Since it was founded in 1990, developing products that are easy to understand in an intricate and complex marketplace has been a key focus for South African financial services group, Fedgroup.
When founder John Field started the company three decades ago, his mission was to bring a fresh approach to a bureaucratic industry ridden by complexities that were becoming increasingly hard for customers to understand.
The journey started when Field acquired an existing small participation bond business. Within ten years, Fedgroup was known as the largest participation bond company in South Africa.
With markets and customer needs changing, Fedgroup soon realised that there was a growing opportunity to diversify its product offering to meet these changing needs.
Today, Fedgroup offers a full suite of services that include traditional products such as Pension and Provident Funds, a Life Company, Trusts, Commercial Property Finance, Asset Management, as well as other alternate investment products, such as their unique Impact Farming offering.
30 years of financial service product development knowledge has taught Fedgroup valuable lessons about designing products that deliver on their promise, and ultimately simplify the process for their clients.
1. Every product is only as strong as the people supporting it
Product development knowledge honed over more than three decades of experience, and an ingrained company culture of putting people first has led Fedgroup to deliver competitive products coupled with efficient service delivery.
According to Fiona Klose, Operations Manager of individual products at Fedgroup, “Fedgroup offers great products, but without our staff providing exceptional service, we would be one among many providers. Our personal touch and ability to know our clients sets us apart.”
2. Each product must have a compelling value proposition
Fedgroup Life products are built on the simple idea that valued staff members work better. The company’s Group Risk product is designed to help employers ensure that their most valuable asset – their staff – build towards an independent financial future.
“Our Life products are transparent and our easy-to-understand, standalone benefits allow our clients to only pay for what they need therefore reducing costs,” says Walter van der Merwe, CEO of Fedgroup Life.
“Major events such as injury, disability and death often occur when we least expect it. For this reason, Fedgroup products are unique, distinctive and offer compelling value to our clients by meeting their needs and budget. Importantly, we’ve worked hard to simplify the process and paperwork for clients around this.”
3. Every customer has a journey, and Fedgroup’s products are designed to match that
With a 30-year track-record of keeping their clients’ money safe, Fedgroup understands that investing is a partnership between company and client with the singular goal of growing clients’ wealth.
“We understand the value of every cent and that you don’t need millions to invest. Our ability to offer our clients more flexible and simple products has enabled them to reach their financial goals,” says Grant Field, CEO of Fedgroup and son of founder John Field.
Muhammad Jogee, Operations Manager of Fedgroup’s group products says that his job is to ensure that there is a synergy between the process and the product.
“Fedgroup’s Beneficiary Care department is tasked with looking after those who have been left behind as a result of unforeseen events. Not only have we taken care to ensure that minor children or guardians with limited financial knowledge can be well taken care of with our products, but we have also realised that we have an additional responsibility.”
Jogee says that all too often, Fedgroup has to take on a pseudo-guardian role, carefully considering beneficiaries’ full needs, and ensuring that the money they have been left is used to secure their financial future.
“The truth is that monthly payments alone cannot help beneficiaries achieve their true potential: they also need opportunity and guidance for their futures,” says Jogee.
For this reason, Fedgroup has developed a fuller range of value-added services that form part of their Beneficiary Care offering.
These include financial education and guidance, partner discounts, medical support, education support, and, perhaps most importantly, family wellness to help beneficiaries deal with the trauma of their loss, which is usually unexpected and a difficult milestone in their lives.
According to Reena Juta, Beneficiary Care team leader, “We understand that that minor children need to be raised with dignity and pride, and it is important to us that their experience with Fedgroup is a pleasant, supportive one.”
4. Adding value through innovation is critical
At the core of Fedgroup’s business lies the drive to innovate and find new ways to deliver real value to clients – sometimes well beyond financial returns.
Referred to in-house as modern-day engineers of the financial services industry, Fedgroup staff are constantly encouraged to find new ways to make more money for their clients.
“By employing technology to run our business, we have instant access to real-time data. This ensures we can make quick, informed decisions and develop products that truly talk to our customers and their needs – true to our ethos of putting people first,” concludes Field.