The Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Group Chairman, Batsho Dambe-Groth, says 2012 promises to be a challenging year, with the possible looming recession, and says that for financial success and survival, there is need for a radical paradigm shift in “our way of thinking and operating” – conservative, but innovative.
Speaking at the first BIHL stakeholder event for 2012, Dambe-Groth observed that ┬ácompanies are experiencing similar business challenges, such as a constantly changing business environment, increasing global competition, competition for raw materials, technological advancements, environmental sustainability demands, increased customer satisfaction and more demanding stakeholders. She said in times of reduced profits or financial challenges, the first area of focus to reduce costs is usually the people without due regard as to whether the ┬áproblems are actually being caused by the technology, systems and processes or even the organizational strategy itself.
“You will not be getting a preview of our financial performance because, as you know, it is our closed period and we are finalising our year end results,” she said.
Dambe-Groth stated that BIHL has been involved in a strategy to become a broader based financial services business in order to diversify the revenue streams of the company. According to the Board Chairman, as a complex business, it was necessary for BIHL to identify a candidate with a very sound understanding of the Group, especially the complex financial and operations environment of the three subsidiaries. ┬á
She further stated that the primary concern as the custodians of investments and wealth of large institutions, pension funds and personal investors amounting to P18.5 billion, was to ensure they identified the best candidate for the position of BIHL Chief Executive Officer.
“The financial services sector is historically very conservative. However, we need to consider thought-out, calculated risks.┬á All our businesses are different. The Board’s job is to help evaluate and make sure there is no risk to the sustainability of the company and ensure continued profitability,” she explained.
BIHL Chief Executive Officer, Gaffar Hassam, said the recent newly-introduced Unit Trust and Short Term Insurance business units were only natural progressions in providing the clients with a full service offering. He stated that meeting the needs of the customers is their top priority.┬á
“We must anticipate their needs quickly, provide exceptional service and ensure our products add value to them,” he said.
Hassam stated that the business history, as a local company with an international outlook, has given them the agility that is needed for a financial services company. He echoed Dambe-Groth’s words that there are many challenging business environments in which companies are currently operating. ┬áHe further said that margins are tight, conditions are difficult and many businesses are struggling to survive.
┬áBoard member of Sanlam Group, Patrice Motsepe, was expected to be at the event but there was an overlap in his diary and he did not make it.
However, Johan van Zyl, Chief Executive Officer of the Sanlam Group, and┬áDesmond Smith, Chairman of the Sanlam Board, managed to attend the event.