A Conversation with Riaan van Dyk, CEO of Sanlam Fintech
In a recent interview, Tony sat down with Riaan van Dyk, the newly appointed CEO of Sanlam Fintech, to discuss the establishment of Sanlam’s new fintech cluster and its ambitious goals for transforming the financial landscape in Africa.
Sanlam’s Evolution: From 1.0 to Fintech
Riaan began by explaining the evolution of Sanlam, outlining the transition from Sanlam 1.0, the traditional 105-year-old intermediated business to the digitised version of this business, Sanlam 2.0. The aim is to future-proof the existing business while building the future model, Sanlam 3.0 – a large non-intermediated digital platform that opens up new markets and revenue streams in South Africa and beyond.
The creation of Sanlam Fintech as a separate cluster within the Sanlam group was a strategic decision to ensure a clear focus on digital transformation. Riaan emphasised the importance of having a dedicated space with the mandate, funding, and flexibility to think radically differently. This approach allows Sanlam Fintech to simultaneously build the future business model and future-proof the traditional business.
Agile Transformation and Digital Assets
Riaan highlighted the importance of agility in creating an environment conducive to innovation. He applauded the board’s decision to create Sanlam Fintech as a separate cluster, granting the team the license to do things differently. The cluster brings together various digital assets, including Sanlam Digisure (a life insurance insurtech), Jasure (now Santam Switch, a short-term insurance insurtech), Miway Blink (a digital initiative of Miway), EasyEquities (an associate business), a payments business called MultiData, Sanlam Credit Solutions and Sanlam Personal Loans.
The goal is to consolidate these digital assets and build a future business model that is non-intermediated, completely digital, and aligned with changing client preferences.
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Democratising Financial Advice
Tony delved into the aspect of behavioural change, particularly in the context of attracting clients through loans. Riaan emphasised the need to democratise trusted financial advice, making it accessible to all. He argued that providing unconditional access to financial guidance for clients, especially in entry-level markets, is essential for true inclusion. The vision is to offer free, unconditional financial advice to create greater financial confidence and, subsequently, financial inclusion.
Behavioural Change and Client-Centric Approach
Riaan acknowledged the challenge of changing client behaviour and stressed the importance of understanding clients’ needs. He emphasised the significance of testing ideas, iterating quickly, and creating products based on real-time feedback. This approach aims to align financial products and services with evolving client behaviours and preferences.
Sanlam Fintech’s Focus on South Africa and Africa
While Sanlam Fintech’s immediate focus is on South Africa, Riaan acknowledged the critical importance of scale in the fintech business, indicating future plans to expand across Africa. He highlighted two key opportunities for success in Africa: collaboration with the Sanlam Allianz business for shared learnings and an exclusive partnership with MTN for financial services. The latter partnership, leveraging MTN’s extensive client engagement, provides a competitive advantage in terms of scale and data-driven insights.
The Future of Payments in Fintech
In the concluding segment, Riaan shared his excitement about the global innovations in payments. He recognised the pivotal role of payments in the fintech landscape and hinted at Sanlam’s potential to deliver exciting developments in digital banking and payments. Riaan expressed confidence in leveraging existing partnerships, such as the one with TymeBank, to make a significant impact on clients’ lives through improved payment systems.
In essence, the conversation with Riaan sheds light on Sanlam Fintech’s strategic approach to digital transformation, its commitment to democratising financial advice, and its vision for creating inclusive financial ecosystems in South Africa and across the African continent.
The emphasis on agility, client-centricity, and partnerships positions Sanlam Fintech as a key player in reshaping the future of finance in the region.