No more business as usual for SA employee-benefits

By Janice Roberts


South Africa’s employers and pension funds need to change their employee-benefits engagement models to align and recognize them as a critical ingredient to employee and member value propositions that guide financial planning to create financial freedom.

It is sad, but true, that too many South Africans would rather stay in the warm shower of deniability, when it comes to planning for retirement, as opposed to taking charge of their lives by spending some time in the cold shower of reality to better understand their financial status and plan for retirement; one of the country’s top insurance-industry leaders said yesterday.

Sandile Hlophe, Chief Executive of Group Arrangements at Liberty, recently told an audience at the Sandton Convention Centre that employee benefits players – retirement funds, advisers, trustees and fund managers – have to face up to a number of “inconvenient truths”.

One of these is that the one-size-fits-all model of offering employee benefits to large groups of employees was simply no longer appropriate. “We live in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous”, Hlophe said. “The old certainties no longer apply. Individuals want to know what value we’re offering them; they want to know that we understand their needs and are willing to walk the retirement planning journey with them. They want to know that the information and solutions we’re offering can be trusted.

“Today the most endangered species in South Africa is “trust”. But those of us in the employee-benefits space have a great opportunity to be the vanguard for restoring trust in corporate South Africa. We can restore trust by demonstrating that we are creating value, through employee benefits, for our customers and society.

“We can demonstrate that we are creating sustainable value by designing products that are appropriate for each customer’s circumstances. And we can do that by throwing out our traditional, inside-out way of dealing with customers – of telling them what we want them to hear – and replacing it with an outside-in approach, by asking customers about their employee benefit needs.”

Hlophe was the keynote speaker at the first Liberty Employee Benefits Symposium, which brought together leading local and international thinkers to debate the future of South Africa’s employee-benefits landscape.


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