Oaktree Intermediaries MD, Gordon McKean.
2020, whilst being a lot more punishing to many other industries, in terms of a drop in revenue, left us as a Reinsurance broker (relatively) unscathed, in fact, our top line grew!
Don’t get me wrong – we had clients that were hit hard because of the lines of business that they trade in, and that certainly had a knock-on effect to us, but it was a year of survival of the fittest and a year that gave mass uncertainty to all. Some people say that if you made it through 2020, then your business is resilient, and has the “legs” to get you through just about anything.
I believe that, now more than ever, the Insurance Industry needs to stick together (especially at times like this) and particularly, when it comes to the discussion around the latest Business Interruption debacle, and whether or not the intention of these policies was in fact ever made with the intention to pay claims resulting from a global pandemic? Furthermore, I believe that businesses need to take the approach of holding on to what they have, and continue to maintain their relevance and be constantly adding value, in an attempt to retain their client bases. That old phrase “what brought you here – won’t necessarily take you there” is more relevant now, more than ever before.
Personally, here at Oak Tree Intermediaries, our focus for 2021 is on introspection, so effectively – what we are ensuring, is that internally, we have operational excellence to service our clients even better than we have in the past. Service and going the extra mile has always been a big thing for us with our clients, and we have brought on new resources, with specific aim of servicing clients in mind, and helping grow our top line. Long terms relationships are also crucial in our business, so by ensuring our relevance and making our clients life easier, should help us sustain this.
This pandemic has made us all not take things for granted, so we intend turning our back office team into a well-oiled machine! We are also going to spend money on beefing up our marketing capabilities, because (like everyone else in the world) we want to grow!
Another thing the pandemic has done, is, it has forced us to think outside of the box in terms of how we market ourselves and our businesses. Companies need to reinvent themselves and find ways to innovate and get their brand and product out there. Is a Teams meeting really enough? We all know that nothing is better than face-to-face contact and interaction in the quest to build relationships, however with this new strain of Covid-19 hitting South Africa, it is concerning that the number of deaths rose above 800 in the middle of January with more than 18,000 new infections per day. People need to remain responsible, and follow protocols to reduce the infection rate, and all of this puts a dampener on that physical presence in one’s marketing efforts. Enter Teams, Zoom and Skype, and don’t forget a good old phone call to lift the spirits!
Now more than ever, we need to ensure stakeholder value through showing resilience for our businesses to carry on and continually find ways to build and grow throughout these hard times we find ourselves in, making sure that we adequately build capital, to ensure we have (more than adequate) reserves, to take us through the now and possibly even – the later. We still have some hard times ahead, but remaining positive and looking for that light at the end of the tunnel, as well as remaining relevant and value-adding, will see us through this.
Onwards and upwards, bring on 2021, and best wishes to all!