IIWC president Liza Morris: focused on growing young people in insurance

It seems that every insurance institute, and by association, all those involved within the various institutes, has realised the importance of involving young people from the onset of their careers, making insurance their career of choice.

Liza Morris.
Liza Morris.

While some of our institutes have been around for quite some time - the Insurance Institute of Western Cape (IIWC), which underwent a rebrand recently, celebrates 120 years this year – it seems that involving the youth might just be the key to lasting another century. 

We recently interviewed Liza Morris, 2019 president of the IIWC, who wholeheartedly agrees: “We need to get our youth, matriculants and financial varsity graduates, excited about joining our industry.

"Huge leaps and bounds have been made in this area already, with a number of players in the industry running learnership programmes and offering scholarships. Insurance is becoming a chosen profession for some – how awesome is that?”

Morris proudly adds that the IIWC has an education pillar, which it has utilised to offer a scholarship to one of its members, and is “hoping to grow this programme. In addition, we have the U35s platform, which is going from strength to strength.”

She describes herself as a “daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, colleague and fearless leader of an awesome team”.

Giving us a glimpse of the person behind the “fearless leader”, she proudly lists her family and pets as part of who she is: “I am married with three beautiful kids (13, 17 and 24). We (the village and I) live on a smallholding in Philadelphia - as we love the space and we love animals.”

Her family has a whole zoo, it seems: two horses, five Great Danes, two Jack Russells, two domestic pigs, some koi fish and a budgie …

Yet Morris still finds time for her passion for the insurance industry: “I have been in the Insurance industry for over 25 years and can truly say that I love what I do. Seven of [my years within the industry] were spent in Jozi, and I am currently the regional manager of Bryte Insurance Company Western Cape.”

Morris believes insurance to be a noble profession, playing an irreplaceable role within the South African economy. When asked how she sees the industry play out over the next five years, or what will have the most influence, her answer is unequivocal: artificial intelligence.

“[It] will definitely change the way we do things, e.g. it is the era of driverless vehicles and smart everythings. This is the big game changer as it not only changes the way we do business, but it also changes the fundamentals of the risks we underwrite.”

Contrasting starkly with the imminent AI “takeover” (and its implicated lack of empathy), she mentions that the smartest thing any insurance professional could do is “care”.

Which might very well be the thing that sets us apart in the age of the machines.

Looking at a list of everything she has accomplished over the years in her professional career, she herself admits that she cannot name only one person who has inspired her, or stretched her ideas of thinking.

“My trigger is inspirational thought leadership – so what I can say is: right now, is a really exciting time to be in insurance,” Morris states.

She clearly has big plans for the IIWC, and with this year being its 120th anniversary, you can bet this creative lady has some big plans up her sleeve.

“My tenure comes at an exciting time for the IIWC. I am always about passionate delivery and I really am surrounded by an awesome council this year - who are committed to making a difference and adding value,” Morris says.

We will eagerly watch this space to see what changes, and the growth she has in mind for the institute this year!