RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS PRINCIPLES: CUSTOMERS
Our ability to manage and grow our customers' investments is the source of our value as a business. Across our business units we will:
- Deal with all our customers and clients in a way that is open, honest and respectful
- Give the best advice that we can, to grow our customers' assets in a way that meets their needs
- Sell and promote our financial products in a way that is transparent and never misleading
- Ensure that we provide clear information to customers about how our funds are invested
- Seek and listen to customer feedback and act on it
- Rectify any mistakes that affect customers as quickly as possible
Our ability to manage and grow our customers' savings and wealth is the primary source of our value as a business. We do this most effectively when we build long-term relationships that allow us to better understand individuals' or organisations' changing needs and respond to them accordingly.
Throughout 2008 we continued to invest time and resources in the way we deal with our customers - making sure the products and services we sell are marketed responsibly, ensuring our customers' money is safe from financial crime or simply ensuring that our customers receive a high quality of service whenever they come into contact with us.
In 2008, we faced challenges quite unlike any that we had encountered before. Volatile market conditions made it more important than ever to ensure we met our customers' needs. Below we outline some of the key areas on which we focused our efforts in 2008.
Transparent marketing and selling
As a Group, we market and sell a wide array of different products and services. These range from life assurance and property and casualty insurance to savings and pensions. Ensuring we sell and market these products across the Group in an honest and transparent way is vital to building trust with our customers and retaining their business. This is reflected in our Responsible Business Principle that states that we will:
- Sell and promote our financial products in a way that is transparent and never misleading.
To ensure this principle is followed, each business unit has its own process for signing-off all external marketing and communications materials. For example, Old Mutual Financial Network in the US has an Advertising Review Committee that must sign-off all written and electronic forms of communication before they can be published. The guidelines it uses require, amongst other things, that all sources are cited, that testimonials are backed up and that details are not hidden in the small print. These sign-off processes at business unit level help us prevent the publication of material that could mislead our customers.
Preventing financial crime
We are committed to protecting our shareholders' funds and our customers' money from all forms of financial crime. The most important issues for us are preventing the Group from involvement in money laundering, fraud or bribery and corruption.
At Group level we have emphasised our commitment to meeting the challenge posed by rising levels of financial crime worldwide by expanding and strengthening our Group risk and forensic policies. In addition, many business units have taken an innovative approach to combating financial crime. For example, to help protect against card fraud, Nedbank provides confirmation of transactions to cardholders on their mobile phones. This contributed to a 26 percent decrease in card fraud in 2008, compared with an increase of 39 percent for the South African card industry over the same period.
To tackle financial crime effectively, our employees are fully informed about their responsibilities and the role they play. Business units across the Group provided training to employees on financial crime issues during 2008. In addition, a conference in November 2008 enabled business unit financial crime experts to share experiences and increase their knowledge with input from industry experts.
Volatile market conditions made it more important than ever to ensure that we met our customer needs.
Providing high-level customer service
Ensuring customers receive the best possible service from us not only helps retain customers, but also builds their confidence in the business. Below are some examples of initiatives we have taken in 2008 to improve the service our customers receive.
- Skandia-BSAM (China): To improve access to our services we set up a centralised customer service hotline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This enabled customers to obtain assistance whenever they need it
- Nedbank: To improve the coverage to our customers, in 2008 we formed a strategic business partnership with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the parent company of the Ecobank Group. This has given our customers access to a combined pan-African banking network covering 30 countries, including South Africa, with over 1,000 branches and banking outlets across the continent
- Old Mutual Financial Network: We employed a third-party company to evaluate and help improve customers' satisfaction with our call centres. This enabled us to develop new benchmarks, create an improved set of call scripts and start a new training programme for call centre staff
- Skandia UK: We helped improve customer service by enabling our financial advisers (FAs) and customers to learn more about the financial industry and the market. We used channels such as Skandia Magazine for customers, and Informer, a monthly publication for FAs. We also ran seminars and developed a website - informerLive! - targeted at FAs.