#518: Rewarding Financial Wellness: The Evolution of Old Mutual Rewards

Brett Cameron is the Managing Director of Old Mutual Rewards.

Unlike many loyalty programmes, Old Mutual Rewards focuses primarily on incentivising members to take care of their financial wellbeing. With over 2 million members and a staggering 5 billion points earned (equivalent to R500 million / $25 million), the programme has made a significant impact.

 Notably, the programme isn’t exclusive to Old Mutual customers; it’s open to all South Africans and has recently expanded into Namibia with the commitment to offer practical solutions that help members achieve their financial aspirations.

In this captivating podcast, Brett guides us through the five-year evolution of Old Mutual Rewards, delving into prevalent topics such as fraud incidents affecting loyalty programs in the industry, the direct correlation between digitisation and programme engagement levels, and the promising future of Old Mutual Rewards.

Hosted by Amanda Cromhout

Show Notes:

1) Brett Cameron

2) Old Mutual Rewards South Africa

3) Old Mutual Rewards Namibia

Audio Transcript

Paula: Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, the Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Loyalty, and also now Loyalty TV. Today’s episode is hosted by Amanda Cromhaut, the Founder of Truth, an international loyalty consultancy, and the author of the book, Blind Loyalty 101 Loyalty Concepts Radically Simplified.

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Amanda: If not very often, we get the opportunity to interview individuals who’ve worked for an organization that is 180 years old. Brett Cameron is Managing Director of Old Mutual Rewards. Old Mutual Rewards launched in 2018 and is the rewards proposition for Old Mutual Limited. Being at the helm for five years, Brett has been able to talk us through on many of the innovations, the milestones, and the learnings. He talks us through the digital journey, some massive fraud issues they faced, a concept of financial wellness, and now their journey into retail banking. 

Last year, Old Mutual Rewards was recognized as a finalist at the International Loyalty Awards. Enjoy Brett’s interview. He talks through how loyalty and rewards are really game changers in an industry like insurance and financial services.

So Brett, welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty. We have Brett Cameron, who is Managing Director of Old Mutual Rewards. Brett, thank you for joining us again. 

Brett: Hi Amanda, thanks so much for having me. It’s fantastic to be back. 

Amanda: So frighteningly, it’s three years since you were last on the show when you chatted to Paula. It was episode 106, and that was in May 2021. And we’re now in February 2024. So what’s most exciting about that is we’ve got three years of development in  Old Mutual Rewards to ask you about. 

So before we get into that, cause I’m a particularly big fan of your program, as you know, but before we get into that, I want to ask you the famous, Let’s Talk Loyalty question. What is your favorite loyalty program? 

Brett: Aside from my own, there’s so many out there. One of the big fan of in the African markets is the Checkers ShopRite, Xtra Savings program. And, yeah, it first crossed my radar when we were doing our initial research. At that point, there was a brand that didn’t have a loyalty program, and they were never going to have a loyalty program, but the customers thought they did, and it stood out as a real lead in terms of doing things digitally. So when Checkers and ShopRite relaunched their program, I think two years ago now. Once again, they kind of really did some amazing things when it came to be, to building kind of really great digital experiences and yeah, I find myself often quoting and using them as an example or a case study or for some of the fantastic things that can be done for customers.

Amanda: Absolutely. We’ve actually had Meredith on the show. She was fantastic. She really shared with the listeners exactly what the strategy is behind Checkers Xtra Savings and ShopRite Xtra Savings. So it’s great that you’ve chosen them because We’ve highlighted them on the show as one of the really great programs and strategically very sound. So yeah, absolutely. And as you say, that digital transformation, not only in rewards, but as a South African brand serving Africa and the digital journey that on is super impressive. So thank you. Yeah. Great that you’ve chosen Checker as Xtra savings. 

So before we get into what I think is one of the most exciting rewards propositions to share with the global audience of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Let’s find out a little bit more, Brett, if we can, about yourself, because you’ve actually held the reins of Old Mutual Rewards since the day it started. That’s correct, right? 

Brett: Yeah, over five years ago. It’s been an interesting journey that I think many of us land up in loyalty as a career by chance, and it’s been a fantastic one to be part of. Yeah, so, I actually started out working as an actuary in an insurance company. And over the years, I guess I’ve tackled a few experiences that have become relevant to running a loyalty program. I spent quite a lot of time working in our distribution and sales channels where I was kind of creating and building the incentives to encourage the sales and distribution staff to work more effectively. And then from there I moved into a role where I was looking at customer retention. 

Amanda: Okay. 

Brett: Well, that’s one of our objectives that we talk about in the loyalty space. So I think somewhere between those experiences, somebody thought, Hey, this guy knows something about the skills we need to run a loyalty program. And they asked me to do it. And yeah, it’s actually been a fascinating journey. I’ve learned so much through it.  I rave now to my colleagues that I think I’ve always got one of the most exciting is one of the best jobs in the company because there’s always a new challenge. There’s always a new thing to think about. It’s a fantastic place to work. 

Amanda: Yeah. And I think the loyalty role actually, in most organizations can probably say the same, you know, you’re juggling so many conflicting and yes, exciting plates that are spinning, but let’s get into that in a short while. 

So, I think what should, what will be really useful for the listeners of Let’s Talk Loyalty is a little bit of background if you can, Brett, around Old Mutual as a company. I mean, it’s been around for a very long time. It’s extremely established in the African market, an incredibly impressive organization. So before we unpack old mutual rewards, could you tell us a little bit more about Old Mutual and its positioning and how long it’s been you know, super established in, not just this marketplace, but Africa.

Brett: Old Mutual, very well known in South Africa and I think across the African continent. It’s over 180 years old, was founded in Cape Town in 1845. So, very long, well established company. Started out as a life insurance company back then, but over the years, it’s developed into a very broad financial services company that serves all parts of the South African market. It doesn’t just do insurance these days, it does lots of savings, investments, we have banking products we work with retail customers, we work with corporate customers. We play many roles in financial services in the industry. 

And, you know, over the years, we’ve expanded to levels overseas and drawn back currently Old Mutual is, mainly focused on Africa. We’ve got some operations outside of Africa, in particular in China currently, and at times we’ve actually operated in Europe, North America, South America, all over the globe. I’m very focused on building an African financial services powerhouse at the moment. 

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. And it really is a powerhouse. Like it’s, needs certainly no introduction in this market. So thank you for that. I don’t think we’ve interviewed anyone on this program on this podcast. It’s 180 years old. I can’t say that factually is a hundred percent correct, but that’s my gut reaction anyway. So let’s jump straight in Brettif we can.

So Old Mutual Rewards launched in 2018. So remember last year celebrated its fifth birthday. So it’s no longer a new kid on the block. It’s well established. I think when we judge long term loyalty programs, we look at a minimum of five years. So that’s a good benchmark. So please explain to us all how it works. I think it’s, I find it a fascinating program proposition. So I think please share with everybody how it works, how many members and what are the big milestones that you’ve come through since 2018. 

Brett: It’s quite hard to build a loyalty program around long term insurance for life insurance, where you pay a premium, maybe once a month, you maybe speak to your financial advisor once a year or a couple of times a year, if you’re lucky and it’s quite a low engagement type of industry.

But for a loyalty program to work, it needs to bring in my mind, it needs to bring sort of more high frequency, high touch interactions. Otherwise, you don’t have that repetitiveness of behavior that really gets customers motivation engaged. So after a lot of thinking and speaking to customers, we built our program around helping them with their financial well being, their financial wellness, and it was something that stood true to our brand. It was something that Old Mutual stood for in, in our markets. It’s something we really support our customers with. Our customers trust us in terms of their, not just to provide the products that we take out, but actually beyond that, to help them with the financial future, helping them realize their financial dreams, their goals.

So, so that was almost a natural choice for us, but it then also led to us saying, oh, okay, financial wellness isn’t just about speaking to your financial advisor and buying an insurance product. It’s about all the day to day things that you need to do, to get into a better financial position, learning more about your financial situation, educating yourself, using tools to help you do things like budgeting, getting more insight into what your financial needs are, setting goals for yourself, working towards those goals. So it was this list of active behaviors that we could link into the program that caught in a lot of that engagement lens that we were looking for. 

Amanda: I mean, I particularly love the non-transactional activities that you have in the program into exactly as you just said around the financial wellness. I mean, I, we make a big feature of that in the chapter on non-transactional rewards in Blind Loyalty book, the loyalty book that you’ve supported. So because it really is unique the way you’ve done it and I think we’re going to unpack that in a short while. 

But he said when he started and that you’ve been at the helm for five plus years and that you’ve learned an awful lot along the way and I’m sure you have. Give it, give us one or two of your biggest takeouts of what you feel you’ve learned that we could share with others who are listening to this.

Brett: Sure. Again, I think what I know now, I think it’d be fantastic to go rewind five years and try and do things differently. But I remember, sure. One of our first experiences was also working with partners. We brought partners into our program for a similar type of kind of rationale. We wanted to make sure we brought sort of joy and excitement to our customers.

Financial services is quite serious stuff. We thought the rewards program could play that role of actually kind of balancing out the seriousness with a bit of probability at times, and even just being able to spend your points with something else than adding them to your insurance product. But so, but when we started bringing partners in the program, we approached quite a number, and the conversations were very short at that point.

So it was like, the first question was, how many members do you have in your rewards program? We’d say, well, none, we haven’t launched yet, but perhaps in this big organization, or Mutual’s got 5 million customers, and we’re going to do amazing things, and so come back and speak to us when you’ve got a few more customers on your rewards program.

So it was actually very hard to establish those relationships with partners, but It’s kind of what I’ve learned. It’s kind of just sticking to it, keeping those engagements up. The doors eventually open, and the opportunities to collaborate with other brands has been really fantastic as we’ve seen the growth. It’s now getting to a point where partners often come and knock on our door to get a couple of emails a day. Can we talk about a partnership here and a partnership there? 

And I think we’re also fortunate to work, you’ve been very much part of this, to work in an industry in South Africa, where the loyalty brands are starting to talk to each other very actively. So there’s a lot of partnering going on and I think the industry is an interesting space where the partners are looking at doing interesting brands, looking at doing very interesting things together beyond just saying, you know, can I create a little bit of extra value in your part program will give out your customers a bit of a discount. I think the deals that we’re looking at are going a lot further than that. They’re looking at how do we strategically create value for customers? How do we, collaborate on things behind the scenes like, like data insights and things like that. I think that’s one learning for me. It’s just talking about patience with partners and sticking it out.

Another one that I think has been important has been showing the importance of that engagement and customer experience. And it’s so important to the success of the program to just really distinguish yourself on how you interact with your customers and every interaction point to make it delightful. 

And it leads, I think, to some very hard choices, so we, sometimes you’re a bit constrained by the experience you’d like to create because of practical what the systems allow, what the partner’s customer journey is, or whether you’ve got all the data you need, and the more I’ve sort of worked with our program, I feel that we probably could have been a lot more strict with ourselves about accommodating some of the kind of exceptions that couple what we want to do from a proposition point in, but it’s not always come with a great customer experience and making sure that we do things in the way that really make customers. Just feel wow every time they interact with us is something that we want to hold strong.

Amanda: And obviously to do that, you have to have a solid systems architecture to pull that off because so much of what you try to put into the marketplace, as you say, you can’t always do what you need to do, or you end up doing something that matches the value proposition, but gives a clunky customer experience. But describe to us, Brett, the systems architecture that you have in place to actually pull off the Mutual Rewards program. 

Brett: Yeah, so that’s I mean, an interesting journey for us. And I think It starts a little bit within Old Mutual, but we run many people running financial services companies, I’m sure it’s true in many other industries as well, we start with a huge range of different systems.

I think some of the, just the number of administration systems we run in Old Mutual at one point was definitely more than 20, 30 or so. And you’ve got customers who exist on different systems. You don’t necessarily know that the customer on one system is the same as the same person on the other system.

It’s a really, can be a really messy environment. So, I think one of our advantages in setting up our program, Old Mutual Rewards, is that mutual have been developing its customer data maturity for quite a long time before we even started thinking about Old Mutual Rewards. And so there was a single place we could go to find out who the customer was and what interactions they had with our mutual and what products they held and things. So that was a key enabler for us to get going in the first place.  

And then I think it was working with a good partner on the loyalty platform side. We went through quite an interesting journey of choosing a platform provider. I kind of experienced in South Africa at that point is looking around the market. Many of the players have built their own loyalty admin systems in house. And that, that was one of the advantages of coming to the game a little bit later is that there were off the shelf loyalty platforms that we could purchase and set up and get running. 

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. 

Brett: And we ended up working with a Polish company called Camargo and the loyalty platform has been well recognized, well used globally. And coming from the Eastern Europe side of the continent was appropriately priced for us in the South African market. 

Amanda: Oh, fantastic.

Brett: So, I think they’ve also been a key part of our success. Getting things done. 

Amanda: Yeah. I am very aware of the relationship, your partnership with Comarch. Comarch is any stranger to the listeners of Let’s Talk Loyalty. They’re very involved in so much of the loyalty world globally. So thanks for sharing that. You did mention to me when we chatted before that you’ve managed to expand into new markets relatively simply because of the multi country capability, multi tenant capability. So that’s great. 

You as you say, over time, you’ve being able to look at the marketplace, realize maybe you didn’t want to build it yourself, get an external partner. That’s become your partner and working close partnership in this journey, and then be able to expand quickly because of their capability, which is really powerful to understand.

So talking about expanding into different markets. So you have ventured old mutual, pushed old mutual rewards outside of just South Africa. And also different customer segments. So, it might be worth sharing that. I mean, it’s a bit of a potential nuance, just the South African market, the extremity of customer segmentation, but in terms of affluence, but maybe it’s worth sharing with us, Brett, a little bit about that, the new countries you’ve gone into and your customer breadth you’ve been able to attract through the program.

Brett: Yeah, so let me talk about the countries first. I think that’s a very short journey so far. And we just took the first step on that at the end of last year by launching the Old Mutual Rewards program to Smart Beta. And as you said, it was something that was enabled a lot by the Comarch system. It was important to kind of extend the program as cost efficiently as we can.

Our businesses in Africa are often small businesses or in the case of Namibia, it’s quite an established business, but it’s a very small country and the amount of investment we can afford to make to set up a new program in each of these countries is limited. So we were able to do that with Comarch. Comarch system accommodates sort of, I think what they call multi tenants or multi country type programs. And within the space of a few months, effectively, we were able to get the similar version of the program up and running in the Namibia market. And I think it’s a really exciting milestone. They’re not that many loyalty programs running in Namibia.

And I think it’s going to be an interesting opportunity for us to actually really solidify our position in Namibia and the relationships that we have with our customers there. So we’ll see what the future holds in terms of other countries in Africa. We’re definitely keen to, to pursue others when the opportunity arises and hopefully build a fun African rewards program here in the future.

Amanda: Yeah, fantastic. 

Brett: But just to come to the other part of your question around customer segments. It’s yeah, also an interesting journey for us. I think spoken about Old Mutual being such a, an established financial services company in South Africa. We, as a result, deal with everybody in all walks of life from somebody who’s very low income to some of the highest net worth individuals in the country. 

And it’s difficult to build a rewards program that’s conserved the needs of such a broad range of customers. And, you know, I think that’s been something we’ve gone about fairly deliberately. So we’ve, when we started, we said, well, let’s not try to be everything to everyone. Let’s focus on a core audience of customers and make sure that what we build resonates for that group as much as possible. And then over time we’ve added to the proposition and extended the capability to make it more and more relevant for more and more of our customer base. 

And then another market that we’ve been thinking actively about is we are getting asked it often when it comes to financial wellness is extending to people’s families. Can we help their kids or their teenagers? What we did last year is identify a particular audience that we know is a good market for purchasing insurance. We know that when people have children and new babies, it’s often the point in people’s lives when they think, oh, I need to put some life insurance in place and start saving for their future.

And so we built a proposition that targeted new parents specifically and connected with some partners that could give them some additional value. Created a very simple enrollment process. We built a few things to really engage them as an audience. One of the things we did is create a special zone for new parents in a shopping mall that Old Mutual owns. That’s one of the, the sort of side parts of our business and see as a parent, you can come there and you can get a space to feed your baby or to get some support to be needed while you’re shopping. 

But I think the really interesting part of it is how it’s really just engaged a very useful part of our market and with a very simple proposition. We’ve created lots of engagement with customers at that point in time where it really just works. And we’ve then introduced these customers to our solutions and our life insurance and the sales that we’ve generated have been fantastic. Based on the amazing success of this, we were looking at seeing what more we can do to really engage this market of customers. This, in the coming years, we call it Old Mutual Baby Club, by the way. 

Amanda: Lovely.

Brett: So, it’s hopefully going to be something that we’ll put a brand around over the next year or two. One of the things we find ourselves thinking about is, is it something where we want to bring in more like random rewards? So do we think whether we want to give all our customers a hundred points for a certain activity, even if they can’t do that much with a hundred points, or do we make it a little more lumpy? So that’s, some people might get nothing, but one in every 10 customers gets a thousand points instead of a hundred points each, which maybe they can do a lot more with, and maybe that will be more relevant for those type of customers. So interesting value dynamics for us to think about. 

And then the other one is how to get the engagement going with the customers at that end of the market. We’ve started Old Mutual Rewards as a website based program, and we’ve developed a mobile app over time the last few years. But what we found with our lower income customers in South Africa is that tend not actually to want to download mobile apps onto their phones. They tend to buy more limited devices or less storage space and they don’t have space for downloading multiple apps. So the adoption of mobile apps has actually been a bit of a constraint. 

Amanda: Yeah. 

Brett: So last year we started building some of the redemption options out on our WhatsApp channel. And we’ve been amazingly surprise, but how well that part of our market has started using WhatsApp as their primary channel of engaging with us. So that’s something we’re looking at building out a little bit more into the future. 

Amanda: This is such a, like a hot topic at the moment. I mean, I’ve just done a webinar actually about what’s up in loyalty and it really is getting fantastic traction in, in different brands. And it’s great to hear you say that as well, Brett, because I think it’s, I don’t know if it is as widely used in all markets. I know in the UK and Europe, it’s definitely not used as much as we’re experiencing it here in South Africa. You said you’re getting the response, you’re getting engagement and we’re seeing a lot of other brands say the same.

So I’m really, really pleased you’ve shared that with us. You did share a lovely stat, if I could repeat it with us when we were just chatting about today’s interview. And you said, when you started, you had a hundred thousand customers of your total database of millions of customers. And now you’re up to 50 percent are using digital channels. Is that, have I articulated that correctly? 

Brett: Yeah. So as a mutual mutual has been traditionally a very financial advisor based business. Most of the customer interactions were through financial advisors. I think over time we built up call centers and people tend to phone us still to this day. I think we got rid of most of the fax machines. There might be one or two fax machines. But we’re very keen to work with customers digitally. It’s a modern experience. And I think it’s been one of the successesOld Mutual Rewards is that it’s played that role for the broad organization to get customers to engage with us digitally.

So, and one of those steps was to get them to create a basically login profile where they could log into our systems. When we built the rewards program, we deliberately didn’t use a different login system to the rest of the company. We had one shared set of credentials. So when you join the rewards program, you’re automatically unlocking all the other digital servicing channels we have available to our customers.

And yeah we started up when we started on mutual rewards or mutual at about a hundred thousand users who could access Old Mutual digitally. And now, yeah, I think it’s about 50 percent of Old Mutual brought a customer basis, everybody on the rewards program, because it’s a very digitally based rewards program.

And beyond, beyond just having that login profile, we’ve now been, Driving the take up and downloads of our mobile app. So we found when we didn’t have the rewards program embedded in it, and you can see your policy values and what markets were doing. It wasn’t enough reason for customers to download our mobile app but building, building the rewards program in there and all the features that brought, and even just being able to come in and see your points balance and see how it’s growing from day to day that’s brought that engagement and has given customers reason to put on Mutual’s mobile app on their phone. 

Amanda: How fantastic.

Brett: I think the opportunities that gives us. It’s fantastic, yeah. 

Amanda: How fantastic that rewards has led that journey for the broader group. I just think that’s a fantastic story. So thanks for sharing. That’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. 

So, so, to a little bit more serious stuff and not that digital journeys aren’t serious, but I know you’ve had your own experiences in the Old Mutual Rewards journey around fraud. It’s a hot topic that I particularly enjoy talking about. In fact, one of your team members, Willem really raise the awareness of fraud in South Africa. And with his help, we’ve established a fraud discussion group with multi-branded individuals who come together to discuss loyalty fraud in a non competitive environment. What would you say has been your biggest fraud challenge over the five years? 

Brett: Well, I don’t think it’s anything unique to us specifically, the loyalty industry, I think, is one where fraud is always a pervasive issue that somebody, we need to keep thinking about. And it’s an interesting kind of psychology with customers, because I think there’s a view that, oh, loyalty points aren’t real money. So like, yeah, and you almost incentivize to abuse them as much as possible and find out the rules of the program that work most in your favor. But definitely some groups of customers who will step over the line and get to the point of trying to actually deliberately kind of abuse the system and hack the systems and steal points if they can.

And I kind of compare it to running a casino. It was like, there’s always somebody out there trying to defraud you. Some people are honest gamblers and others are not so honest. You need the pit boss on the floor. He’s got the eye out for what’s going on. I think yeah, all loyalty programs need to have their pit boss who’s thinking about things.

No, I’m for us. Sure. I think it’s come in, you’ve got to keep your eye open to so many different lenses. I think the thing that we’ve been most attuned to is people trying to create fictitious, what I call fictitious profiles. 

Amanda: Yeah. 

Brett: And the attentiveness around doing that is, is amazing sometimes. And I was thinking, you know, what are the ways we try and prevent fraud is just being aware of what’s been happening in our systems, but it’s also just being aware of what’s happening in the market outside and the latest stories and trends that we’ve been working on implementing more customer verification systems when people create accounts or try and log into their profiles.

And the modern technology around these things is what they call liveness verification. You’ve got your cell phone’s camera and it scans a video of your face and it can compare you to your ID photograph and make sure that you are not just who you say you are, but you’re actually not just a picture in front of the camera, but a real live person.

And as soon as we thought about building this, I picked up on the story of one of the banks who was talking to their customers about, hey, beware of the latest bit of fraud. We’ve got people approaching people at shopping centers and telling them they’ve won competitions. And if they can just take a selfie of them on their phone quickly they can give them the prize. But what the force is actually doing is not taking a selfie. They’re using the facial recognition features to access people’s bank accounts. 

Amanda: Terrifying.

Brett: And that’s, it’s amazing just how inventive people are. And just staying ahead of the game is really something that needs to be done in the first place.

Amanda: And obviously it’s not unique just to financial services. As you say, it’s everywhere in loyalty. And I think you’re with a partner, as you say, with Kevin. I’ve got a lot of experience in this. So I’ve heard a lot of stories about how you’ve worked with them to tackle some of that. Thank you for sharing. I actually approached Paula today to suggest we did a podcast on fraud. So I think that’s a really powerful discussion we need to have on the show. 

So one of the things I really, there’s two more questions about the program that you’re running that I particularly personally enjoy because I don’t see a lot of other brands doing this. So the first question I’ve got is an observation and then it’ll become a question is, I don’t, it’s worth sharing with the audience that you allow non Old Mutual customers to be part of Old Mutual Rewards. And that might seem like a strange strategy, like, goodness, why would you do that? Why would you pay for the cost of running a program when there’s a percentage of customers who aren’t even customers of your mother brand or Mutual? So what is the strategy behind that? And what has been your success factors and conversion rates and so forth? 

Brett: Yeah, that was an interesting choice for us early on. And it’s, I think it’s paid off really well. When we started, I think the traditional model in financial services rewards programs is, you know, have a bank account or product with the organization before you can join the loyalty program and made us think, is that what we want to do? Do we want to do what everybody else is doing or take a different approach? And it led us to think, well, actually, anybody has any interaction with us as a brand, there’s a customer of ours or a potential customer of ours, so they might not have a product yet. But they might buy one down the line. So, let’s treat them fairly when it comes to the rewards program.

I think one of the, one of the stats I remember somebody quoting was, Oh, Mutual sells short term loans as one of its products. And the dynamics of the lending business is you don’t necessarily lend money to everybody who asks for a loan. Turned on quite a lot of applicants and we had about half a million customers that we were potentially rejecting for loans every year and we thought, well, we’re building a financial wellness rewards program. Why not allow those customers and potential customers to engage with the financial wellness aspects of what we’re doing and to get motivated through the rewards points that we can offer them?

Amanda: Yeah. 

Brett: And if they do engage, then hopefully they’ll turn into a future customer who can get on top of whatever debt arrears they might’ve had, manage their finances better and become a much better customer for us in future.

So, out of that insight, we said, yeah, let’s just, let’s open it to everybody wants to join. Let’s give away some value the people engage with the financial wellness activities. It’s, let’s let them earn rewards points and spend those rewards points and actually feel what that value is like. And hopefully that’ll build a relationship with Old Mutual.

If you turn them into better customers and we’ll see them actually become customers of ours down the line and it was a leap of faith for us, but it’s paid off quite well. And probably about 10 to 20 percent of the new members who join our program or not yet customers of Old Mutual. And we’ve been quite effective at then getting those members to deepen their relationships with us over a period. So, it’s become a nice little acquisition channel for Mutual. 

Amanda: It’s fabulous. What a great story. And I’m sure there’s so many folks listening to this who run organizations like, like within the insurance or financial services environment, thinking like, goodness, it feels counter intuitive. It feels like, as you say, you had to take a leap of faith, but actually it makes complete sense. You’ve got folks applying for loans with you getting rejected because of their potential credit scorecard. And yet, they’ve shown an interest in your brand. So you’re keeping them in the ecosystem. 

I loved our discussion prior to which you’ve just described. So in summary, it was around, you know, financial wellness allows individuals to earn rewards and then hence be engaged. And then the acquisition of them into the Mutual brand is so much easier. So I really understand how that cyclical process is working for you. And I think it’s a real lesson for folks listening of a different way of thinking about it. 

Brett: Yeah, it’s been a great journey. I always talk about insurance is sold to customers and not bought between. You found engaging our customers around their financial well being and giving them the insight they need. When they eventually speak to a financial advisor, they’re actually well informed. They know what questions to ask. They know what solutions they’re looking for. It actually makes the financial advisors, the salesperson job a whole lot easier because they’ve got a well informed, well motivated customer in front of them. So it definitely helps, definitely works. 

Amanda: And they’ve got a customer who’s already got hopefully a positive experience of Old Mutual. So already half the battles won, right? 

Brett: Yeah, i think.

Amanda: So, I mean, I think the important thing as well is to recognize that last year Old Mutual Rewards was recognized in the, by the International Loyalty Awards. You were one of the finalists. So, you know, you’re not just creating waves here in South Africa, you’re definitely being recognized on the international stage, so it’s really great to see that. 

So the last question I have is that Old Mutual as a company has recently or last year announced its venture into retail banking, which is a big announcement given the, you know, as you said, the company’s 180 years old, and later on in 2024, you’ll also be a retail bank. So I’m sure that’s a huge milestone and a huge milestone for Old Mutual Rewards because that’ll change your playing field and interaction times and you know, ability to work with your customers on transactional behaviors as well. 

Brett: Yeah, Old Mutual’s relationship with banking has changed a lot over the years. I mean, at times we’ve had to big strategic investments in net banking in South Africa, and we currently, I talked about our lending product, which is getting to the banking market, and we also run a bank account called the Old Mutual Money account on a, on somebody else’s banking license. So it’s going to be exciting. Getting more fully into the banking game and getting our own world mutual branded bank operational. 

I’m not sure what I can say and can’t say about it, but to talk generically, I think bank is an amazing part of a loyalty program to have. So I think the opportunities, it’s kind of presents for Old Mutual Rewards are going to be fantastic. Think it’s the nice, one of the nice things that brings a whole lot of extra value. And particularly when I look around the South African market, I think the same is true globally as is the banking programs often provide some of the largest amount of value back to customers. And to add that on top of the value we’re already giving is really going to make us meaningful in the lives of many of our customers. Um, and then not too hot, but the, just the technical capabilities, having a bank account to the payment capability and what that allows us to do with partners, I think is also going to be fantastic. 

Amanda: Yeah. Yeah.

Brett: We, most of our partners have been. What I’d call bird partners, where they earn points on the Old Mutual Rewards program based on the customers of mutual product holding, but then they spend them with our partners.

I think what a bank is going to allow us to do is to look at the bigger picture of where the customer is spending their money and I hope that we’ll be able to get some partners also see the opportunity in collaborating with us more deeply so that they can use us as the mechanism to incentivize customers to use their brands.

So the mechanic, the mechanisms that the bank can bring, I think it’s going to be really interesting. It’s going to bring us different ways of people’s earning points, different ways of spending points. It’ll bring us different insights into our customers that I think we’d be able to leverage when it comes to working on their financial wellness as well. So, I’m very excited around the prospects that this new bank will offer for us in the rewards program. 

Amanda: Absolutely. It’s super, super exciting. I already think there’s a lot to talk about and a lot to reflect on of the success of your program so far. And now this coming in the next, well, this calendar year. So thanks for sharing that. I know there’s not a lot of information out in the market, but they, your company Old Mutual has announced its venture into the market. So it’d be remiss of us to not touch on it. 

So I think if anyone wants to get hold of you, Brett, we suggested they could reach you on via LinkedIn. So I’ll put your LinkedIn profile link in the show notes as well. So from myself as a last question, is there anything else you feel we’ve missed that is burning in your brain that you want to share with everybody? 

Brett: I’m sure there’s lots we can talk about for hours and hours, but I think the, I’d like to just end off by saying it’s just thanks to you and to Paula and the role that you play in the industry. I think the Let’s Talk Loyalty podcast has really been an exciting one to listen to over the years. And I’ve learned a lot over the many episodes and different ideas that have been presented. It’s really a fantastic initiative and Amanda to yourself, great to see you playing a role as a host, but also the role that you play in this African loyalty industry.

I think the industry needs its leaders to help build the industry around the people who are doing jobs like me and other people who run the rewards programs and people like yourself and Paula I think play a really fantastic role in helping us develop as a community in South Africa and no doubt globally.

Amanda: Great. 

Brett: Well, thank you for that. 

Amanda: I appreciate your kind words. And it’s a pleasure. I get to work with fabulous leaders in loyalty like yourself. So yeah we spend a lot of time behind the scenes, not just on Let’s Talk Loyalty, talking about loyalty. So I appreciate you being so you run towards the industry, Brett, not everyone does that. So it’s great that you’re so willing to share everything. So from everybody at Let’s Talk Loyalty, thank you for coming back on the show. Almost three years later. So maybe in three years time, we’ll have a totally different story to share with everybody. So thank you so much. And we will chat to you again soon.

Brett: Thanks very much, Amanda. And thanks to all your listeners. 

Paula: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty Newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com. And we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms. And of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.