By: Dawie de Villiers, CEO, Alexander Forbes
For me, the COVID-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time for South Africa, which was already staring a bleak economic future due to recession-induced slow economic growth, and the impact of the Moody’s downgrade.
The pandemic has upended economic and social life, and its impact on the world economy is a tipping point in global history, and that of Alexander Forbes. The speed and complexity of the pandemic meant we had to consider strategic and innovative responses of its impact on the company’s future sustainability, clients, and employees.
This is where the quality of leadership response became crucial, to ensure business continuity while safeguarding and protecting the health of both clients and employees. It required not only empathy, but importantly, as a leader, needed a clear sense of direction using an inclusive approach and showing and demonstrating the willingness to listen.
Through a consultative process, Alexander Forbes was able to respond to the national lockdown with speed and agility – ensuring that within a short space of time, as many as 98% of the company’s employees were working remotely from home. The transition to working from home has been seamless and ensured that the company remains open for business during the lockdown.
We are proud of the pivotal partnering role Alexander Forbes has and continues to play in the lives of clients, particularly those in distress and spearheading the relief afforded to them through a change in the legislation. Through our business continuity strategy, Alexander Forbes has effected, in the financial services industry, a market leading transition into the new era of operating a fully virtual company.
The decision to de-risk the company’s business model, simplify its structure and adopt an advice-led, client-centric strategy is gaining traction. Going forward, the focus on its core offering will further enhance shareholder value, while combining a market-leading integrated consulting framework with a capital-light strategy which has already allowed management to reshape a new Alexander Forbes.
After robustly stress-testing various scenarios for the business, driven by COVID-19 and the sovereign downgrade, I am now confident that the company will be able to navigate steadily through these turbulent economic times. And we fully intend to take the innovative lead in this market, based on superior solutions and sustainable financial well-being for our clients.
Our focus on our core offering will further enhance shareholder value, while combining our market-leading integrated consulting framework with a capital-light strategy has allowed us to reshape a new Alexander Forbes.