struck, we stepped in. This was very evident in the Knysna fires and the recent storms which ravaged Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal. We needed to show that we care,” said Snyders. 

The second component of Snyders’ mandate was to lead the company to take its rightful place within the Group. Snyders pointed out that this has not always been the case in the past and that the Group was eager to use Old Mutual Insure as one of the major components of the Group’s future growth. 

“Insurers that write multiple lines of business have always got a better chance at being profitable than a company that writes a single line of business. Writing multiple lines allows a company to diversify its risk pool and allows it to write on a larger portion of risk. Companies that write more than one line of business have a wider scope for growth,” said Snyders. 

The road to opportunity

One of the biggest challenges in the industry today is keeping up with a transformation agenda. However, it is a challenge Snyders feels the industry is addressing well. 

“We have made significant progress when it comes to addressing the transformation agenda. We are seeing staff profiles changing and we are seeing the leadership dynamics of the industry changing. However, a lot more needs to be done. The industry is not where it needs to be, and the industry needs to own this,” said Snyders. 

Snyders feels that a lot more needs to be done to create platforms that will educate and develop young talent. Upon retirement, Snyders does not plan to ride off into the sunset, but plans to remain active in the industry in a unique way. 

“I will not be joining another insurer; rather, I will be focusing on offering my services to the industry to support young leaders to help them build their businesses. Business development is a key driver that needs to be unlocked to encourage economic growth,” said Snyders. 

The industry’s vital cog

Snyders said that his time at Old Mutual Insure was made more special because of the relationships that he was able to build in the industry, particularly those with brokers. 

“The profile of the financial services industry is changing a lot; we cannot deny that. However, I feel that role of the broker is more relevant now than it has ever been in the past; they will remain a core player in the industry and clients need them. Yes, we have seen major growth among direct insurers, but this has plateaued. Brokers must not disappear, direct insurers have not managed to tap into the lower income earning market, and there is pressure to bring these clients into the industry,” said Snyders. 

Editor'S Thoughts:
For many people, retirement is the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Snyders has left behind a culture of hard work that many insurers aspire to achieve in their own businesses. FAnews wishes him the best in his future endevours. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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