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Elite Risk Acceptances: The power of relationships and growing your own timber


Elite Risk Acceptances: The power of relationships and growing your own timber
24-04-24 / Elite Risk Acceptances

Elite Risk Acceptances: The power of relationships and growing your own timber

A subsidiary of Old Mutual Insure, Elite Risk has long understood the importance of fostering strong connections. In the below piece, Tarina Vlok (pictured), MD of Elite Risk, discusses what makes Elite Risk special.

Q: Reflecting on Elite’s journey, what are you most proud of?

Elite Risk was born in 2018 from the dream to offer something extraordinary to high-net-worth clients. Since the start our growth has been remarkable. During our first year of operation, we achieved a growth of 123%. In 2021, I took over the role of Managing Director, and Tandiwe Cimela was appointed as Chief Operations Officer in May 2022. By the end of 2023, we exceeded R0.5 billion in premium income.

Q: Relationships have always been a cornerstone of Elite’s business philosophy. Will it evolve?

A: In the old days, our interactions with brokers might have revolved more around leisurely lunches, but today, relationships are informed and enriched by data. We value the personal touch and have also learned that relationships must be grounded in mutual business interests. Moving forward, we foresee an evolution towards deeper partnerships, driven by data and a shared commitment to sustainability. The focus shifts from merely serving brokers to true collaboration and partnership, with the ultimate goal of delivering value to our mutual clients.

Q: How does Elite Risk approach the risk landscape?

We are facing a range of evolving risks, including misinformation, climate change, inflation, cyber issues, the lack of regulation of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), and fraud. The non-life insurance industry worldwide is facing similar challenges, the most notable of which is climate change and the resultant large and catastrophic claim events.

But risks also present opportunity. We believe that the extensive use of predictive models, combined with a risk mitigation and wealth management approach, is key to ensuring the sustainability of insurance for the segment.

Q: Are you working on any innovative product offerings?

A: Yes, indeed. We are committed to differentiated client servicing and are exploring diversification and expansion opportunities, leveraging Old Mutual's presence in Africa. We are exploring personalised offerings tailored to the unique needs of clients across various regions, alongside product line diversification to effectively meet emerging demands. Watch this space!

Q: What are the top qualities for effective leadership in your industry?

A: Resilience is an essential quality. Besides that, leaders should be inclusive, transformational, client-centric and embrace diversity. Transactional leadership is old-fashioned and not suitable to the modern work environment. As our workforce moves to mostly millennials, it is important for leaders to prioritise the wellness of staff. Of course, profits are important, but there is a school of thought which says if you look after your staff, the profits will follow.

Q: How does Elite Risk prioritise its staff?

A: We have a small staff complement of 50, including the claims team, in support of our operational efficiency strategy. At Elite Risk we firmly believe in growing our own timber, and I believe this has been crucial to our success. I am an example of this, as I was Chief Operating Officer before being promoted to Managing Director. We prioritise employee wellbeing and engagement through process optimisation and internal promotions, fostering a culture of growth and development. Approximately 50% of our administrative staff have been promoted over the years, a testament to our commitment to growing talent internally and maintaining low staff turnover.

Q: Looking forward, what are your growth prospects in 2024?

A: While the economic environment presents challenges, we remain optimistic about our growth prospects for 2024. We are focusing on expanding our relationships and leveraging opportunities for diversification and expansion. Despite facing headwinds, we are committed to our journey towards a more sustainable position, recognising the importance of collaboration and innovation in navigating the complexities of the current risk landscape in insurance. Partnerships will become key in tackling our industry’s biggest problems. As we continue to evolve, we see the opportunity for insurers to become ambassadors for sustainability, driving positive change in the communities we serve.

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