Together We Can
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
Metropolitan Lesotho is making the most of a successful 2017 as the insurance services Company looks back at 50 years as a cutting-edge responsive solutions provider, and looks forward to another 50 years of market innovation to come.
The wholly-owned subsidiary of JSE-listed MMI has evolved immeasurably over its five decades of domination, evolving from its Home Trust branch origins in 1967 - mostly catering for funeral and burial policies - to become a fully-fledged domiciled operator offering the full span of life insurance products.
Ranging across basic funeral cover, life cover, annuities, pensions, investment products, preservation products and medical aid products, Metropolitan Lesotho’s aim to provide financial wellness for Basotho across all spheres is being realised to great effect.
“The business is made up of three key businesses: the Health business offering medical aid solutions; the Corporate Business offering employee benefits solutions like pensions, preservation funds and annuities; and the Retail division offering life insurance solutions for individuals across Lesotho,” introduces the Company’s Health General Manager, Sepinare Lenkoe. “The business currently has a geographical presence across seven districts with plans to reach all national districts via a branch network in the future.
“The current product suite is very expansive and the biggest of any insurer locally.”
These include holiday, funeral, education, investment, annuity, life cover, disability, retirement, income continuation, capital preservation, asset management, hospitalisation and medical aid products and solutions; continuously diversifying in order to extend its reach provision-wise as well as geographically.
“We are on the cutting-edge of responsive solutions, offering some of the best and most innovative products which are not available from our local competitors,” Lenkoe adds.
Undergoing a revamp
Never standing still in the market is a trait synonymous with Metropolitan Lesotho’s success over the years, epitomised by a series of recent additions to its product portfolio to once again enforce its position as a turnkey entity.
The launch of its Mpower Financial Wellness product is a prime example of its renowned innovation, consequently addressing a holistic aim to make the Company’s clients financially secure at all times.
Before introducing such services, however, Metropolitan Lesotho capitalises on its wealth of experience and expertise in-house, by carrying out extensive marketing, research and development in order to find the most pressing and sought-after solutions.
“At group level we have the annual Momentum Household Financial Wellness index, which informs where challenges are within the market, as well as a biannual market survey by Metropolitan Lesotho, to inform us on where gaps are within the market,” Lenkoe explains. “One particular industry trend we’re monitoring at the moment, for instance, is the deterioration of the financial wellness of our clientele as a result of high debt and increasingly precarious job security.”
Preparedness for these kinds of challenges also entails ongoing investments on an internal basis too, recently highlighted via system upgrades across its health and corporate businesses, and soon to be compounded by a planned migration for the retail market to ensure the sector’s offerings are client-centric as well as innovative and world-class.
“Our branch network has also been undergoing a revamp in line with our new corporate image, and to better ensure client-centric layouts; the Leribe branch the latest to be revamped,” Lenkoe continues. “New offices are also set to be opened in Mohales hoek, Qacha’s Nek and Maputsoe.”
In each established and forthcoming office exists a key differentiator for Metropolitan Lesotho in the form of its workforce.
As an accredited Investors in People Company, it has thrived upon the role it takes in developing individual skills, and has become somewhat of a pioneer in the industry for its enrichment to this end.
“We also have training and personal development as an integral part of our performance management, and a substantial part of our training budget is dedicated to up-skilling our staff,” Lenkoe affirms. “Each year, at least a third of the workforce goes through some form of structured development.
“We are proud of our investment and support from the communities we serve and, to date, we are working hard to ensure that we up-skill locals for any roles that we currently rely on outside expertise for.”
There is a similarly localised bias when it comes to the supply chain too, with more than 80 percent of the Company’s procurement budget going to local providers. Additionally, any new business partnerships are entered into with the aim of reinvesting in the communities that support the business; an initiative that spills over into its concerted corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.
“We are at the forefront of investing in the local economy, with annual CSI (corporate social investment) in excess of M7 million,” Lenkoe says. “Our bias is towards sustainable educational projects and clusters of communities that actively support Metropolitan Lesotho.”
Investment into local enrichment is only set to increase over the next 50 years of operations, as Metropolitan Lesotho targets even more rounded growth in the future, driven as always by a desire to tackle the country’s wellness challenges with the most advanced, modern and relevant solutions.
“In the next few years, we hope to have expanded the markets Metropolitan has solutions for within the insurance and asset management space, while also expanding the business to position it to better compete with cross-border competitors,” Lenkoe concludes. “We are proud of our 50-year heritage which we are celebrating this year. I feel that our roots run deep within this country and we will continue to be there and partner with Basotho on this journey of financial wellness.”