Alexander Forbes continues to impart financial and social benefit to the people of Botswana through a customer-centric approach, diversified products and extensive social responsibility initiatives.
PROVIDING FINANCIAL WELLBEING
Business is buoyant in Botswana right now.
Owing to sizeable fiscal buffers and prudent political, social and economic policies, the country has enjoyed strong growth for a number of years. Further, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development recently outlined the new government’s plans to transform the economy following the conclusion of the October 2019 national elections.
From ICT improvements to the creation of sustainable jobs, tackling corruption, enhancing education and training, the provision of quality healthcare and attracting both local and international investments, its commitments have the country poised for prosperity, and many industries are already thriving.
“The financial services industry in Botswana is evolving, with more players entering this space. There are currently four licensed retirement fund administrators compared to two in the previous year, and there has been some regulatory framework changes and amendments which will positively impact our corporate and individual clients,” Poloko Masitara, CEO of Alexander Forbes Botswana states.
It’s been little over 12 months since I last spoke with Masitara, the Chief Executive able to pick up with similar optimism to where we left off.
In the past year, Alexander Forbes Botswana has achieved a member under administration growth of 16 percent, retained 95 percent of its existing clients and changed its strategy to being advice-led and focussed on clients.
“We’ve also increased our marketing activities and visibility including our participation in industry events, planned and implemented the first annual Alexander Forbes wellness month, and rolled out our Life Gauge consulting tool that is focussed on retirement health, allowing us to demonstrate to clients the effect of different variables on future retirement prospects,” Masitara states.
“Furthermore, our use of the AFONLINE platform has intensified – another tool our members may use to monitor and improve their retirement and investment planning through help with budgeting, saving, debt, tax, retirement, life and education.”
MANDATED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
To say that 2019 was a busy year for the company would be an understatement.
The entrance of new players and a rising awareness of the financial services sector has facilitated an injection of healthy competition in Botswana, and Alexander Forbes has been proactive, continuing to improve its offering and deliver on its value proposition of providing financial wellbeing and peace of mind through integrated and holistic advice.
“We’ve definitely seen our model shift to being an advice-led client centric,” Masitara comments.
“We’ve integrated all parts of our business, developed our client facing team with divisional experts, introduced new, innovative investments, products and enablement hub, and created a joint service platform including our fund administration, technology and shared services.”
Aside from the aforementioned operational improvements, it has also expanded upon already extensive participation in corporate social responsibility initiatives, delivering meaningful benefits to disadvantaged communities and individuals in a multitude of ways.
Its support of the Dignity Foundation. A registered non-profit organisation which provides sanitary pads, counselling for abuse, education on health and legal rights, cancer preventative medical checks treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and protection from sexual and violent abuse to girls nationwide.
Further, we partnered with the Dreams Alive Club on its Girl Talk Dreamer’s exchange expo, which is designed to inspire adolescent girls and young women in pursuing aspirational careers. “We partnered with Dreams Alive Club under the investment, accounting and financial services career hub and sponsored 15 students attending the career expo. We’re proud to work with them. Their programmes are focussed on empowering young people in the greater Gaborone area by engaging them in community activities and workshops that allow interaction with knowledgeable industry specialists and influential role models,” Masitara reveals.
“They deliver positive recreational activities, facilitate career mentorships and develop discussions around communities and social issues that promote behavioural change.”
The Chief Executive herself also recently attended a ceremony at Mosikari Secondary School in central Botswana, where Alexander Forbes sponsored the gifts that were presented to the best performing students, many of which are from challenged backgrounds.
“We also sponsored the UB Foundation’s 19th annual fundraising gala dinner,” she adds. “The proceeds from this event are used to offer graduate scholarships to high performing Botswana students, 250 of which have been supported since its inception in 2004.”
MOVING WITH THE MARKET
Such initiatives reflect Alexander Forbes Botswana’s position as important contributor to socioeconomic empowerment in Botswana.
Through the latter stages of 2019 and early part of 2020, the company has both continued to deliver upon a vast and growing variety of empowerment initiatives and bring ever better products and services to the local populous, further advancing the country’s financial services industry.
But what of the remainder of the year? And beyond that?
“Right now, we’re working on rolling out a new customer-centric system and developing our administration system to further enhance our operational efficiency, capitalising on new capabilities such as automation of our processes,” Masitara muses, looking ahead.
“Technology is changing constantly in this market, and we recognise that we will continually have to respond in order to accommodate clients across all age bands and improve their individual experiences with us.”
WHAT NEXT FOR ALEXANDER FORBES BOTSWANA?
For Alexander Forbes Botswana, the goals for the next 12 months will be much the same as before – to retain its existing client base, capitalise on new opportunities and diversify its products and services.
Adversity may need to be overcome in this period, particularly the local and global and economic impact of the COVID-19 which has resulted in governments across the world taking various measures to control its spread. Botswana has not been spared and the government has already responded with guidelines and restrictions to protect people from the virus. Alexander Forbes has also taken measures across the group and has implemented health protocols to safeguard both staff and clients against the virus, as well as institute remote working in order to engage and service clients during this period.
Masitara admits the virus presents new challenges for Botswana and Alexander Forbes and fully supports these measures.
Notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19 on the Botswana economy, Masitara is cautiously optimistic about the future of the country.
“Presenting the proposed budget for 2020/21, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development explained that the government would respond to the need to propel the economy,” Masitara states, looking to the future.