Zamara Kenya, formerly known as Alexander Forbes East Africa Ltd is one of the largest pension administrator in Kenya. It serves about 160,000 Kenyans which 1/3 of all pension membership in Kenya. The firm has a diversified product portfolio that includes financial services which include pension schemes, insurance consulting, death and disability benefits and healthcare benefits among others. The pension administrator continues to provide innovative products aimed at satisfying customer needs.
“We rebranded to Zamara following amendment of the Kenya Retirement Benefit Act that now restricts foreign ownership in a pension fund administrator not to exceed 40%. Alexander Forbes (South Africa) stake in Zamara now stands at 31.3 per cent.” says Sundeep Raichura, Group Chief Executive.
Zamara will continue offering the Post-Retirement Medical (PRM) plan that enables employees between 18 to 55 years contribute funds for medical purposes. This has closed the gap of aged people lacking funds to cater for their health as they age. Research shows that most people struggle with poor health at old age and require special attention.
With these changes, Zamara is keen on innovating cutting edge products so as to remain competitive in the financial services industry. Some of the steps the firm has made are availing pensions and insurance for SMEs and the retail and medical solutions for these markets. Zamara is also improving its
mode of delivery by investing in the IT industry. The company launched a mobile application where the clients can view the status of the pension funds. Investment in IT will bring about automation, efficiency, greater control, reaching clients and clients reaching Zamara, this will be a distribution channel. Implementation is in progress.
The pension scheme coverage is very low in Kenya, despite having a progressive pension scheme model. Less than 50 per cent of employees in the formal sector are in the pension schemes. Ideal target of pension funds is 75 per cent
“There is need to rethink our pension funds models. They are competing priorities other than saving for retirement such as housing, education for children thus driving the need to expand the pension schemes. This may need amendment on legislation to include also housing, education needs.” Mr. Sundeep Raichura noted.
“Let us not focus on the end journey, let us focus on the journey itself. Let us look at financial wealth being more holistically.” he adds
Remarkable growth has been seen in the retirement benefits assets in the last two financial years. An increase of 3.3per cent was noted which was Ksh25.9 billion. Despite the currency crises in 2015 and drop of the shilling value in 2016, Zamara reported improvement of revenue and profit margin. However, the 2017 political turmoil made the firm report lower revenue than projected.
“This applied to almost all industries in Kenya. The market was fairly fragile with investors withdrawing some of their investments from the Kenyan economy. Despite the uncertainties the firm has secured new businesses wins in 2017.” adds Mr. Raichura
The new contributory pension scheme for government employees enacted in 2012, will make the pension fund be the fastest growing fund in Kenya, when the governments implements the funded pension scheme program. This new schemes is for the new and current employees below 45 years. Expenditure on public pensions has been increasing every year.
“The innovation products which are a marketing tool for Zamara are; use of the mobile app, the medical business introduced new covers for SMEs. Bamburi products users can now access a new medical cover at a subsidized rate and personal pension plans; they have introduced a couple of well received changes.”
Mr. Sundeep Raichura is confident of building a business that is respected for quality services, powering prosperity by offering innovative pension, insurance and medical solutions in Kenya and across Africa.
“What inspire the choice of the word Zamara is simple, fresh, authentic, truly African and it embodies a new way of presenting ourselves to the world.” he concludes.
Here below is an interview with Zamara Kenya CEO – Sundeep Raichura