Employee benefits to 2020 – Liberty CEO looks to the future

18 October 2016 Thabo Dloti, Liberty
Thabo Dloti, Chief Executive of the Liberty Group.

Thabo Dloti, Chief Executive of the Liberty Group.

In a dramatically changing world of employee benefits, one of the greatest challenges facing the industry, which is supposed to be providing those benefits, is the fact that employees simply do not trust the supposed experts in the way that they used to.

Thabo Dloti, Chief Executive of the Liberty Group, told over 500 delegates at the Liberty Employee Benefits Symposium at the Sandton Convention Centre yesterday, that not only were changed circumstances clouding how individuals viewed employee benefits but the very profile of those individuals was also changing.

“We’ve become used to a generation of people who saved and looked forward to a defined retirement age when they expected that their incomes and their living costs would not change. Things were predictable, but now with the emergence of Millennials or Generation Y, we are dealing with people who are approaching retirement entirely differently, with varied investment horizons,” Dloti said.

With changes in investment strategies, outcomes and expectations, a new understanding of healthcare and the emergence of new ways of communicating, the employee-benefits industry had to respond to new ways of providing benefits – and new customers.

Today, Dloti said, individuals wanted to be communicated with and engaged in ways in which enable them to interrogate meaningful information – without being overwhelmed by detail. “If we are going to win and maintain trust, we have to offer greater transparency and simplicity; people want useful, independent information that they can corroborate and act on. While online and mobile were the communications channels of choice for many customers, the employee-benefits sector had been slow to seize on the opportunities technology presents. “Fortunately, the banks are active in providing new platforms for people to engage with their financial wellness. We can learn a lot from them.”

Employee-benefits professionals were being challenged to provide holistic solutions to individuals’ needs, not compartmentalised offerings that didn’t speak to the totality of their needs. It was increasingly important, he said, that the industry practice meaningful employee benefit segmentation and differentiation – which meant not trying to deliver one-size-fits-all solutions.

In practising this paradigm shift, he said, the Liberty Group was implementing flexibility as a new dogma. “We can no longer assume that people won’t change employment, that they will only have one employer – and one spouse in a lifetime. We must build flexibility into what we’re offering these individuals; they’re all different, and that difference is only going to accelerate.”

Lastly, Dloti said, much greater use should be made of using customer and economic data to predict what individuals were going to do about their financial wellbeing and to give individuals better quality information and benefits that are more relevant to their needs. Benefits which are more affordable and which they can wholeheartedly trust.

The inaugural Liberty Employee Benefits Symposium brought together some of South Africa is leading thinkers and practitioners from the employee-benefits industry to share best practice and to chart a future for the sector.

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