We share a business, socio-economic and ecological landscape with a range of stakeholders in South Africa and in the markets where we have investments. Stakeholders are any group or individual who can affect, or can be affected by, the achievement of our strategic objectives. We recognise the importance of engaging with these stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations, and incorporate their relevant concerns into our strategy. We try to establish common ground between what we, as a business, and our stakeholders want to achieve, and then we monitor our progress on these objectives.
Relationships are critical for us to be able to create value. Therefore, our approach to stakeholder engagement aims to build and maintain quality business relationships with all material stakeholders. Engagement takes place through various means and channels: both formal and informal, as well as scheduled and ad hoc.
Furthermore, our risk management approach includes creating and protecting value for stakeholders. This entails, for example, doing a survey across the business and with key stakeholders to identify future key risks. We also involve stakeholders in initiatives such as the 2016 scenario development process. In this process, we selected stakeholder participants to be diverse and represent a range of insights relevant to our contexts, territories and market spaces. We also included external experts and young millennials as conversation catalysts and to represent broader perspectives.
During many years of formal and informal engagement, we have structured our engagement according to eight main stakeholder groupings:
The personal or commercial policyholders who are served through an intermediated, affinity or direct general insurance model. Our mechanisms for interacting with clients range from online and self-service, to call centres, face-to-face interactions, branches and drive-in assessment centres. Feedback from clients is critical to continue improving our product and service offering. We have detailed, transparent and robust complaints and claims handling policies, which support the fair treatment of clients.
The people who and institutions that invest their money in our business a family uses debt consolidation to keep their home. Sanlam is our biggest shareholder. We engage with them during financial results presentations and at the annual general meeting. Their main interest is our ability to deliver sustainable dividends.
For the past 99 years, people have been at the heart of our business and its success. Our strategic focus on “the right people” ensures that we have the right people in the right positions to deliver on our chosen strategies. Our achievements include the creation of a diverse employee complement that is suited to the contexts in which we do business, and progress towards meeting our transformation targets. We participated in the Top Employer Certification Programme and were certified as a Top Employer for 2017. Attracting and securing new talent remains a challenge for us and the insurance sector as a whole.
Suppliers and business partners
Our suppliers form an integral part of the claims management process and encompass functional elements which include claims assessment, contact centres, drive-in centres, a variety of technical specialists, repairers and the internal arbitrator. These suppliers have to be able to service claims reliably and cost-effectively as it enables us to improve pricing and refine our product offering, which ultimately attracts and retains policyholders.
Our South African intermediated business model relies on a network of intermediaries and underwriting managing agents (UMAs) and forms the core of the Santam Commercial and Personal business unit. Santam Specialist partners with UMAs and affinity partners as front office and claims administration service providers. We have a network of over 2 700 intermediaries. They benefit from supplier development initiatives, such as the Black Broker Development programme and our investment in the ASISA Edge Growth fund, to create access to loan funding for new and small BBBEE suppliers in the sector.
Long-term sustainability is inextricably linked to compliance with all applicable regulations, and maintaining a productive relationship with regulators that grant operating licences to the group’s businesses. These regulators include, for example, the Financial Services Board (FSB), which recently granted approval for us to launch a formal internal model approval process in preparation for the risk-based solvency assessment and management (SAM) regulatory regime that will soon be implemented in South Africa.
Our leadership is represented at national level on several industry bodies, including the South African Insurance Association, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance, the Black Management Forum, and Business Unity South Africa. Through these bodies, we are able to respond as an industry to global and local social, political and regulatory changes.
Through our relationship with Sanlam, we are represented in engagements with government and inter-ministerial teams to develop solutions for South African job creation, economic stability and growth. We have, for example, committed R2 million to the new South African SME fund. We remain mindful of the challenges South Africa faces which require strong partnerships to meet the sustainable development goals and make the National Development Plan (NDP) a reality. We have heeded the call to improve the resilience of communities and continue to secure significant successes with our holistic, shared risk management partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, including business, land owners and local government. Our Partnerships for Risk and Resilience, previously known as Business-Adopt-a-Municipality (BAAM), continues to gain momentum. Santam was recognised as the Best Corporate Partner in November 2016 by The South African Local Government Association(SALGA).
Investing in communities makes them more resilient and self-sufficient over the longer term. This is good for business and has a positive impact on the economy. Our CSI strategy is directed primarily at building resilience in communities in targeted high-risk municipalities such as Ehlanzeni, Sarah Baartman and Sedibeng. We are also committed to consumer financial education and increasing access to insurance for emerging and uninsured communities and individuals.