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WITH Lizelle Van Der Merwe

-Chief Executive Officer (Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa)

“Can you afford rising compliance costs in your business? Do you believe government and regulators understand your business? If not, appoint the FIA to represent your FSP”.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, and how came to your current position in insurance.  

A: I joined the industry in 1996 and have never looked back. I have knowledge and expertise in various fields including Strategic Leadership; Stakeholder Relations Management; Communication Management; Corporate Governance, Budget Management and Risk Management. I studied and worked simultaneously and graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Management Practice in 2018. I currently hold the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa – an organisation that represents over 1 700 intermediary businesses (these include small to international-sized businesses). I have always been passionate about the role of intermediaries and was approached by the then CEO – Justus van Pletzen to consider applying for the CEO role. Like most things in life, I didn’t quite understand what I was signing up for but here I am, almost 6 years later devoted to intermediaries and the industry at large.

Q: To which kinds of people should the insurance industry be offering career opportunities? How do you see your institute helping to make this happen?

A: The greatest thing about the insurance industry is we cater for all kinds of professional skills, as well as young entrants who are seeking opportunities to make a difference. We need actuaries, marketing professionals, sales agents, consultants, advisors, administrators, and chartered accountants, we need them all. The FIA positions intermediary businesses as the gateway for entrepreneurship in the sector and as readers will understand, we need more businesses to create more jobs and opportunities in the sector. We of course must do a lot more to make our profession a more attractive career choice to attract more talent to our industry.

Q: If you had to make an elevator pitch to someone on why they should belong the FIA, what would you say to them before the lift doors open and they’re gone forever?

A: Can you afford rising compliance costs in your business? Do you believe government and regulators understand your business? If not, appoint the FIA to represent your FSP.

Whilst we offer a range of benefits (which includes a bespoke Professional Indemnity product and complimentary CPD training), the primary objective of membership is to ensure policymakers and regulators understand intermediary businesses in order to regulate them effectively. Without the FIA, FSPs would have lost millions of rands of income due to increased compliance costs and restrictions on their services to clients and insurers.

Q: What innovative product or service have you seen in the insurance industry that inspires you?

A: Insurance can be complex but when it is not, keep it simple. Ctrl is an FIA member – they have built a robo-advice and human advice insurance platform that makes insurance accessible, easy and transparent (the client feels in control). This platform is not for complex risks and products, for that you will need a human advisor.

Q: Name one person in the insurance industry who inspires you and tell us why.

A: I am inspired by so many different people in the industry however, looking back over the last 4 years, I would say Peter Olyott, CEO of Indwe Risk Services has played an instrumental role in my growth and development as a leader in the industry. He was (and still is) always accessible, he is willing to share his knowledge and experience with anyone who is willing to learn. Peter has guided me through very tough challenges at the FIA and has played an instrumental role in guiding the strategy of the FIA.

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