What do you do when someone close to you has a heart attack? For most people, the last person they would likely contact is their financial adviser.
When faced with exactly this scenario, a Liberty Corporate benefits customer whose husband was in the critical stages of a heart attack, picked up the phone and contacted her financial adviser, the one person she knew would: (a) pick up the phone, (b) understand the gravity of the situation, and (c) be calm enough in a frantic situation to summon the right kind of help.
The financial adviser, in a calm and rational voice, called the support centre offered as part of the Liberty Corporate services linked to their umbrella fund. An ambulance was immediately dispatched, and promptly arrived. The financial adviser remained on the phone with the client, keeping her relatively calm and updating her on the progress of the ambulance. Sadly, the husband died despite the very best medical help available. The family was very grateful when the husband’s life policy was promptly paid by Liberty. The silver lining was the counselling that was provided on the evening of the tragic event through the services Liberty offers as part of their umbrella fund.
This is one of several tales from the vault at Liberty Group, where financial advisers and the benefits offered by Liberty have significantly changed people’s lives.
“It may seem unusual to say you should contact your financial adviser in a crisis, but this is rather common in our experience. Your financial adviser should be a person of trust, who understands your life and your challenges, and above all, the journey of your life,” says Linda Schroeder, divisional executive for corporate sales and servicing at Liberty Corporate.
On another occasion, a Liberty customer was in a multiple car pile-up and was trapped in her vehicle. She had her Value Added Services card that all members of the Liberty umbrella fund get and immediately contacted the counsellors at the call centre. “The car in front was so badly damaged that the driver had to be extracted using the Jaws of Life,” says Schroeder. “The customer was in the car behind and was watching what seemed to her like a life-threatening event. The counsellor spoke to her throughout the ordeal and managed to keep her calm. Fortunately, she was rescued by the emergency services and survived relatively unscathed.”
Yet another story involves a company that was the subject of an armed robbery, leaving the staff traumatised and unable to work. Liberty dispatched trauma counsellors to help staff over the event so they could get on with their lives and return to work.
What has all this got to do with employee benefits?
It’s what Liberty calls shadowing employees on their life journeys. Employee benefits have historically been structured around products: investments, umbrella funds, consulting services, life insurance and risk protection such as death, disability and dread disease cover. Some products are better than others, with more options and different pricing structures, but they differ little in structure.
Liberty decided to venture beyond the silos of pure products to create an experience that was intimate and relevant to the lives of employees.
It embarked on a massive research project to assess the state of employee benefits and what came out was the need to educate and guide employees as they progressed along their career paths, got married, had children and faced the kind of financial setbacks that are part of parcel of every employee’s life experience.
It launched a programme called ‘Mind My Money’ aimed at educating employees on the basics of finance, budgeting and building prosperity. The programme has been astonishingly successful in building a corps of educated, informed employees. Schroeder points out that a financially educated clientele is far more loyal and informed on events that are likely to have a financial impact on their lives – such as changes in tax laws and the need to have a will.
“The first step in financial liberation is to be financially educated,” says Schroeder. “Our clients – the people who purchase our products and services – are the employers, but it is the employees who are the real beneficiaries. So you have to look after their interests first and foremost.”
In addition to educating employees in the basics of finance, Liberty took it one step further by partnering with an external professional service provider to provide its members, their spouses and their dependents under age 21 with much-needed telephonic assistance. These services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the member’s language of choice.
The professional counsellors are trained in a range of disciplines, from legal advice to emergency medical information and trauma assistance. Emergency ambulance services and body repatriation are also included.
“When you have a trusted adviser, you tend to rely on them for things that go way beyond mere financial products and employee benefits,” says Schroeder. “And that’s something we encourage.”
Brought to you by Liberty.
This article does not constitute tax, legal, financial, regulatory, accounting, technical or other advice. The material has been created for information purpose only and does not contain any personal recommendations. While every care has been taken in preparing this material, no member of Liberty gives any representation, warranty or undertaking and accepts no responsibility or liability as to the accuracy, or completeness, of the information presented. Please consult your financial adviser should you require advice of a financial nature and/or intermediary services. Liberty Group Limited is a Registered Long-Term Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FAIS No 2409).