A stratigic architecture for a start-up short term insurer operating on mutual principles in South Africa
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research investigates the short-term insurance industry in South Africa in order to develop a strategic architecture for a new player to enter the market, differentiated primarily by operating on mutual principles. Mutual insurance is not something new and is widely applied across the world. However, in South Africa there is only one company that operates completely as a mutual. That company is known as the Professional Provident Society (PPS), and has been in operation since 1941. Although PPS operates completely as a mutual, it has only recently started to take part in the short-term insurance industry. Apart from them, there is no other short-term insurer that operates on mutual principles. In order to develop a strategic architecture, a thorough understanding of the industry and market was obtained by analysing the external and internal environments of short-term insurers in South Africa. The research is based on solid statistical data on all registered insurers, available from the governing body for insurers in South Africa, the Financial Services Board, as well as more qualitative data in the form of reports on industry analysis, performed by major auditors like KPMG and PWC. It also takes into consideration “cutting edge” approaches to starting up a new business, regardless of industry, through the application of the “Customer Development Model”, an approach based on lean and agile principles to mitigate the risk of developing a product / service at high cost before knowing if the market actually has a need or appetite for it. This research concludes by offering a strategic architecture and strategic implementation plan for a new player to enter the market, based on the analysis performed though the application of various strategic tools and frameworks. The primary findings of this research are that the industry is highly competitive, with longstanding ‘giants’ supported by parent companies. Those ‘giants’, however, all operate as stock insurers, and a transition by any one of them to mutual insurer, is highly unlikely. As mentioned, the industry currently only has one mutual insurer. This means there is really only one competitor (PPS) in terms of the profit sharing model and in that, PPS has a rather niche focus since its products are only available to graduate professionals. This research uses further external and internal environment analysis methods to extract industry information used in the formulation of a strategic architecture and business model for a new player to compete in the environment described above. It suggests that there is, in fact, room for a new player and that it can differentiate itself from stock insurers by applying the mutual model. It can further differentiate itself from stock insurers and PPS by expanding its market focus (i.e. not only for graduate professionals) and by utilising technology in productive and creative ways that encourages engagement with customers in a new way.