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Overview - Message from Group Chief Executive
Sanlam Sustainability Report 2011
Message from the Group Chief Executive
It gives me pleasure to present Sanlam's 2011 Sustainability Report which forms part of our 2011 integrated annual reporting. I encourage you to read this report in conjunction with our 2011 Integrated Report. Together, these reports provide a strategic review of our performance during 2011, and will assist you in making an informed assessment of our prospects for the years ahead.
Sustainability is an overriding objective for all of our activities at Sanlam. We are a long-term business, a business that is dependent on building and maintaining long-term relationships based on trust. I have great difficulty with those who choose to adopt a narrow understanding of sustainability, who see it simply as being about protecting the environment or promoting corporate social responsibility, and as something quite separate from core business activities. I have a similar difficulty with those who constantly push us in business to take short-term decisions and to maximise short-term returns, when often this would be detrimental to the long-term interests of our business and of our stakeholders.
We believe focusing on long-term competitiveness rather than short-term profit ensures that we do not borrow from the future. It is for this reason that our decisions are made in a manner that will keep the sustainability of the business intact. Hence, the theme of both reports is: "Sustainability through Responsibility".
Our commitment to long-term value creation is reflected both in our history – we have prospered for 93 years and we have fared well during the current financial crises – as well as through our five strategic priorities:
- Optimal capital utilisation:
- Earnings growth:
- Costs and efficiencies:
I firmly believe that because we have adopted a long-term mind-set, based on prudent management of our resources and the development of good relationships with our stakeholders, we have done well relative to our peers. Our prudent approach has paid dividends, particularly during the recent financial crisis, and I have no doubt that it will stand us in good stead in an uncertain future. Despite consumers being under tremendous strain, especially in the middle market, we have very good retention rates and a comparatively low number of complaints, an indication to us that we're doing the right thing.
when instead we should be interrogating the system as a whole."
- Johan van Zyl
While I am pleased with our performance over the past year – and with the various sustainability initiatives that we have taken and that are outlined in this report – I recognise that there are still some areas where we can do more. Although we have made great strides in fostering a more strategic appreciation of sustainability within our business, I believe that there remains scope for further integration of this thinking throughout our business. Similarly, I believe that while we have become a lot more vocal in terms of our investments with our own money – as reflected by our more active engagement with companies, which has seen us voting against proposals that we think are not in these companies' long-term interests – there are nevertheless opportunities for us to be even more vocal.
Looking to the future, I am concerned that as a country, and indeed globally, we are collectively undermining our long-term capacity to create value. I think we need to recognise that as an industry, we could play a bigger role in driving sustainability more broadly. Doing so would be to all our collective benefit.
Johan van Zyl
Group Chief Executive