Business

Avbob AGM reveals group is well-positioned for further growth

The Mutual Assurance Society’s set multiple records in all three of its operating units — insurance, funeral services and manufacturing — during the 2021 financial year

Avbob donated a container mortuary such as this one to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, in May 2021. Pictured is Vusi Dladla, Gauteng provincial area manager at Avbob. File photo.
Avbob donated a container mortuary such as this one to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, in May 2021. Pictured is Vusi Dladla, Gauteng provincial area manager at Avbob. File photo.
Image: Antonio Muchave/Sowetan

As Africa’s largest Mutual Assurance Society, which provides a one-stop funeral insurance and burial service solution, Avbob has been operating on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group’s staff have experienced first-hand the bereavement of countless families and communities across SA.

It’s within this context that the group presented its results for the 2021 financial year at its 70th AGM on November 17 in Midrand, Joburg.

Avbob delivered exceptional results for the year under review, setting multiple records in all three of its operating units: insurance, funeral services and manufacturing. It also won numerous awards (see below).

“The 2021 financial year was unprecedented in many ways,” said Avbob chair Jannie Venter. “The Covid-19 pandemic and associated regulatory responses created a volatile and rapidly evolving operating environment. Apart from the economic and environmental impacts, the loss of life has been devastating.”

In response to the hardships and challenges brought on by the pandemic, Avbob Funeral Service provided free funeral services and products worth R497m to its members during the past financial year. 

It also provided free personal protective equipment worth R18m to its undertakers and frontline staff conducting funerals.

“We placed increased focus on our digital transformation journey and on employee wellness and support,” said Venter. “The business is well-positioned for further growth in a new post-Covid-19 paradigm.”

Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet.
Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet.
Image: Supplied/Avbob

Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet said the group invested in its distribution channels by providing financial support to its employees who were unable to sell policies during the hard lockdown in the last quarter of 2020.

The group also invested in the development of digital platforms to enable intermediaries to sell policies with limited human contact.

“These investments paid off significantly as evidenced by record sales production across all our distribution channels,” said Van der Riet.

“Our funeral service and manufacturing operations again exceeded all our expectations and the personal commitment of our teams, dealing with increases in monthly demand of up to 300% at the height of each wave [of Covid-19], cannot be overstated.”

During the year under review, the group generated a profit before transfer to policyholder liabilities of R4bn.

Of this, R3.7bn was set aside for the future enhancement of member benefits in line with Avbob’s unique shared value mutual model.

Avbob’s 2021 financial year at a glance

Highlights:

  • Premium income increased 9.6% to R5.2bn.
  • New business annual premium income increased 44.9% to R1.9bn.
  • Policyholder benefits increased 42.2% to R2.7bn.
  • Total assets increased by 32.3% to R28.3bn.
  • R3.7bn was set aside for the future enhancement of member benefits.
  • Statutory solvency cover ratio maintained at 2.6 times.
  • The number of policyholders increased to 2.4-million and the number of lives assured to 7.6-million. 
  • The number of funerals conducted grew 45% during the year.
  • R41m was invested in training interventions.
  • R96.7m was paid to members in respect of their Avbob Reward Accounts.
  • A container mortuary was donated to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
  • The 57th container library in a series of 60 pledged was donated to a primary school in the Western Cape.
  • The Tears Foundation, through their partnership with Avbob, assisted 99,039 victims of gender-based violence.
  • The group maintained its level 2 B-BBEE contributor status; it employs 96% African talent and has a female staff complement of 70%.

Awards and achievements:

  • Winner of the Funeral Cover category in the 2020/2021 Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey — July 2020.
  • PMR.africa Diamond Arrow 2020 award in the category Business Sector: Funeral Service and Insurance KwaZulu-Natal — August 2020.
  • Industry Winner in the Funeral/Burial Services category in the 2020/2021 Ask Afrika Orange Index benchmark — October 2020.
  • Gold Winner in Die Burger’s 2020 Jou Keuse (Your Choice) competition, in the category Best Funeral Service in the Western Cape — October 2020.
  • The Avbob Poetry Project and Avbob’s partner agency, the et al Group, won leader awards in three categories of the Assegai Awards — November 2020.
  • In November 2020, the group was certified as a Top Employer through the Top Employers Institute for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Winner of The Funeral Cover category as measured in the 2020/2021 Ask Afrika Kasi Star Brands Survey — June 2021.

This article was paid for by Avbob.