In 1935 a Lloyd’s contract was arranged by a London-based insurance broker called Price Forbes for Johannesburg-based Emile Levy and Company Limited, in which Price Forbes then acquired an interest. By 1950, this interest had increased to 100% and by the early 1980s, a combination of two primary shareholders – Price Forbes Sedgewick and Alexander & Alexander – came together in the form of Alexander Forbes Financial Services, following which that name was adopted by the Alexander Forbes group in 1999, which recently (re)listed under that name on the JSE last July.

The journey from 1935 has been eventful, but it has always been characterised by one important thing – a desire to think outside the box, to do things differently, to innovate and improve, to find ways to serve our clients better and, in doing so, enrich their lives. Many companies make claim to such innovation and thought leadership: few actually deliver on it.

We believe this imprinted drive to innovate and serve – a kind of Alexander Forbes thought leadership DNA, if you will – has made Alexander Forbes the client-centred financial force it is today, serving institutional and individual clients, employing 4 111 colleagues, turning over R7.2 billion.

But what has brought it here? What has allowed Alexander Forbes to survive the challenges of those eight decades? It is simply this: At each critical point in our country’s socio-economic history, the people at Price Forbes and Alexander Forbes stood back, paused and then made an innovative call on what needed to be done to take the company forward. In doing so, they created milestones that plot a path forward from the past to a future of great potential. And we believe this year’s annual report should celebrate that path – that DNA.

Those milestones have included the creation of new financial products (such as cell-captive insurance) and new financial services platforms (such as multi-carrier life schemes). Other innovations include our new, state-of-the-art, sustainable home at 115 West Street. Another milestone was listing on the JSE to bolster our future strategies. There are many more examples of such intrepid and innovative forward thinking – milestones that we should commemorate.

That thought leadership DNA continues to this day. It is what ensures that our clients’ lives are positively impacted by the service we provide… that their peace of mind and financial well-being is secured, now and into the future. That is what we do; it is what we have always done; and it is what we will continue to do to make our company great for another 80 years…