Old Mutual plans more digital platforms

Samuel Matsekete

Old Mutual Zimbabwe, the insurance and real estate giant, says it plans to invest more in digital platforms as a way of getting to customers in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns as well as the encouraged physical distancing meant companies could not work from their usual work stations.

It also meant companies could not get easy access to their clientele base.

This has had an impact on business, and for Old Mutual Zimbabwe it could affect its business acquisition numbers.

“Although the business has been able to provide alternative digital platforms to meet customer demands, some channels of distribution, such as our intermediaries have faced challenges in accessing clients who have been confined to their homes.

“This has adversely impacted new business acquisition efforts,” said Old Mutual in an e-mailed response.

Parent company and Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Listed entity, Old Mutual Plc, also said it faced similar challenges in its other markets.

In a trading update published last week, the insurance group said its tied advisers have been unable to sell during the lockdown period due to the partial closure of the branch network and lack of access to customer’s homes, worksites and branches.

Interim CEO, Iain Williamson, said advisers who predominantly sell face-to-face through branches are still dependent on customer footfall.

“Many of our branches we have opened responsibly, but it is also dependent on which parts of the economy are open and whether worksites are available to advisers.  And where they are available, even there, the social distancing issues are still going to have some impact for a while,” added Williamson.

And with the face-to-face channels likely to experience a similar impact into the foreseeable future, Old Mutual Zimbabwe is planning to invest more on its digital channels.

“We are, however, confident that as we continue to invest in improving our digital channels we will be able to bring our products and services more conveniently to our valued customers,” reads part of the responses.

A lot more businesses are turning to digital channels as a convenient way to do business.

Local banks such as FBC Bank have since closed as many as five branches as they go digital.

The coronavirus and the emphasis on social distancing has accelerated the use of digital platforms to do business and have given companies an opportunity to see what activities can be practiced from remote locations.

Cellular service provider Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, is leading the way and expects that even after the lockdown is lifted, telecommuting will become its “preferred way of doing business for those functions and activities that can be performed remotely.” — ebusinessweekly.co.zw.