Partner for Life
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
Zimnat Life Assurance Company Limited (Zimnat Life) has consolidated its position as the one-stop shop provider of life assurance and investments to businesses and individuals in Zimbabwe over six successful decades.
Established in 1961, it has transformed into a provider of a full range of value-added products for individuals and corporate operations in Zimbabwe.
The transformation occurred in 1984 when TA Holdings increased its stake in the Company from 49 percent to 100 percent; 31 years later the shareholders for Zimnat Life changed from TA Holdings to Masawara Holdings and Sanlam Emerging Markets. Sanlam, established in 1918, is a leading financial services provider with the largest insurance presence on the continent will be a key technical partner in supporting Zimnat Life to enhance its product and service offerings for clients.
Having firmly rooted itself into the market as the ‘go-to’ life assurance provider, the products within Zimnat’s remit cover life from the cradle to the grave under its ‘Partner for Life’ theme and includes Education Protectors, Personal Pension Plans, Whole Life and Funeral Policies.
“Our products ensure that every aspect of our customers’ lives are protected under our ‘Partner for Life’ promise,” explains Elizabeth Rabvukwa, Chief Operating Officer at Zimnat Life. “Therefore we are able to offer an incredibly convenient service while providing high-quality and competitive life assurance, pensions and annuities across the generations.”
The past 15 years has witnessed Zimnat Life diversify its operations into subsidiaries, providing services such as Asset Management, Medical Aid Administration, Micro Finance and Property Development. This has been driven in the main part by the need to design products which enable clients to continuously improve their lifestyles, while also meeting their business needs and working within the responsibilities attached to Zimnat Life’s customer promise.
Rabvukwa continues: “Zimnat Life is guided by a defining purpose to empower our clients to reach their full potential through solutions that will enable them to not only plan for their dreams, but also protect against the unforeseeable.”
The individual life products created at Zimnat provide a comprehensive set of personal packages which are designed to cushion beneficiaries against any eventuality, be it death at a young age, disability or long life.
“Our individual life packages prepare beneficiaries for whatever life throws at them. Therefore they ensure that those who remain behind in the event of death are well covered in terms of their welfare, while also fully taking care of those who live up to old age,” adds Rabvukwa.
Broadening market possibilities
Zimnat Life’s distribution channel consists of 80 percent local business partnerships and tied agents, with the exception of the Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan, which is distributed by an independent agent based in the UK. Another exciting development stems from discussions which are currently at an advanced stage with the South African authorities for a Co-Insurance arrangement with Sanlam to cater for the Zimbabwean Diaspora in South Africa.
With such a balanced approach to building relationships in the industry and the increasing spread of the Company footprint, Zimnat Life is able to tap into markets that had not previously been available to them.
An innovative mindset is one of the leading factors in the success seen at Zimnat Life; consistently coming up with new ideas and projects which will broaden its market possibilities.
“One of the country’s leading mobile service providers, Telecel, is now distributing our products. The products being distributed are not within our usual parameter; instead they are on a micro-insurance basis, therefore enabling any uninsured person to afford the protection our insurance provides,” Rabvukwa affirms. “Alongside this, we are also in the process of setting up franchises to increase the distribution network for our products.”
In order to make a successful transition during this period of growth, a huge precedent is placed on finding the right employees for the role. Zimnat Life takes pride in hiring, training and retaining highly qualified personnel and those who demonstrate potential for growth within the Company.
“Zimnat believes in building its own talent to fill in high level and demanding positions and we only resort to external hiring for scarce skills,” confirms Rabvukwa. “All strategic positions and skills are deliberately filled up primarily by local people for ease of consistent training, management and ownership.”
A heavy reliance on local skills is peppered with external enhancement exposure when there is a need; this is reflected in the policy in relation to hiring personnel. Hiring is approached on a need basis and will usually start from internship programmes, where the individuals who demonstrate potential talent are absorbed into the system. Targeted training is then focused on both technical and leadership development.
The Company’s policy on retention is based initially on training and development, followed by secondments, mentorship, coaching, knowledge sharing as well as caring for employee wellness and welfare. The attention and care paid to both the local area and its staff is also reflected in the comprehensive corporate social responsibility programme Zimnat Life which covers key areas such as the environment, education and health.
“The Group is fully committed to giving back to the communities in which we operate, with a particular focus on periodically giving school fee bursaries to underprivileged children,” describes Rabvukwa. “As an environmentally conscious citizen, Zimnat Life is also involved in ensuring the maintenance of the Africa Unity Square situated close to our offices and the Parliament of Zimbabwe.”
Zimnat’s competitive advantage
Zimnat’s competitive advantage is centred on excellence in the service it delivers, which is aptly demonstrated by the Group being awarded first runner up for service excellence by the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe in both 2015 and 2016.
“A testimony to the Company’s robust and competitive nature was the upgrading of Zimant Life’s National Scale Financial Strength Rating to A- from BBB+ by Global Credit Ratings (GCR) award in October, 2015,” Says Rabvukwa. “This is the highest rated accolade that can be awarded to a life assurance company in Zimbabwe at present and our position at the top was reaffirmed again in 2016.”
Coupled with a number of awards is the strong brand heritage of existence for more than 50 years, alongside the shareholding with an internationally recognised insurance group in Africa, Sanlam Emerging Markets; this not only makes it an insurer of choice but also the go-to Company in terms of business needs.
Experience is a theme that flows through the Company and is a fundamental reason for its success over the past 50 years.
“At Zimnat Life, the experience level filters from the top down with the Company led by Mr Munyaradzi Javangwe the Chief Executive Officer, who is a qualified mechanical engineer as well as a lending professional,” Rabvukwa concludes. The top executives collectively have more than 50 years’ experience in the insurance industry, which provides a solid foundation for sustainable growth for the business.