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9 Trends that will shape financial services in 2022

15 December 2021 Sanlam

Sanlam’s Chief Executives each pick their top trend

Nine leaders from across the Sanlam Group share their pick for the single biggest trend we can expect in financial services in 2022. 

  1. COVID-19’S SHIFT TO ENDEMICITY – Lotz Mahlangeni, Chief Actuary and Chief Risk Officer

Covid-19 pandemic is expected to shift from an acute pandemic disease to an endemic disease (like the seasonal flu) but the timing of the transition is uncertain. 2022 will provide more evidence on whether the current Omicron variant – highly transmissible but seemingly less severe - is the beginning of the shift to endemicity. 

Once this shift happens, we will return to some sense of normalcy, predictability and stability in operating conditions and environments in the countries in which we operate. This will reduce the levels of disruptions in business operations and enable better business and operational planning, with more confidence and conviction. This will increase consumer and business confidence levels and enable greater investment and economic activity. However, as we have experienced since the onset of Covid-19, the pandemic has evolved in unpredictable ways and consequently the premium on business, operational and financial resilience remains key. 

In terms of the pricing and underwriting for life insurance products that we provide to our clients, a Covid-19 endemic disease will be treated like other endemic diseases. 

  1. THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL INFLATION – Arthur Kamp, Chief Economist Sanlam Investments

Global inflation will be one of the most impactful side effects of the pandemic, globally and locally. There is a demand and supply mismatch in many countries, which will profoundly impact inflation and won’t ease overnight. The good news is that central banks in the European Union, United Kingdom and United Sates (US) view today’s inflation pressures as temporary or transitory in nature. 

The US maintains inflation at around 2.5% through 2022 but we will need to keep a close eye on the Fed in this regard. Inflation is top of mind in South Africa too, with consumer price index likely to top 5% entering 2022. The good news from an inflation perspective is that commodity prices are showing signs of cooling, though there will be negative impacts on state revenues. 

South Africans would be wise to plan for rising interest rate, for instance, not taking on higher debt levels than they can afford. 

  1. CULTURES THAT TRANSCEND LOCATION - Paul Hanratty, Group Chief Executive

People’s attitude and commitment to their place of employment will be the difference between success and failure in 2022 and beyond. And while there has been a lot of talk about losing cultures if we aren’t together in the office, the hybrid working world is very likely here to stay. So, building robust corporate cultures that transcend the location of the employee will be a vital part of our jobs in 2022. This will require innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. 

At Sanlam, we are striving for a ‘calculated, risk-taking culture’. This is the only way we will deliver on our strategy of becoming an African champion. We can’t sit still. We must evolve; we have to digitise quickly and continuously. To do this, we will rely on the energy of our people to deliver on our plans. We will foster a culture that rises above the location of the employee and is packed with innovation, ideas and growth. 

  1. DIGITAL-FIRST FOR TRADITIONAL INSURANCE GROUPS - Nat Jabengwa, Group Digital Executive

Much has been written about the acceleration of digital transformation off the back of the pandemic. Some industries - and we count groups with their roots in insurance among them - were straddling traditional business models and digital ones. 2022 will see the rapid rise of the digital-first non-banking financial services group. This does not represent a move away from traditional advisers, but rather an extension of distribution channels and improvement in client service through all these channels. 

Sanlam has strong digital offerings, but we still can’t be called ‘digital-led’. 2022 will be a seminal year in this regard as we move to realise our ambitions of group-wide digital transformation - ramping up our digital customer acquisitions, building efficient distribution channels through digital enablement, and leapfrogging our customer experience. We believe our customers in South Africa, Africa and all our regions will benefit hugely as we ramp up personalisation, allowing individuals to succeed financially. 

  1. SPIKE IN INSURTECH PARTNERSHIPS - Jurie Strydom, Chief Executive: SA Life and Savings

Insurtech companies use technology cost efficiently to broaden access to a large underinsured and uninsured market. While insurtech’s adoption has been far from slow - the global insurtech market was set to grow 41% between 2019 and 2023 - we’ll see it ramp up strongly in 2022, in particular through partnership activity between life insurance players and up-and-coming insurtechs. This is a particularly important trend for the African continent, where insurance penetration is very low and tech-led scalable models are our best hope of reaching more people efficiently, helping them protect their wealth - a vital part of financial confidence. 

Our industry has access to intelligent data, which previously has often been held separately, with databases unable to ‘talk to each other’. Cloud computing will change all of that. It will show us our clients’ full picture and we can then adapt our offering to them. Creating a highly personalised offering is a huge priority for us in 2022, so we are very excited by our recent partnership with Datarobot, a leading enterprise AI technology company that will allow us to make this a reality. 

AI and robotics will continue to disrupt parts of our industry, from distribution and underwriting to claims. Sanlam is well positioned to implement trends rapidly in our business, having been the founding African partner for Plug n Play in Silicon Valley since 2018, giving us access to some of the leading players in Insurtech across the value chain globally. Our digital businesses Sanlam Indie and MiWay will continue to be a strong strategic focus for the group. 

  1. IMPACT INVESTING AND ESG GO MAINSTREAM - Nersan Naidoo, Chief Executive: Sanlam Investments

The meaningful deployment of investment capital to meet ESG needs will ensure our children inherit a world worth having. More and more investors - retail and institutional - are highly cognisant of this fact. So, the drive to clean energy and ‘net zero’ will continue to dominate investment news in 2022, with shareholder activism likely to increase. South Africa’s own energy crisis will continue, and we are hopeful that we may see clean energy from independent producers entering the grid. 

Sanlam Investments is committed to becoming Africa’s preeminent sustainable investor. We’ll identify areas where we can collectively drive the most impact. In South Africa, job creation is immediately top of mind. Next year, we forecast even more emphasis on this. 

Infrastructure will be another area of focus for 2022. Right now, to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, Africa needs another $150 billion pa in infrastructure spend. Intelligent infrastructure investing could go a long way to support economic activity, improve economic access and combat inequality. 

  1. PURPOSEFUL TRANSFORMATION - Karl Socikwa, group executive: Market Development and Sustainability

In 2021, we launched the Sanlam Gauge, a barometer of transformation in South Africa. The findings have highlighted a very important trend - one which we hope to be instrumental in driving. It is the move from transformation being a dashboard-based exercise to it becoming purposeful, and deeply entrenched in a company’s mission. This has, we believe, been spurred in part by the pandemic, where humanity has taken on far more prominence than profit. 

What I believe we will see in 2022 is transformation becoming about deliberate inclusion, rather than a tick-box exercise. This should fundamentally change the transformation narrative. Sanlam is a brand that seeks to enable successive generations to live securely and prosperously, so we take our position of influence very seriously. We know true inclusion goes beyond access to banking and credit. It’s about ensuring the previously marginalised have access to well-functioning financial infrastructure – and the confidence to manage their money. Next year we have a wide range of initiatives planned that will practically drive our purpose in the lives of Africans. 

  1. EVOLVING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS - Kanyisa Mkhize, Chief Executive: Sanlam Corporate

COVID-19’s long-term impact on the world of work remains uncertain, particularly as the fourth wave means we are still well and truly in the thick of the pandemic. What we do know is that our working world is far more complex and that corporates are expanding the ‘scope’ of their employee benefits to support employees, not just financially, but also in terms of their physical and emotional wellbeing. With this in mind, employee benefit solutions will be a key strategic priority in 2022 - with growing board-level focus being put on them. 

This trend is backed by stats: this year’s Sanlam Benchmark Survey highlighted that 49% of umbrella funds and 36% of stand-alone funds believed a holistic integrated health and financial wellness programme would help deliver higher productivity and staff happiness. 

At Sanlam, through the launch of Sanlam Health Solutions, we're working closely with our health partners to expand our health proposition and embed it as part of employee benefits. We’ve included virtual doctors’ consultation as part of our umbrella fund offering and we’ll launch a range of corporate wellness solutions early next year, including employee assistance programmes, primary healthcare, and vaccinations, all aimed at supporting employees and employers to address these trying times with confidence. 

  1. PURPOSE IN PRACTICE - Sydney Mbhele, Group Executive: Brand

In 2022, we believe more brands will relook their purpose to prioritise ESG impact. This must be done authentically, with genuine care and empathy. For us, it means ensuring our expanded product offering, data and digital transformation efforts, organisational culture, partnerships, and future-fit strategy all share the same single-minded mission. We’ll keep using the currency of creativity to reach people in novel ways. 

In 2021, we rebooted our business and brand to be a purpose-led organisation. In 2022, the emphasis from Sanlam will be finding practical, compelling and personalised ways to partner with Africans on their journey to financial confidence. Financial education will be joined by gamification and digital tools that use AI to curate solutions to help each individual build financial resilience.

Quick Polls

QUESTION

Are you shocked by Sasria’s 2022 rate increases, or is it expected given the sheer scale of the July 2021 rioting plus the ongoing increase in frequency and severity of protest losses?

ANSWER

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No, it was expected
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