Saks Ntombela would be the CEO of SA’s second-largest short-term insurer, Hollard Insurance, from October 1, the company said on Tuesday.
Ntombela, who is MD of Hollard’s life and investments division, takes over from Nic Kohler, who has overseen strong growth in the Enthoven family-owned company over the past decade.
His appointment as CEO will be welcomed at a time when transformation in the financial services sector is under scrutiny, following parliamentary hearings into the matter. The recent departures of Liberty’s Thabo Dloti and Absa’s Phakamani Hadebe were viewed as a setback for transformation.
Ntombela’s appointment will be regarded as a step forward. It comes following recent changes to senior leadership roles in the insurance industry, in which women have been appointed to top jobs.
In 2015, Lizé Lambrechts became the first female CEO of Santam, SA’s largest short-term insurer. Other senior appointments include those of Viviene Pearson, who was made CEO of the South African Insurance Association in January 2016, and Lizelle van der Merwe, who became CEO of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa in late 2016.
In 2017 Thokozile Mahlangu was appointed CEO-designate of the Insurance Institute of SA and will officially take over from David Harpur in January 2018.
Ntombela takes the reins from Kohler at a time when margins in the insurance industry have been squeezed by weak economic growth and widespread retrenchments.
“Despite the environment, we’re well positioned to grow strongly over the next three to five years, particularly in commercial insurance and in the lower-income segments of the life [insurance] market,” Ntombela, who began his career at Unilever, said on Tuesday.
He was managing executive of Nedbank Retail and later headed retail products at Absa before joining Hollard in 2012.
Ntombela’s banking experience will stand him in good stead as Hollard, which recently concluded the R1.8bn acquisition of the Regent Insurance Group from Imperial Holdings, looks to offer credit, savings and transactional products to the mass market.
Ntombela holds a BSc in mechanical engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and an MBA from the University of Cape Town. He has completed an advanced management programme at Harvard University.