Building Communities 101: The story of Santam and Sanlam
In December 1917, a small group of Afrikaners and a Scotsman met in the Royal Hotel in Cape Town to discuss the formation of a company which would later prove to have a major impact on South Africa’s economic history.
The Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Trust en Assuransie Maatskappij Beperk (South African National Trust and Assurance Company Limited), Santam, was registered on 28 March 1918. It was then decided to convert the life assurance department into a separate company, and the Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Lewens Assuransie Maatskappij Beperk (South African National Life Assurance Company Limited), Sanlam, was registered on 8 June 1918. Sanlam, the subsidiary, later became the spearhead of the operation, while Santam remained focused on short-term insurance.
Despite the tough early years Sanlam showed a small profit at the end of its first year, declared a bonus and continued to grow consistently from there.
Santam remained the controlling shareholder until 1954 when Sanlam became an independent mutual life assurance company, as well as the largest single shareholder in Santam.
Over the years, Sanlam’s focus gradually shifted from traditional life insurance to providing a broader range of financial products and services. In 1998 Sanlam demutualised, listing on the JSE Ltd and the Namibian Stock Exchange. This changed Sanlam from a mutual entity into a public company with a share capital, namely Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd. At the same time a separate company, Sanlam Ltd, was installed as the parent company of the Sanlam group of businesses. The Group was also restructured into several independent businesses within a federal business structure.
Today, Sanlam is a diversified financial services provider with an extensive product offering catering for all market segments. The Group has consistently grown its local as well as an international footprint – it now has a presence in more than 10 African countries, India, Malaysia, Philippines, the UK /Ireland, the US, Switzerland and Australia.
Sanlam has grown from being a life insurance company to include a number of financial services offered by the company. Sanlam provides financial products to both institutional and individual clients, providing a range of services such as:
Short-term insurance (through Santam)
Savings and similar products
Property asset management
Capital market activities
Like the short term insurance offered by Santam, many of the above listed services are offered from business entities that are mutually dependant within the Sanlam group.
In the short-term insurance sector, Santam has a market share of over 22%, focusing on commercial, corporate and personal markets.
Santam has an asset accumulation of over R17 billion as the leading short term insurer in South Africa. Santam has set up a high tech contact centre to serve the whole country and has over 650 000 policy holders. Santam also extends its scope to include other African countries such as Malawi. Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania. There is also a subsidiary group in which Santam hold strategic investments, Santam Namibia Ltd. in Namibia.