Towering success

Towering success

With offices spread across East and Southern Africa, Britam is a successful and highly diversified financial group which aims to become the most trusted in its industry by gaining a reputation as a provider of quality. The company is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, and offers a huge range of financial services in insurance, asset management, banking, and property. 

Established in Kenya in 1965, Britam began offering home service life insurance. Since then, the business has grown into a leader in its sector, with an ever-growing geographical footprint that now extends past Kenya and into Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Mozambique, and Malawi.

Britam’s Chief Information Officer, Jack Maina, is proud of how far the business has come, and further describes its extensive product list: “We now offer life, health, and general insurance, pensions, unit trusts, investment planning, wealth management, offshore investments, retirement planning, discretionary portfolio management, property development, and private equity,” he says.

Britam invests heavily in recruitment to ensure the business is properly represented by the right people, Maina explains: “Britam rigorously applies the Balanced Scorecard, a management tool that measures and tracks employee performance. Last year, Britam became the first company in Africa to be inducted into the Palladium Hall of Fame for its work in executing strategy. The Hall of Fame honours organisations that have achieved outstanding performance using the Balanced Scorecard, as the framework for it was created by Palladium founders Drs  Robert Kaplan and David Norton.”

This human element of Britam is the most important part of a company which is always making huge technological strides, according to Maina: “At Britam, we see the success of the group as highly dependent on the quality of the human resource we have,” he says. “Our people are a powerful and important resource. We identify, recruit, retain, and invest in the best talent in the world. Our culture of high performance, innovation, and creativity is enhanced by our organisational structure that promotes free flow of ideas and communication that cuts across the level. Each individual has a key role to play towards our group mission and vision.”

Britam also cares deeply for the needs of the customer, constantly coming up with new products and services based on the heavily-researched needs of the industry: “We only launch our products once we are satisfied they meet the demands of the market. We acquire new business based on the strategic objectives of the company, the value the business will bring to our shareholders, the growing needs of the market, and research.”

The company is in the process of developing a customer service charter that will provide a framework for defining service delivery standards, the rights of the customers, and the handling of complaints, in order to make the company experience better and more fluid for all involved. The company prides itself on scrupulousness in all of its relationships, and considers itself ahead of the curve with regards to its affirmative attitude. 

“We’re building on honest and open working environments with those we deal with both internally and externally. We have done this by maintaining our positive integrity which enables us to assess the impact of our strategy and decisions that goes beyond increasing the shareholder value,” Maina says. “Management spearheads the initiatives that are always a reflection of professionalism, excellence, and a positive attitude. This flows down to all our employees.”

Britam’s key priority is its relationship with customers, employees, partners, and suppliers, and advanced technology goes hand-in-hand with that: “Britam is continuously developing new policies which offer optimum solutions to guide the implementation of new technology, corporate governance, and ethical standards in line with how we interact with our clients and business partners,” says Maina.

The company has introduced a new system to deal with its many insurance services; an ERP system powered by Oracle e-business suite. “The Oracle enterprise resource planning system has integrated finance, HR, property procurement, and inventory functions,” Maina explains. “It has developed a dynamic, robust management and regulatory reporting platform. It has also enhanced internal controls, improved operational efficiency, and ensured a productive and engaged workforce.”

Britam has now introduced a world-class line of business applications to manage operations of the insurance, pensions, and asset management businesses. It has also implemented an electronic document management system to support the line of business’s back-end operations, and self-service portals for its financial advisors, customers, and partners to use in executing their functions. 

The customer experience is further enhanced by an enterprise architecture framework: “This incorporates a service-orientated layer that provides efficient system integration capabilities,” Maina explains. “The EA framework provides a structured way of linking the technology and the business strategies. Adaptation of this has helped provide a customer-centric approach to the business. We are now capable of providing a single view of customers and suppliers, efficient processes through end-to-end integration from line of business to financial reporting, business intelligence and analytics, data quality, and integrity.”

The company’s integration is aided across both technology and business layers with state-of-the-art servers hosted in a secure tier IV data centre: “The branches and regions are connected through a robust wide area network platform with a built-in redundancy,” Maida explains. “At the business layer, we have implemented an ERP and we’ve also acquired a world-class line of business systems to support operations.”

Currently under construction is Britam Tower, which is being built in Nairobi’s financial hub, Upper Hill. It’s a commercial investment by Britam Holdings Limited: “Britam Tower is set to be completed mid-2016, and is a 31-storey building which acts as a flagship project for Britam’s property portfolio. It’s projected to be the most prominent building in the Nairobi skyline, and the third tallest building in Africa.”

The tower is the pinnacle of the company’s technological transformation, and will well and truly turn Britam into an icon within its industry. The business is now focussed on increasing its footprint in the region to become a truly Pan-African company, driven by its brand mantra – ‘One Company, One Brand’ – and its commitment to provide clients with great service and competent financial expertise.
“We strive for excellence in our business, guided by our values of respect, integrity, continuous innovation, and passion,” Maina concludes. Britam has been in the Kenyan market for 50 years, and as it celebrates its Golden Jubilee throughout 2016, the business looks ahead to a fruitful and ever-evolving future.  

Jack Maina