Q: Congratulations on your recent appointment as the new Managing Director of Liberty Life. How are you settling into the new role?
A: It was hard at the beginning as I sometimes developed cold feet. Some days were better than others, but as they say, the expert in anything was once a beginner. I have now settled in very well and sailing a stable ship.
Q: From progressing from a financial administration role (Head of Finance) to now being responsible for the overall running of the company, how do you plan to make this a seamless transition?
A: Being the Managing Director is a different ball game altogether. It entails, among others, setting the strategic direction of the business and ensuring its execution while interacting with and managing key stakeholders by living the brand and culture.
It is about developing the business in terms of channels and product line expansion. It further entails ensuring the adequacy of set governance structures and compliance with them while resourcing the organisation sufficiently to deliver business objectives, understanding and managing key risks and effective people management.
Though the transition is quite challenging, it was not too difficult for me as I have always seen myself as a corporate executive as opposed to a debit and credit type of an accountant. I think this mindset contributed significantly in making sure that I prepare myself for such responsibility well in time.
Q: What long-term plans do you have for Liberty Life?
A: Our vision is to improve people’s lives by making their financial freedom possible. We do this by being there to support them during their most profound human vulnerability. This we demonstrate through our tagline “In it with You,” which conveys a commitment that carries a notion on how Liberty lives out its purpose. We are committed and we care and assure all our stakeholders that “we are in it with you”. My plan is to deliver an experience rather than a product.
Q: What challenges do you anticipate to face as you execute your role and bring the company strategy to life?
A: I come in during a time when the economy is suppressed with the effects of both the pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war affecting customers and potential customers’ wallets directly. We have since seen a reduction in the buying power mainly due to high inflation rates, and this has affected us adversely as a business. All our customers and distributors are our partners on this life journey and we intend to remain “In it with Them” by continuously identifying and implementing solutions that ensure they remain covered during these trying times and beyond. Working for the customer is a key component of my journey.
Q: How have you been instrumental in leading implementation of Liberty’s tagline “In it with You?
A: Our intention is to earn the trust of the people we serve by making our humanity visible where it matters most. Our commitment to being “In it with You” means in it. We have skin in the game. We have 64 years of hands-on experience of this beautiful thing called life.
“With” means we are coming along for the ride and are committed to being there with you and for you even when it is hard, “You” means we have your interests at heart and will offer you the right advice and the most appropriate financial services for you.
This has proven not only to be a tagline to us because we have given it meaning in the humanity that comes with it in everything that we do. We recently improved our funeral claims payment turnaround time from 48 hours to only 4 hours. This demonstrates our commitment to the people we serve.
Q: With you being a predominantly South African insurer, how do you ensure that your presence is felt in the Botswana financial services market?
A: Liberty is a big brand that has been in existence since 1957 with a presence in 15 African countries. Liberty has grown from being a South African life insurer to a pan-African financial services company offering asset management, investments, insurance, and health products.
Being a resident across Africa, we offer the kind of service that comes from 64 years of experience, empathetic approach, sincerity, optimism and open mindedness as we walk this road with you. We have access to skill and knowledge across the continent that otherwise would not be available in one place under one roof.
Even though times may have changed and will continue to change, our purpose has remained our guiding light and our anchor. We improve people’s lives by making their financial freedom possible. Liberty Life Botswana is embedded in this ecosystem.
Q: What is your greatest achievement to-date since taking on this new role?
A: We made a conscious decision to take Liberty to the people this year which saw us accessing markets that we never did before, opening of the Francistown branch being the highlight of them all. We did not stop there but we went further to improve our funeral claims payment turnaround time from 48 hours to a mere 4 hours. I think this has the potential to be the new target and benchmark in the market.
It surely is my legacy and I believe that from this point on we can only move forward to further improve our efficiency for the benefit of our clients. In my world, running a business is all about solutioning for the customer and we cannot afford to be self-serving. As Jeanne Bliss once said, “Customers who love you will market for you more powerfully than you can possibly market yourself.”
Q: I invite you to say what you think we may not have covered for the benefit of Batswana.
A: Our intention is to earn the trust of the people we serve by making our humanity visible where it matters most to people. Liberty Life Botswana has experience in creating products that offer our clients financial freedom and peace of mind during unforeseen circumstances. To demonstrate our uniqueness, we are proud to say that we were the first to launch a living annuity product in Botswana and remain the only provider of this product. We are Liberty and are “In it with You!”