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Keeping the Momentum

01 February 2007 FAnews

Momentum is one of the South African insurance giants. FAnews takes a closer look at this familiar, well-known brand many consumers have come to know and trust.

Momentum was founded in 1966 when AVBOB formed a life assurance company named "Afrikaanse Verbond Lewensversekering Genootskap Beperk" (AVL). In 1973, the latter acquired Momentum Assurance Corp and took the name Momentum Life Assurers Limited. Rembrandt and Volkskas Bank were major shareholders.

Expansion

Momentum Life expanded its interests with the takeover in 1976 of Yorkshire General Assurance Co, and of Allianz Life and Rand assurance Co in 1987. In 1989 it took over Lifegro Assurance. In April 1998, RMBH and Anglo American decide to merge their financial services interests. FirstRand, the new holding company, became the largest financial services listed company. The result was the merger of Southern Life and Momentum Life and the listing of FirstRand on the JSE. In 2005, Momentum bought Sage Group Limited for R634 million and African Life Health for R175 million.

Milestones

The Southern Life merger was probably the catalyst that transformed Momentum from a small life office to what it is today, one of the top life assurance companies in South Africa. It not only changed the scope of the business but also set the benchmark for future mergers and acquisitions within the Momentum Group. The lessons learnt from the Southern merger came in handy with the successful integration of Sage Group Limited (Sage) into the Momentum Group. Momentum converted 260,000 Sage policies to the Momentum IT platform within a 100-day time frame - something that was often said (to their faces) couldn't be done!

Company philosophy

A spirit of success is at the centre of everything that Momentum does. The company strives to create an environment where people with a positive attitude can make a success of life. As their pay off line so aptly says, "we believe in people who believe in themselves".

The company has four critical focus areas - a relentless focus on intermediaries; service excellence; innovation; and an inspiring brand underpinning everything else.

Opportunities and challenges

There are a lot of challenges facing Momentum as an industry leader today. The increased volatility of investment markets coupled with the correlation between these markets and profitability are all factors that can impact on the company's performance. Another important factor is increased consumerism that will continue to place pressure on the financial services industry. Momentum is confident that it will continue to give clients value for money through, amongst other strategies, revised fee structures and innovative offerings such as Save Thru Spend.

Cultural values

Momentum has a set of values that is core to the business, called the bull's eye. At is essence is the Spirit of Success and values such as innovation, belief in the potential of each individual, challenging the norm and simplicity. Momentum, as a team of people, has a strong bias for action, do not take themselves too seriously and believe in being good corporate citizens.

Good corporate citizen

Through the Momentum Fund, the company have donated more than R7million to worthwhile organisations over the past financial year. All Momentum's CSI activities centre on the following two areas - people with disabilities and community HIV/Aids initiatives.

Quick Polls

QUESTION

Each year ordinary consumers and their financial and wealth advisers flock to dozens of asset manager ‘outlook’ presentations to find out about economic and investment trends, and the next ‘hot’ company. What do you want asset managers to share during these events?

ANSWER

Asset allocation strategies
Big picture investment themes and how to position portfolios for them
Investment methodologies and historic fund yields
Share tips by the score
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