Many of our policyholders don’t know how to budget and make their money work for them. So we invite them to educational seminars where we help them navigate the jargon-filled world of insurance policies and teach them the basics of budgeting.
We believe there is a better way for South Africans to become financially literate.
At Hollard, developing and distributing innovative insurance solutions is not our sole reason for existing. For us, it’s about also making a meaningful contribution to the communities in which we operate and we believe a big part of our purpose is to help catalyse real, positive and enduring change for the benefit of all of us.
In the insurance space, that translates into a social responsibility to ensure that the people who buy our products are clear about what they are designed to do, satisfied that they meet their needs and that they understand how to manage them effectively.
In other words, that they have all the knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions that are in the best interests of themselves and their families.
This is especially important in the emerging market, where consumers often recognise the value in protecting themselves from risk, and are keen to learn about the ways in which it can be done, but aren’t comfortable enough with the concepts or terminology to take things further.
Or worse that than, they go ahead and buy policies without fully understanding the terms (especially the implications of lapsed premium payments, which can be very costly) or end up with something that doesn’t really meet their needs after all.
In our view, customer education is the only way to address this, and we’ve been doing it informally for years, but it’s hard to establish trust when literacy and language are such enormous barriers. So, back in 2009, we used a grant from the Gates Foundation to develop a formal training programme aimed at overcoming them.
It’s been a great success. Using picture-based learning tools to demystify the lingo, and explain the basics about financial management and insurance in their home languages, our staff and community members began to facilitate sessions at Hollard branches, or locations nearby.
Today, they use the same methodology (with some tweaks to incorporate things they’ve learned along the way) to train an average of 2000 policyholders every month.
In the big picture it’s a small contribution, but it makes a real difference by empowering people to get answers to the questions that concern them and make informed choices for themselves.
We’ve loved the resoundingly positive feedback and it’s given us the impetus to broaden our focus on financial literacy to include: on-site workshops (most notably for 5000 contract workers at Medupi Power Station to prepare them for life once their contracts ended); a number of joint initiatives with our business partners; and in-house training for our own employees so they can upskill themselves then share their knowledge with their families, customers and communities.
Consumer financial education isn’t a quick fix, or a one-off, but it is a passion of ours and there’s lots more we’re planning to do. Along with the training sessions and workshops, we’ve also piloted an SMS info campaign, sponsored a radio series and we’re well down the road with development of an online game (Streetwise Challenge) but, here at Hollard, we believe there’s always a better way. So we’ll continue using an expanding mix of tools to deliver consistent messages through multiple channels until everyone has access to the vital financial info they need.