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THE FULCRUM GROUP Q&A:
WITH Rianet Whitehead

- FAnews Co-Owner and Editor & The Insurance Apprentice Creator

“I have always believed that things will work out the way it’s supposed to work out”. 

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, and your career path to becoming a journalist specialising in insurance.

A: I have always believed that things will work out the way it’s supposed to work out. I had no plan, no idea what my career path was going to be, even in the early stage of deciding what I wanted to study… After doing my honours in Communication I was a lecturer and then had the opportunity to join my dad in his business, which was a publication he started aimed at brokers, advisers, and the entire insurance and financial services industry. And just to clarify, I am not a journalist. I am the Editor and I run the business with my amazing business partner Michelle Schreuder-Rankin, and we have two incredible journalists on the team (Gareth Stokes and Myra Knoesen). I am the bigger picture person, building the relationship and growing the business, and completely passionate about it. Love my job more than I ever thought… but I believed and still believe that things will work out exactly as planned… and it did. I am blessed!

Q: Give us an insight into your journalistic beat. What do you cover, who is your audience, how can they access your content and why should they consume it?

A: FAnews is aimed at brokers, advisers, intermediaries, planners, and tied agents. Our readers, however, are the entire insurance and financial services industries… every single person working in any part of these industries. We have a magazine – FAnews (6 editions per year) which is print and digital; we do newsletters on industry issues from Monday to Thursday every week; we have a CPD system where anyone can do their CPDs at no cost, and we have a phenomenal competition called The Insurance Apprentice. You will find access to everything on www.FAnews.co.za and if you are keen to explore the CPD option, just find the CPD tag and follow the process. To learn more about The Insurance Apprentice, just follow us on Facebook or visit www.TheInsuranceApprentice.co.za to get all the detail.

Q: What are the most exciting developments – business, technological, regulatory, products or otherwise – that you see happening in insurance in 2023?

A: We at FAnews are in a very fortunate position to get all the news fairly fast. We have a lot of advertisers and an incredible amount of really good relationships, and for this reason, I am going to be safe and refer people to the FAnews website. There are many regulatory developments and it’s fantastic to see that companies are really pulling out all the stops to be innovative, be first to market, and be inclusive. The efforts to get the uninsured market into the pool are most certainly there and it’s exciting to see what is brewing in the Fintech and Insurtech space. Visit FAnews.co.za and get all the news.

Q: Every industry has its movers and shakers, disruptors, and game-changers. Who or what do you think are the people or developments to watch in the South African insurance industry?

A: One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about what I do, is the interviews I have with industry colleagues about things happening at their companies or plans they have. An interview with Mpumi Tyikwe, CEO Sasria, was really insightful and the plans he has for Sasria are incredible. I am hoping that his plan does come to fruition because it makes sense and it will fill some gaps – go and listen to my interview.

I have to mention that I also always enjoy the passion of the Hollardites – whatever they do and wherever they invest money, they drive it and go big… watch this space.

Two companies I recently dealt with made me super excited too… they are not in the short-term space but relevant to all as they operate very strongly in the Employee Benefits space. One of these, Unu Health, is focussing on really expanding the accessibility of healthcare to everyone who is getting an income, no matter how small. Go and read about them on FAnews, it’s exciting stuff.
There’s more, but visit FAnews and you’ll spot them.

Q: What are the positive aspects of the insurance industry in South Africa?

A: How much time do you have? Being passionate about what I do makes it easy to find all the great things we as an industry do. Except for the massive amount of job creation, we do as an industry, we drive the economy in a big way, we restore lives, we drive innovation, we solve problems, and a lot of us really have the passion… it’s not just a job!

Q: And what aspects can be improved on?

A: I do believe that there are some serious service delivery issues… some things still take far too long to sort out. I think we can most certainly improve on equal opportunities and equal pay – the whole men vs women debate, because this seems to remain an issue. And I think knowledge transfer needs to get a bit more attention. We are losing great minds and the gaps they leave are often too big.

Q: What is your favourite insurance story that you have covered so far?

A: There’s a lot of good stuff happening in the industry, but no specific standout. I can be biased and say anything Insurance Apprentice is just incredible, but that is just too subjective.  

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