THE FULCRUM GROUP Q&A:
WITH rianet whitehead
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, and how you became a journalist specialising in insurance.
A: I am an entrepreneur by heart… but only learnt this about myself quite late in life. I love the path I am on and are just extremely grateful for my journey and how things worked out for me. I am also a wife – to the same man for 26 years, a passionate mother of three boys and a (co-)business owner who loves the industry I ended up in. My career is not one I chose, but I am not entirely unhappy about the fact that it was clearly my destination… I embraced every step and know that it was meant to be… and the fact that I can carry on with my late dad’s legacy, is definitely the best part of it all.
Q: Similarly, please give us the rundown on your title. What do you cover, who is your audience, how can they access your content and why should they consume it?
A: FAnews focuses on short term, life, healthcare, investments, employee benefits, technology, compliance, ethics, regulatory issues and anything else relevant to the insurance and financial services industries. We print (and upload) six magazine editions per year, and we send out newsletters on industry issues from Monday to Thursday every week. We offer CPD hours for the industry at no cost to our readers and we currently have 17 700 CPD users registered on our system. These users can also make use of the WhatsApp platform to do their CPD hours on. Another super exciting initiative linked to FAnews is The Insurance Apprentice, which is basically a competition for U35s working in the short-term insurance industry. More detail on this is available on www.TheInsuranceApprentice.co.za.
Q: Covid-19 knocked the insurance industry hard in 2020 – but it was not the only big thing to happen. What were the biggest impacts you observed, locally and globally?
A: The list is long, but one standout for me is the dive in company culture and the way people are in one way completely happy not to go back to the office full time ever again. It’s a bit of a shock to my system and I feel we are losing a lot. Yes, it’s great to not spend hours in traffic anymore and it’s great that many people don’t have to commute constantly anymore, but is there a middle way? What does the future hold for company culture, teamwork, bumping into colleagues you have not seen for a while, team building events, conferences… the list goes on.
Q: What are the most exciting development – business, technological, regulatory, product or otherwise – that you see happening in insurance in 2021?
A: There’s definitely some innovation in the product space, and the use of technology has become even more prevalent. What happened has definitely opened up channels and ideas and I do believe this is only the start of some decent innovative products that will still see the light
Q: Every industry has its movers and shakers, disruptors and game-changers. Who or what do you think are the “people/developments” to watch in the South African insurance industry?
A: I am biased, but I suppose it’s how we sometimes role… Mutoda Mahamba is one of the guys who went through The Insurance Apprentice programme quite a few years ago and I just have a feeling that we will see his name more going forward. He is a solid entrepreneur and InsurTech guru and he has some amazing plans up his sleeve. Just file his name and thank me later.
Q: What do you think are the best things about the insurance industry, and what could be done better?
A: “We keep the wheels of the economy going.” No world can exist without insurance… it’s a reality. What we can change is the perception and the belief people have that it’s grudge purchase… not sure how we can change it, but let’s take on the challenge. I think a big part of this lies in how we handle claims, so yes… it’s a starting point at least.
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