The outgoing Metropolitan Botswana Managing Director, Oupa Mothibatsela, has said one of his immediate goals and most significant priority was stabilizing the management of the company.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Mothibatsela said that high turnover of staff, particularly at a senior management or mission critical function level is usually symptomatic of a deeper underlying problem in an organisation.
“The most important innovation I have pursued and will do until my last day in a couple of weeks, is to develop a core of intermediaries who understand the various life stages and who can draw from our impressive bouquet of products to structure and articulate a solution for the client,” said Mothibatsela.
He pointed out that Metropolitan was typical of a company going through that sort of turmoil; morale was low, the credibility with clients, both corporate and individual was nonexistent, revenues and profits had stagnated and on a decline.
“The point I am making is that management tends to be unstable in that sort of environment and so I set myself the overarching target of stabilising management – the outcome being to have addressed all of these issues,” he says.
Mothibatsela talks very candidly about playing in a market where there is a very dominant player who has been operating in Botswana almost since independence, at least 25 years before Metropolitan entered the market.
“I am not ashamed to recognize, in professional deference, to a formidable competitor, but also, more importantly, because robust competition is ultimately good for the consumer,” says Mothibatsela.
He noted that he is, therefore, very pleased that in five years, Metropolitan Botswana has managed to come out from the shadow of the competitors and established one of the more recognisable and trusted brands in financial services.
He added that recognition can be achieved with a large marketing budget and that they did that with a very small but cleverly deployed budget.
Mothibatsela also spoke about challenges at Metropolitan regarding the issue of attracting and retaining the right intermediaries.
He says it is a problem that presents itself internationally but is perhaps more pronounced in Botswana because they have a relatively new life insurance history both at the enterprise and user level.
“It is a challenge we must continue to strive to overcome as it has long term benefits to insurance companies and the holders of our policies.”
The other challenge he pointed out is that of worsening household incomes. He said that Life insurance is a saving towards one’s future out of their disposable income, adding that if the income is not there or is declining, current needs supersede future plans. He observed that the tragedy in recent times is that they have had an effective decline in incomes coupled with an astronomical increase in debt.
“There is large scope for growth in the insurance market,” he says.
Mothibatsela says that Metropolitan is a life assurer and Momentum a manager of the Botsogo Medical Aid scheme, adding that a view has been taken not to roll out a merger at this stage. He said that there are no compelling synergies to be extracted to warrant the work and cost of attending to the shareholding issues.
“One must have their own high expectations of themselves and apply the appropriate level of pressure to succeed in the role. This is how we achieve the objectives of the organizations we serve or work in and this is how we grow as individuals,” says Mothibatsela.
He revealed that his last day should be March 28th, adding that on his return from Namibia, he supposes he will firm up on one of the few prospects he is mulling over.
“I am sure, like the previous five years, it will be something challenging,” says Mothibatsela.