Today I attended an event where Sanlam revealed its research findings regarding the gaps in financial planning amongst South Africans.
The results were really insightful. But it was the delivery of this insight that was truly impressive. This was the press briefing of all press briefings at the forefront of the 4IR and it was in this that I really stood back and marvelled at the creativity of the marketing team.
Sanlam: Life of Confidence
The event was called Sanlam Life of Confidence and indulged their attendees to look at life as if it was lived out in the space of a day. How did they manage to achieve an illustration like this? By creating their own universe, of course.
The event unfolded in the company’s metaverse – on a platform called Monaverse.
We – the financial journalists – were invited via email a week before with the request for our delivery address.
The day before the event, Sanlam sent us a box with a 5-course meal – all individually packaged and labelled with instructions.
Now as we tampered with this box in the build-up to the event, we quickly learned that each of these meals represented one of the decades in a person’s life, and Sanlam used this meal to illustrate the difference in financial needs that a person needs through each decade and how making the right financial decision in one decade sets up an individual for the next decade of life.
A pie that they called ‘the garaged pie’ represented the 20s. “Everyone remembers the garage pie days – huge circles of friends, loud music, money is tight but the freedom is priceless. Piling into a garage for a budget-friendly pie at all hours of the day and night,” the card attached read.
The financial experts explained that they understood that this was a time in a person’s life where their studies ended and their careers began. Sanlam described this time as the decade with the biggest impact in one’s financial life – advising that time and compound interest was on a person’s side.
The second meal was a summer salad, chosen for the focus 30-somethings place on their health and exercising. The institution acknowledged that health food was slightly more expensive but was something 30-somethings could afford now that they salaries were inching hire. The financial experts advised that starting with financial planning was crucial at this time.
The third meal was butter chicken and roti – representing the 40s. “The 40s are a juggling act,” the explanation card read, “Balancing parenthood, financially assisting other loved ones, rocking your career – bonds, school fees, security, groceries. Life is hectic. But when you cook, you make sure it is tasty, nutritious comfort food for the pickiest of eaters”. As such, Sanlam saw the 40s as the years where retirement plans and plans for your child’s tertiary education need to set in place to make sure there was enough to take care of everyone when they time came.
The 50s were represented by fancy cheese, crackers and biltong. “The kids are about to love out but your parents are about to move in.” The 50s were seen as the enjoying of the sunset years, as individuals prepared for their retirement packages.
Over 65 years was represented by tea and cake. “The sweet smell of retirement,” the card read. It was the time you were allowed to live life at a slower pace and enjoy the afternoons with tea and cake with your loved ones. The years you could thank yourself for the financial decision made in the past and really enjoy the fruits of your investment.
Entering the metaverse
Sanlam sent us the link to join the metaverse at around 12pm.
We were able to create avatars and walk to the stage area, complete with a massive screen where the presentation took place.
It was encouraging to see that a non-banking financial institution was utilising AI to its greatest advantage. As our avatars sat together, watching the presentation, now with the knowledge from the night before of what financial planning in life should look like throughout the decades to financially secure one’s life, we discovered something quite eye-opening.
Sanlam revealed that a survey of more than 5000 South Africans revealed that the nation was not making the right money moves at crucial life stages.
Attendees were encouraged to wonder through the metaverse where a number of concerning findings were revealed through the graphics of the different arenas.
For instance, only 10.3% of 18 – 24-year-olds surveyed had a retirement product; with only 17.6% in the 25 – 29 age group having the same.
“Unfortunately, this means the vast majority are not taking advantage of compound interest and tax breaks linked to saving for retirement,” Sanlam explained. The were a number of reasons for this.
Cost of living, unemployment and settling for lesser salaries were some of the reasons individuals in age-group chose not to plan for retirement. Most of them were just trying to make it through the week and did not have a vision for their sunset years.
It was also found that overall, only 41.3% of respondents have life insurance, with under a half (49.4%) of 40–44-year-olds (49.4%) and 45–49-year-olds (47.8%) having life insurance.
The study also found that providing for education, leaving a legacy, and even being able to buy property came in as a lower priority across all age groups than paying off debt and making ends meet. “This indicates that South Africans are living largely on the backfoot, rather than being focused on financial provision for aspects of life that build wealth and success,” the financial advisory firm said.
A view of the future
While Sanlam offered journalists a view of the future, it was clear that the future was a direction that very few South Africans were looking in.
But the metaverse – with its appeal to 20-somethings who are into gaming and are great subscribers to technological advancements – offered a ray of hope in that it might provide the sort of financial literacy and education with these creative and clever illustrations that the average South African needs in order to relook at their lives and their financial plans. And the great thing is, it targets those South Africans in the crucial years – where they need to develop a sense of consciousness towards their finances the most.