Clientèle celebrates 30 years

September 2022 – When Bruce Howard and Brian Benfield established Clientèle Financial Services in 1992, they knew South Africa’s first direct distributor of life insurance products was destined for big things. But it’s unlikely that they had any idea of just how big their business would become, or what a significant positive impact it would have on the lives of millions of South Africans.

Three decades later, Clientèle Limited is one of the fastest growing Insurance Group’s in South Africa and the group has evolved into one of the country’s most loved and respected diversified financial services brands. According to Group Managing Director, Basil Reekie, that stellar growth has been the direct result of Clientèle’s innovation-led solutions backed by an unwavering commitment to sincerely caring for its clients’ wellbeing.

“While Clientèle is still a relatively young financial services organisation by comparison to some of our competitors, we are immensely proud of our achievements from the past 30 years,” Reekie says, “and we are even more proud of the positive impact that we have had on the lives of our steadily growing base of loyal and trusting clients.”

Reekie says that it is this unique combination of innovation and genuine care that has enabled Clientèle to grow from a business with a handful of staff selling its Lasting Dignity Plan via a call centre and direct mail, to a diversified financial services provider providing cover to a few million lives.

But Reekie is quick to point out that Clientèle doesn’t measure its success in terms of the number of policies it has sold, but rather in the positive difference it continues to make in the lives of its clients, employees, business partners and shareholders. “We are very proud of the fact that our clients know that they can rely on us to be there for them in their times of need,” he explains,” as evidenced by the R5 billion in benefit payments that we have paid out over the past 30 years.”

The Clientèle business model has also proven to be highly resilient over the years, allowing the business to provide its growing employee base (currently standing at over 3,000 employees) with more than R6 billion in salaries, benefits and awards, and having paid over R4.5 billion in dividends. It has also positively impacted the futures of more than 130 young South Africans thanks to the R10 million it has provided in funding for tertiary studies through its Clientèle and IFA bursary scheme. 

And Clientèle hasn’t only made a positive difference to individuals and families across South Africa, but the group has also contributed to the success of the thousands of IFAs (network marketers) which it sees as indispensable business partners. Since Clientèle created the IFA Business Opportunity in 1998, it has paid almost R3 billion in earnings, bonuses and awards to its growing network and thus significantly changed lives for the better.

Reekie is adamant that this is only the beginning for Clientèle. “Over the years, we have enjoyed steady industry recognition and managed to rack up an impressive number of firsts – from being the first insurer in SA to distribute products via network marketing, to being the first insurer in the country to waive waiting periods on funeral claims during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he points out.

“In 30 short years, Clientèle has grown to the point that our group now has an Embedded Value of around R6 billion, which provides us with a strong foundation on which to build our organisation, taking it to even greater heights going forward,” Reekie says, “and with the continued support from our shareholders, the passion and commitment of our dedicated employees, and the ongoing loyalty and trust of our client base, we are confident that there is no limit to what we will achieve over the next 30 years and beyond.”