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Santam partners with industry bodies to transform financial sector and address unemployment

09 June 2015 Santam
Goolam Zalgaonkir (short-term insurance principal broker at Personix) assists one of the learners, Imraan Sayed, with an enquiry.

Goolam Zalgaonkir (short-term insurance principal broker at Personix) assists one of the learners, Imraan Sayed, with an enquiry.

Back row from left: Goolam Zalgaonkir (short-term insurance principal broker at Personix), Imraan Sayed (learner) and MH Ismail, office manager responsible for Finance, HR, IT, Projects, Procurement and Compliance at Personix. Front row from left: Andrea Bruinders (learner), John Lomberg (manager: Stakeholder Relations) and Simone Isaacs (learner).

Back row from left: Goolam Zalgaonkir (short-term insurance principal broker at Personix), Imraan Sayed (learner) and MH Ismail, office manager responsible for Finance, HR, IT, Projects, Procurement and Compliance at Personix. Front row from left: Andrea Bruinders (learner), John Lomberg (manager: Stakeholder Relations) and Simone Isaacs (learner).

A Santam partnership with the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) to train and empower young black intermediaries as part of the Santam Black Broker Development Programme (SBBDP) is proving to be valuable and self-empowering for learners.

“Santam’s SBBDP programme has been running for some time in partnership with the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (Inseta). Though it has made a meaningful contribution to the sector we felt it was time to take it to the next level and make a bigger impact,” said John Lomberg, Stakeholder Relations Manager at Santam.

“Through the involvement of the FIA, this new partnership, Project 50, has ensured commitment from intermediaries to integrate learners within their brokerages.”

Lomberg says Santam is pleased to be able to extend its efforts to transform the industry through Project 50. “By facilitating and providing skills development for the insurance industry, nurturing black intermediaries is an important initiative in addressing unemployment levels in South Africa. The reality is that despite impressive economic growth rates since democracy in South Africa, unemployment and poverty still persist at unacceptable levels in our country. According to October 2014 figures from Statistics South Africa the country has an unemployment rate of 25.4%,” he says.

Personix Financial Solutions in Gatesville, Athlone in the Western Cape, has taken on three SBIDI learners, one of which is part of the Project 50 group. MH Ismail, office manager responsible for Finance, HR, IT, Projects, Procurement and Compliance at Personix, says the rationale for their involvement is fairly simple: “We consider it our duty to give back and to play our part in empowering young minds who want to contribute to the financial services industry. There is immense value in this programme and I would encourage any broker to get involved and play their part in contributing to the growth of the industry.

“It is critical that the learners get the right kind of exposure from a brokerage and it is imperative that we avail permanent staff to coach and mentor them. This, in my opinion, will be the cornerstone of the success of this programme. Investing time in mentoring and guiding them to believe they have the power to create their own future. I am confident that the three leaners we have selected are committed and passionate young people with successful careers in our industry ahead of them,” concludes Ismail.

Imraan Sayed, a Project 50 learner, finds the programme very valuable and explains he likes the claims aspect of the business. “I enjoy engaging with the clients and realised soon that this industry is ultimately about people and good service. I am keen to learn as much as I can,” he says.

Another learner, Simone Isaacs, says the positive approach of the staff at Personix contributes to a very conducive learning environment. “They are eager to guide and share their knowledge and invest in our progress. It is very heartening and a huge motivation for us to succeed” she says.

Lomberg explains that Project 50 is the brainchild of a group of learners from Santam’s 2014 Senior Leadership Development Programme. The learners saw an opportunity to grow the number of candidates signing up for the SBIDI learnership by partnering with the FIA. “We’re confident the new partnership will meet the growing demand for black intermediary graduates in the insurance industry.”

Johan Heymans, regional manager of the FIA, says this partnership with Santam and Inseta is a great opportunity for their member intermediaries to do their part to transform the industry without incurring the administrative and human resources costs that usually accompany such initiatives. “The Financial Sector Code demands that we actively promote a transformed, vibrant and globally competitive financial sector. Santam and Inseta should be commended for their efforts in what can only be described as a tough employment environment.

“Project 50 is designed to assist intermediaries to build successful and sustainable businesses that comply with broader BEE legislation. Over time this project will play an important role in meeting the sector’s broader transformation objectives, reducing unemployment and building up a pool of experienced young black intermediaries to benefit the sector.

“As a trade association representing intermediaries in all the insurance disciplines, we have approached our membership to participate in the project by hosting learners at their businesses for a period of 12 months, since March 2015. In association with Santam we have placed 50 learners split equally between the Western Cape region and Gauteng,” says Heymans.

Santam has an excellent working relationship with training provider ARTG, who is responsible for mapping the formal education requirements of the programme. The formal programme will provide learners with a foundation for their career in insurance. The 12-month programme will see successful candidates graduate with a level 4 NQF qualification in short-term insurance. Learners receive a stipend of R4 000 per month.

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