Looking forward through the lens of four decades of history


Hollard is delighted that they will be celebrating their 40th anniversary—especially in such an era of elation and anticipation—the year 2020. Since its inception, the organisation has kept customer-centricity, innovation and partnership at the core of what they do. As they turn 40, they will be commemorating this heritage through various exciting initiatives which will be unveiled during the course of the year.

Their 40th anniversary is a time for the company to reflect, gain perspective and allows them the opportunity to look forward by looking backwards, through the lens that four decades of experience has granted them.

The Hollard Group is a proudly South African company and the country’s largest privately-owned insurance group, with a presence in Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho, Botswana, Ghana, Indonesia, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe and the UK. Tokio Marine, the largest insurance group in Japan and amongst the largest in the world, is a 22.5% shareholder in Hollard South Africa.

CEO of Hollard Partner Solutions, Angela Mhlanga, says Hollard’s purpose is to enable more people to create and secure a better future. “This is the reason we get out of bed in the morning, why we do what we do.”

The organisation is structured in four business units, focusing on their areas of excellence, which are Hollard Insure, a short-term business dedicated to corporate and commercial lines, backed by personal lines; Hollard Life focuses on mass-market financial solutions; Hollard International exports our capabilities across Africa and South-east Asia, as well as Hollard Partner Solutions which focuses on partnering with businesses to benefit partners, their customers and Hollard.

“An important element of Hollard’s sustained growth has been our partnership philosophy, that since inception, has focused on identifying like-minded partners; understanding respective strengths and then driving long-term value through optimised structures to ensure mutual success,” explains Mhlanga. The Partner Solutions business is wholly dedicated to partnerships.

“Our vision is to become the favourite insurance solutions partner and we will achieve this by focusing on what matters to our partners and customers; ensuring that our culture supports the careers and ambitions of our people and building agile operations that enable us to respond to the needs of our partners,” this inspiring leader shares with us.

Leaders of the pack

The Hollard model works because they have a win-win approach: all partnerships are uniquely structured according to the contribution that each respective consort is best suited to make. Hollard’s non-negotiable, however, is that each party that is involved in an alliance (partners, customers and the company itself) must benefit.

“Over time, we have successfully entered into over 100 partnerships and alliances with financial institutions, retailers and various other industries with affinity groups, which serve selected target markets. This is how we have created access to financial services for customers, who might otherwise not have had that access.”

Purpose and culture are what sets Hollard apart from their competitors. “We are always inclusive in how we do business; from our product offering, which ranges from the simplest funeral product to complex marine products. And our win-win-win approach to partnerships is how we achieve exceptional, sustainable and inclusive growth.”

The elements of strategy

In a tough economic environment, there are a number of challenges that impact the business, such as premium affordability and increased customer churn. To navigate the environment it’s important to double down on the elements of the strategy which remain consistent, such as developing customer-centric offerings that add value to customers, irrespective of the economic situation.

Mhlanga says that Hollard has remained true to their aspiration to partner for both capability and distribution. “We believe that this competency will become even more relevant as new offerings, brands and even technologies fuel the ever-changing customer needs. Our ability to partner across the insurance value chain positions us well to be agile in the ever-changing environment.”

Partnerships enable Hollard to become a catalyst for positive and enduring change in South Africa. “An example of how we have done this is Harambee, a youth employment accelerator, which we co-founded in 2011 to help connect unemployed matriculants from disadvantaged areas, with sustainable employment opportunities.”

A platform to perform

With the 4th Industrial Revolution in full swing, the cost-enabling and automation nature of technology has prompted the company to think about how they optimise both their business model and distribution channels, for instance, enhancing their self-service capability, robotics process automation (RPA) and introducing digital channels.

Rich and bespoke customer experiences are now a prerequisite to the success of business applications.

This has mandated a more customer-centric design for their business applications (they have incorporated user feedback and design into all application development processes such as design thinking practices in their software development cycles).

“Data and analytics platforms can be easily leveraged to produce rich and valuable insight. We are using this insight in all areas of our business to provide better value for customers and partners (customer experience design and fraud detection). Digital platforms encourage high interaction between consumers, producers and intermediaries and accelerate the evolution of these ecosystems, which has triggered our thinking on how we add value in this ecosystem (developing a platform that enables stakeholders).

Cloud and mobility have eliminated the high costs barrier associated with technology. This is exhibited by the increase in competition from InsureTechs. “Innovation, entrepreneurship and agility are key to our success and constantly embedded in all that we do,” adds Mhlanga.

Social impact

At Hollard, they have always believed that insurance is fundamentally an instrument for social good and this is embedded in the business they conduct. Their current “Better Futures” campaign demonstrates how, at the company’s core business and various initiatives, they improve lives and uplift communities.

They have a unique supplier development programme that helps black entrepreneurs, including former employees, who have started their own businesses within the greater Hollard ecosystem. The programme provides these entrepreneurs with a medium-term supplier contract and supports them with management advice and finance, as well as exposure to Hollard’s networks.

“Our vision is to become the favourite insurance solutions partner. We are seen as thought leaders, our goal is to be the partner of choice in the market and grow from there,” Mhlanga concludes. 

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