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SA's top financial services product suppliers crowned at the 2014 FIA Awards celebrations

The 2014 Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards gala dinner took place last night (Thursday, 12 June 2014) at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
More than a thousand industry representatives thronged to the glittering black-tie event to congratulate the insurers, underwriters and investment companies that provide the best support to the intermediaries that make up the FIA's membership.

Arnold van der Linde, President of the FIA, says that the FIA Awards represent the benchmark for excellence in the offerings of product suppliers as rated by South Africa's financial and risk advisers.

He added that the FIA prides itself in working with industry stakeholders to protect members' interests and promote the value of good financial and risk advice to the consuming public.

"The FIA Awards celebrations remind us of the complex relationships that must exist to ensure that financial consumers are treated fairly," says Van der Linde. "Product suppliers must design solutions that perform in line with their promises; but these products can only fulfil the purpose for which they are designed if accompanied by relevant explanation, clarification and professional and appropriate

He observes that the 2014 FIA Awards played out at a crucial juncture in the industry's regulatory evolution: "Whilst we tonight celebrate the top insurance product providers we do so acknowledging the undeniable benefits that our free and competitive market system affords our joint clients."

"As we celebrate the industry's top product suppliers we should also embrace - with all of the associated responsibilities - our task to vigorously protect the free market that makes our clients' product choices possible. Let's never invite nor, though irresponsible actions, force the regulator to kill our industry with excessive regulation."

Highlights from the evening

Nine FIA Awards were issued to cover the four 'core' disciplines in the financial advice space, namely employee benefits, financial planning (including risk and investment advice), healthcare and short term insurance.

Santam was responsible for a big turnaround in the Short Term Insurer of the Year category, winning both the Commercial and Corporate accolade.

Hollard, which won all three awards in the Short Term category in 2013, emerged once again as the intermediaries' choice for Short Term Insurer of the Year - Personal lines, scooping this award for the third year running.

There was a new winner in the Underwriting Managers category with CIA returning to the number one position after a three-year absence.

Financial services giant, Discovery bagged two awards through Discovery Life in the category Long Term Insurer of the Year - Risk and Discovery Health for Product Supplier of the Year - Healthcare. The country's largest open medical scheme administrator has won the award in each year since its introduction and appears virtually unbeatable in this category.

Allan Gray took the honours in Investment Products Single Premium while Liberty Life held off the competition in the Investment Products Recurring Premium category.

Sanlam Employee Benefits claimed the prize as Product Supplier of the Year - Employee Benefits.

State-owned insurer Sasria - currently celebrating its 35th year in the special risks insurance business - received an industry recognition award for its ongoing support to FIA member brokers. Sasria protects both private and corporate insurance consumers from riot, strike, terrorism, civil commotion and public disorder losses.

The 2014 FIA Awards winners were determined by way of an extensive survey of FIA members, conducted independently by Bluestream Research. The research company asked respondents to rate product providers based on product quality, service quality and relationship quality.

"The main objective of the FIA benchmark survey is to determine and recognise South Africa's top performing product providers, independently rated on intermediary satisfaction," says Pieter Aucamp, CEO of Bluestream Research. "What distinguishes the FIA Awards is the consistent methodology that has been applied, improved upon and perfected over the nine consecutive years that Bluestream has been involved in the survey".

The 16th FIA Awards is one of the most comprehensive total industry broker satisfaction benchmarks produced in South Africa. This year 6417 contracts were evaluated over a 10-week period. A staggering 24000 telephone calls were placed to finalise the interviews, which each took approximately13 minutes to complete.

"We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulation to each of the category winners at the 2014 FIA Awards," says FIA CEO, Justus Van Pletzen. "And we offer a special word of thanks to those product suppliers who continue to back the model of intermediated distribution and consistently put their clients - our members - first."

"While the FIA Awards present an ideal platform for product suppliers to be recognised for going that extra mile, we should not lose sight of the role that valuable and reputable advice plays in assisting consumers to secure their financial futures."

Below is the full list of 2014 winners:

2014 FIA Awards winners



Short-Term Insurer of the Year - Personal LinesHollard
Short-Term Insurer of the Year - CommercialSantam
Short-Term Insurer of the Year - CorporateSantam
Underwriting Manager of the YearCIA
Long-Term Insurer of the Year - RiskDiscovery
Product Supplier of the Year - Investment Products Single PremiumAllan Gray
Product Supplier of the Year - Investment Products Recurring PremiumLiberty
Product Supplier of the Year - Employee BenefitsSanlam
Product Supplier of the Year - HealthcareDiscovery

Side bar: Highlights of FIA achievements over the past five years:

FIA Achievements - 2008 to 2014
  • Introduced the FIA Code of Conduct to provide our members with a professional framework for conducting business with their clients in line with the provisions of the FIAS Act;
  • The FIA went to Parliament in 2008 to represent its members' concerns with regards the then-proposed Insurance Laws Amendment Act, with the result the implementation date was pushed out;
  • The FIA was instrumental in securing income streams for brokers during the drafting and implementation of new Binder Agreements;
  • The FIA provided member support for the thousands of key individuals and representatives within our structures who had to sit the Level 1 Regulatory Examinations;
  • The FIA made direct and successful representations to the Minister of Health to have broker healthcare fees reviewed in 2012 - and again in 2014 - though the quantum of these increases are subject to further debate
  • The FIA successfully petitioned Sasria to review its broker commission structures achieving an increase for its members from 7.5% to 10% of premium in 2012 - and to 11% from July 2013;
  • The FIA ensured that its larger members continued to receive Section 156 Interest on Premium when regulators proposed the practice be abandoned;
  • The FIA is involved in a joint venture known as the Human Capital Development project.
    It will work with other representative bodies such as SAIA and the IISA as well as the Financial Services Board to create an industry road map for new entrants to the insurance industry; and
  • The FIA is represented on the executive committee of the WFII, where FIA past president, Seamus Casserly, is now immediate past President.

12 Jun 2014 14:50