Liberty, the international brand with South African roots and a growing presence across Africa, commemorates 60 years in business this year. Since its inception in 1957, the company’s mission has been to understand clients’ financial needs and to provide solutions to transform their lives through financial freedom.
The 60 year journey has been marked by many firsts in industry. Liberty was the first life company to list on the JSE, the first to introduce retirement annuities, first to pioneer regional shopping centres, introduce universal life products and underwritten medical insurance.
Liberty was founded by Sir Donald Gordon, with the conviction of being able to provide customers with the opportunity to grow their wealth and leave a lasting legacy for their family. He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them become more prepared for the benefit of making their financial freedom possible. His passion and legacy was the forward-thinking flair which continues to flourish in the group.
Innovative product development has enabled the launch of ground-breaking products over the past 60 years. In 1960, Liberty introduced the first retirement annuity products in SA. Five years later, together with two others, Liberty launched the first unit trust and life insurance benefits linked to unit trusts.
Other milestones include Liberty being the first life assurance company to list on the stock exchange in 1962;being appointed as the official life assurer of the SA cricket squad in 1997; in 2000 Liberty Global Term launched its first offshore life cover product and by 2012 Liberty Health had over one million members across Africa.
Since offering its first policy in 1958, Liberty’s in-depth understanding of trends in consumer behaviour, developments in information technology and government’s social agenda have been important overlays in the company’s ability to assess current market conditions and anticipate future needs.In 2013, the market-first Education Benefit was launched and MyLife,was the first of its kind offered in Uganda. More recently, Liberty has developed Bold, Evolve,Agile, Term Life, unit trust tax free savings account, the STANLIB Kenya I-REIT and the Liberty Two Degrees REIT.
Remaining competitive is key to Liberty’s value propositions enabling customers to achieve financial freedom, peace of mind and increased choice. As a result, Liberty founded dHub in 2016 to pioneer a quicker, more flexible and accurate approach to customers and projects. Its objective is to introduce agile and fast interfaces that create a virtual environment for customers and financial advisers alike. It puts customer centricity into practice by involving customers and financial advisers in every step of product and service design. Consequently, time-saving digital application forms are replacing paper documentation and digital applications are being formulated. Ongoing customer research shows that younger customers expect digital and mobile interactivity.Stash, launched early this year, is a mobile application to facilitate savings via smartphones.
Through the Liberty Foundation which was launched in 1971, the Group extends its knowledge and expertise through numerous corporate responsibility initiatives. In the past year alone, Liberty has invested a total of R40 million on the continent: R3.4 billion in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme, R37 million in local programmes focused primarily on education, R63 million in enterprise and supplier development and R11 million on financial literacy, reaching almost 26 000 people. In addition, STANLIB’s flagship Smartbucks financial literacy initiative has, since 2012, taught over 60 000 learners from 300 schools in disadvantaged areas.
Liberty’s greatest achievement has been and continues to be in assisting men and women in all walks of life to achieve financial security. This is attained through knowledge in action and is the cornerstone of the business,the root of the group’s success and the source of the brand’s strength. The founding philosophy remains a belief that for everyone, knowledge is the freedom that replaces uncertainty with conviction and security. As Liberty journeys into the future, the group remains dedicated to the vision to be Africa’s trusted leader in insurance and investment. Liberty is committed to being a force for positive change in individual lives and to leaving a lasting legacy for all South Africans.
60 YEARS OF WORKING EVERY DAY FOR YOUR ONE DAY
The value lies in the advice
Financial advice is key in enabling financial freedom. With the recognition that anyone can offer advice, Liberty have spent an enormous amount of time and resources over the years educating our communities that financial advice should be left to professionals who are trained and qualified.
The company takes pride in the quality of its Financial Advisers (FAs) and Brokers.Qualified, professional and experienced FA’s and Brokers give appropriate advice and guide clients to plan for any eventuality, even in a tough economic environment. Liberty believes that true value is the advice itself.
Expectant Lebogang gets the unexpected at seven months of pregnancy
When 28 year old Lebogang found out she was pregnant with her first child, she couldn’t wait to start her new family. As a business analyst at a bank, she was secure in the knowledge that she had a good job that would give her the income she and her partner needed to raise her little one. However, seven months into her pregnancy, she was forced to deal with devastating news.
On a routine visit to her gynaecologist, to check up on the health of her baby, Lebogang asked her doctor to check a lump she felt in her breast. After a battery of further tests with different doctors, she was diagnosed with Stage Three Breast Cancer on 20 April 2017.
“I couldn’t believe what the doctors were telling me. When the oncologist recommended that I start treatment immediately, my first thought was for the health and well-being of my unborn child. The emotional trauma left me overwhelmed.I wasn’t sure what the future held for me, my family and my baby,” says Lebogang.
She knew that if she was going to get through this unexpected situation, she would have to acknowledge, accept and deal with the circumstances. Lebogang placed her medical care in the capable hands of her doctors. Once she understood the full gravity of the situation, she started looking at the financial implications.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I first thought of my family and the impact it would have on them. Then, I turned my thoughts to my finances and asked myself, am I covered?”
Fortunately for Lebogang, a few years earlier, she bought a house. During the buying process, she had to take out life cover. She contacted her broker and took out a life insurance policy with Liberty, not thinking that she would ever need to claim for a dread disease.
“I took out this policy in order to secure my home loan. When the cancer diagnosis was made, I contacted Liberty directly and they sent me a copy of my policy documents. Only then did I realise that I had the right level of dread disease cover in place.”
Lebogang initially processed her claim directly with Liberty. However, she quickly realised that she was too preoccupied with her pregnancy and medical condition to also have to deal with the administration related to claiming on the policy. At this point, Lebogang contacted her broker, who immediately took over the claims process.
“I didn’t expect my broker to be such a great help to me. I also didn’t realise the amount of trust I would have to place in him. He was fully supportive, gave me his personal contact information and helped me lay my financial concerns to rest by dealing with the entire claim.”
According to Lebogang, Liberty and her broker constantly kept her updated with the claims process by sending email notifications every step of the way. The claim was paid out shortly after the application was made; bringing much needed financial relief to the heart-wrenching situation.
“You never truly understand the value of Liberty’s life cover and a broker until the need to claim arises. Cancer treatment takes a toll on your body. The side effects are severe. Add the fact that I was pregnant, I needed to keep my immune system as strong as possible. The immune booster supplements alone are quite expensive and this policy allowed me to get the best treatment available in the market today.”
The good news is that Lebogang gave birth to a strong and healthy baby girl two months ago, “I was so happy when my baby was born with no negative side effects. Now I can focus my time on raising my first child and getting healthy without any financial concerns.”
Lebogang’s journey is just beginning. By November 2017, she will come to the end of her first cycle of chemotherapy treatments. The doctors will then assess if she is strong enough to undergo an operation to remove the cancer from her breast. After the operation, she will have to undergo radiotherapy to keep the cancer at bay.
“I must be strong on my journey with cancer. I have the best motivator in the world to recover from this disease. My healthy baby girl is what keeps me going. I am truly grateful to Liberty and my broker for dealing with my situation so efficiently.”
Lebogang’s story teaches us that unfortunate events can impact anyone and any time. The challenges life has to throw can derail you if you’re not prepared for them. As one of South Africa’s leading insurance and investment companies, Liberty is proud to have been able to fulfil its purpose in Lebogang’s life – Covering her risks so that she can enjoy every moment with her new bundle of joy.