Sanlam banking on tech to boost post-Covid business recovery prospects

Sanlam Kenya CFO Kevin Mworia, Group Chairman Dr John Simba and Group CEO Dr Patrick Tumbo

Local non-bank financial services provider Sanlam Kenya has confirmed plans to leverage on information technology-based solutions to sustain its business growth as part of its post-Covid-19 recovery strategy.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm, has been on a sustained recovery path in the last two years but acknowledges that business slowdown arising from Covid-19 ripple effects may impact its 2020 performance.

Speaking at the firm’s 74th and first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM), Sanlam Kenya Chairman Dr John Simba said the firm’s recovery trajectory would take a hit from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted businesses across the world.

The firm, he however disclosed will be banking on its human resource base and robust information technology options to boost its distribution and customer service delivery platforms.

“Prudent business practise dictates that we train our sights on a post-Covid recovery phase. Process and product innovation leveraged on information technologies will remain a focal point for the business in 2020, dedicating efforts towards aggressively promoting existing mobile-based products to sustainably grow our client footprint through current partners while exploring emerging business leads,” Dr Simba said.

He added that: “The biggest opportunity in growing the Sanlam Kenya business lies in tapping technology to reach new market segments. Technological developments, such as Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT), are opening up fresh opportunities for the industry by enhancing efficiency, lowering operating costs and making it possible to roll out low-cost solutions. This digital transformation is opening up alternative distribution channels while revolutionizing the customer experience.”

Last year, Sanlam Kenya with interests in Life and General Insurance business segments, managed to bounce back to full-year profitability, posting a Kshs 550 million pre-tax profit. The firm posted improved results with a consolidated profit after tax position of Kes.114 million compared to a prior year’s loss of Kshs 1.97 billion. Total revenues from gross written premium and investment income improved by a remarkable 50% compared to the previous year, while total outflows from policyholder benefits and expenses increased by 4%. Gross written premium improved by 10% as a result of significant growth in the short-term insurance business revenues.

This year, Dr Simba who was flanked by the firm’s Group CEO Dr Patrick Tumbo reiterated that the firm would maintain a strategic focus on ongoing efforts to strengthen engagements with business partners while diversifying its insurance solutions to customers.

On his part, Dr Tumbo noted that Sanlam Kenya, being in the service business has also not been spared by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re navigating through the new normal by making the necessary changes in the way we operate to safeguard the lives of our staff and other stakeholders whilst building and enhancing trust with our customers and business partners.” Dr. Tumbo said.

He added that “While the staff are still learning new ways of doing things differently to what they’ve been used to, Sanlam Kenya has implemented a few tactical changes such as an improved robust operating ICT system and a culture change to the quick adoption to the “new normal” with a more personalized customer engagement ensuring that timely and relevant feedback is provided to our customers”.

To sustainably grow shareholder value, Dr Tumbo disclosed that the firm would continue innovating on the best way to increase its footprint, with the use of technology at the top of the list in an effort to reach underserved markets.

“Some of the strategic initiatives and partnerships that we invested in for our General and Life business lines during 2019, which we intend to solidify this year, are expected to begin bearing fruit into the future. For instance, our general insurance business has leveraged on Sanlam Group’s proven competencies in running profitable medial insurance books across Africa. This was in addition to restructuring reinsurance agreements to enhance capacity while improving underwriting results of the medical book.” Dr Tumbo assured.

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