Profile: Schalk Malan, CEO, BrightRock
Posted on 16 Aug, 22 by BrightRock
What prompted your move into the insurance industry and how have you found it thus far?
When I look at my entrepreneurial journey, coming together with my partners wanting to change an industry was challenging. But, looking back, if you asked me if it was something I would do all over again, yes. It was liberating and exhilarating. You challenge yourself every day and develop as an individual and as a group of people.
I feel privileged to have been offered the opportunity by our shareholders and the industry. I am humbled to have built and seen a business flourish and come to a place where we have two million lives to protect and take care of. I appreciate what we’ve built and what we’ve got.
What are some of the biggest lessons have you learnt about the insurance industry?
The first thing I would have to say about the insurance industry is that it is a very sophisticated, developed and complicated industry. Nevertheless, the South African life insurance and financial services industries are world-class. I have had the privilege to travel to and see other markets and we stand out in terms of
innovation and the service we offer clients.
For any entrepreneur who wants to follow a similar journey, you have to make sure that you have a very experienced team with you. A team that believes in the vision, purpose, what you stand for and what you want to achieve. You can’t do it on your own. You need diverse skillsets and people that are specialised in what they do.
The second lesson is that life insurance is a very capitalintensive business that requires scale to be successful, and this is very important to appreciate at the start. In the past 11 years, BrightRock has achieved scale and has a fantastic platform that enables continuous growth.
What was one of/your first investment(s) – and do you still have it?
My first investment and the one that probably served me the best is education. I spent a lot of time on that, which is one of our most valuable resources. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to study and become an actuary. It served me exceptionally well over time and it is something that I hope people take to heart – you have got to have the right education. Education is also not always formal.
Education could be working with the best for a number of years, which was key to my development – to have the opportunity to learn from the best. Learn and invest in yourself, gather skills to either play a role in an organisation’s achievements or be able to do it on your own one day.
What life insurance megatrends are you currently following closely?
I recently saw a study from one of our reinsurers in the US about a big drive around the world on customisation, meeting clients’ needs and how technology is enabling that. There is a push to create insurance offerings that try to cut out the intermediary or adviser and go to clients directly, especially on the short-term insurance side.
Though there is a place for that, I see the trend of consumers still looking for support from intermediaries and proper advice. They will still be looking for ease of doing business, wanting to play an active role in understanding their insurance needs and having solutions that meet those specific needs. They also want technology that enables that advice process, that makes it easier to onboard a client and interact with them.
Where I see technology playing an increasingly active role is in areas such as artificial intelligence, where client interaction will become smarter over time. Another trend is the push around big data and bringing together the understanding of a client’s holistic risk profile when it comes to buying insurance cover and then, over time, understanding how the client’s needs evolve. There are various sources to pick that up from, such as a client buying a new house and having products that can match that new need. At BrightRock, we believe we can drive that trend. To see to it that our products can match our clients’ needs on day one and as they change over time.
This article was originally published on page 4 in the May 2022 edition of MoneyMarketing. Click here to read the original version.
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