“Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.” – Richard Branson
Complicated by regulations, legalities and traditional models, the financial services sector is well known for being a difficult nut to crack.
It takes a certain level of trust to invest one’s hard-earned money with a company – trust that promises to not grow one’s wealth and plan for a financially stable future.
2020 undoubtedly came as a shock to the world’s population. On one hand, people had to cope with the imminent threat to their and their loved ones’ health brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, they were faced with the devastating financial implications on the country’s already struggling economy, as a result of our national lockdown measures and mandatory social distancing.
This lethal combination brought business to a standstill for a large portion of the year.
Sadly, as a result, many businesses have had to reduce their workforce, adapt to working remotely and, in some cases, even close their doors.
But, as Fedgroup celebrates its 30th birthday this year, the company has taken the time to reflect on lessons learnt over the past three decades, which saw an incredible change to society at large.
From the dawn of democracy in SA to the advent of digitisation that would change the size and shape of financial services across the sector, Fedgroup has seen a lot.
While a one-in-a-hundred-year event is as new to Fedgroup as it is to the rest of the world, the business’ history holds some valuable lessons for companies both large and small.
1. ‘No’ is not an answer – always look for ways to make things happen
One of the biggest hurdles facing both clients and financial services providers is the ever-changing regulatory environment in which everyone must operate.
When Fedgroup founder and current chairman John Field started the company in 1990, authorities told him that, in no uncertain terms, his idea of forming a privately owned financial services institution was not possible.
There was simply no precedent at that time for a privately-owned company to have a license to provide financial services.
Having a keen understanding of business and always keeping the bigger picture in mind, John’s fighting spirit took over, and he sold 65% of his business to Fedbond while holding on to the remaining 35%. When Fedsure went under a few years later, John had pre-emptive rights to buy the healthy part of the business.
Today, this is Fedgroup and the company has grown from strength to strength, now employing a team of over 150 Fedgroup employees.
2. Treating clients fairly sometimes means revising conventional processes and wisdom
“My mother used to tell me that, when push comes to shove, you always know who to turn to. That being a family isn’t a social construct, but an instinct.” – Jodi Picoult
One of Fedgroup’s biggest distinguishing factors is the way in which Fedgroup conducts business. This philosophy is their ability to put people before profit.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought new challenges to Fedgroup’s claims assessment, including a deeper effort to understand what it means to treat customers fairly amidst a global pandemic.
For example, many medical insurance claims require hospitals to complete medical forms for insurers to consider.
However, in the current crisis hospitals are rightly devoting their time and resources to the fight against COVID-19 which means insurance medical processes like completing forms or supply copies of medical records are taking a backseat.
Speaking on this, Heather Patton, Chairperson of Fedgroup’s claims committee, said: “We realised that treating customers fairly during a pandemic of this nature meant giving claimant’s the benefit of the doubt wherever possible and not exposing them to travel or community interaction during the lockdown, unless absolutely necessary.”
3. Always find new ways to do things more efficiently and get things done
The ability to innovate is any company’s biggest asset – especially if it is the foundation for the company’s road map and principles.
Through innovation, a business can continue to introduce new and exciting products to the market by taking advantage of opportunities that may come their way and being both agile and proactive in its approach.
“Through the successful employment of technology to help create a single platform from where we manage all our clients and products, we were able to bring together all the different pockets of innovation as well as areas of excellence in our business and work as one united team. This enabled us to have greater visibility into what customers want while providing metrics on the efficiency of our employees,” said Grant Field, CEO of Fedgroup.
According to Muhammed Jogee, Operations Manager for Group Products at Fedgroup, the company constantly enhances their systems, and refines their processes.
“This not only helps bring down the workload, but it also means that service turn-around times are decreased from seven working days to two or three working days,” Jogee said.
This article was published in partnership with Fedgroup.