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In the financial planning space, meaningful interventions and models of assistance are required if the industry, so critical to the future success of a savings culture, is to survive and flourish in years to come.

Jaco Coetzee, general manager of Sanlam Financial Advisers, believes a significant part of the solution lies in the industry’s ability to ensure the economic viability of financial planning practices so that they may service a broad spectrum of clients.

It is in this area where a ground-breaking partnership between Sanlam and the Association of Savings and Investments (ASISA) are starting to deliver results through the Sanlam-ASISA Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme.

Launched in July 2013, the programme focuses primarily on developing small businesses in Sanlam’s supply chain while building capacity within the company’s distribution network. “By assisting financial planners and their practices, the programme is starting to prove its worth as it is impacting on the viability of financial planning practices and contributing to the transformation imperative in Sanlam’s business as well as in the industry,” says Coetzee.

During the recently completed first phase of the programme, practice management training was provided to 55 financial planners across six regions to empower them with practical business knowledge and toolkits in order to develop their businesses. Most of these planners are previously disadvantaged individuals. Advisers with the potential to develop their practices into BlueStar businesses – Sanlam’s unique financial advice dealership model – received training in basic business principles over a one-year period.

“We wanted to empower talented financial advisers to own and run their own business, and thus stay in the industry,” says Coetzee. “This of course contributes not only to industry sustainability, but also to economic growth and job creation.”

Another project forming part of the Sanlam-ASISA ED Programme was focused on providing specialist business development support to 20 financial planning practices linked to accounting firms in a business collaboration programme. The aim was to maximise the strength of the relationships between the financial planning and accounting businesses. In the process, 141 jobs were supported, and 28 new jobs were created.

“For a financial practice to grow, its client base is of the utmost importance. The programme is assisting advisers to cement long-term relationships with their clients. But it is not only beneficial to clients – it is also ensuring the future of our financial advisers by allowing them to build equity in their own practices,” says Coetzee.

In the next phase of the Sanlam-ASISA ED Programme, to be concluded in July 2015, a further 40 financial planners will undergo practice management training, and 10 financial planning practices will receive business development support. “We need to assist and empower advisers to not only survive, but flourish. Their practices need to be viable and stable to enable them to provide services of the highest quality to all market sectors in South Africa over the long term,” he concludes.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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