The South African mutual fund landscape has drastically changed over the last decade. Ever changing (and increasing) market pressures, evolving digital requirements, and the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic have all driven businesses to digitise simply to survive. Now, as we resume life in the “new normal” digitisation is no longer only a key tool for survival, but a valuable precursor to success as well.
Recently the only mutual financial services company in South Africa focusing exclusively on graduate professionals – providing tailor-made insurance, investment, and healthcare solutions to members – discovered the value of an innovative approach, as it embarked on a campaign to roll out digital signatures across its organisation.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency defines a digital signature as a type of electronic signature routinely used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a message (e.g., an email, a credit card transaction, or a digital document). “Digital signatures create a virtual fingerprint that is unique to a person or entity and are used to identify users and protect information in digital messages or documents. In emails, the email content itself becomes part of the digital signature. Digital signatures are significantly more secure than other forms of electronic signatures. Digital signatures increase the transparency of online interactions and develop trust between customers, business partners, and vendors.”
With this in mind, the mutual financial services company partnered with a local secure eSignatures provider to implement digital signatures across its broker and member operations. “Employing great foresight, this financial services provider spent lockdown wisely. The business fastidiously put the work in to ensure that, when we get back to ‘life as usual’, their new, digitised broker experience is anything but normal and vastly improved,” confirms Carrie Peter, Managing Director of Impression Signatures.
This strategic move is paying dividends as broker, member and customer relationships are bolstered in four powerful ways: forward-thinking innovation helping members keep pace with global digitisation; greater security, data privacy, and compliance reducing fraud risk and limiting losses; and enhanced usability, auditability, and convenience… all leading to tangible cost savings through automation, to the benefit of members’ profit share interest.
“This level of innovation certainly differentiates this fund in its industry and will become a compelling factor for competitors to follow suit,” believes Peter. “Add to this the enhanced security and data privacy controls offered to its broker network, and greater confidence and peace of mind are guaranteed. The true value lies in the benefits that this move passes on to the fund’s members; serving not only to strengthen relationships but drive a sound reputation for the fund and its members too.”
Peter confirms that, at the end of 2021 the mutual fund and Impression were recognised with an Innovation Award for the integration of WhatsApp as a regular business channel. This offers brokers, members, and customers convenience, enhanced user-experience, and far improved services. “This includes the advent of a virtual assistant, available to all of the fund’s customers,” says Peter.
The culmination of these benefits is the ultimate bottom line for most businesses: cost savings. Due to the fund’s company structure, not having any shareholders means all returns and cost savings are given to its members, giving them significant return on investment. “Essentially, digitisation has allowed the mutual fund to save money, which ultimately ends up in members’ hands, driving loyalty and instilling a culture of true mutuality,” concludes Peter.