The advent and implementation of new technologies is seeing transparency and control of health, pensions and life insurance schemes being put back in the hands of the schemes’ members or policy holders.
Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings, says technology can enable the actual policy holders to own, manage and utilise the funds themselves, particularly where union-run or company-run funds are concerned.
MIP recently partnered with a large union-run medical scheme to provide the back-end system that enabled the medical scheme to effectively manage all areas of administration, from membership and contributions, to claims, internally.
MIP’s software solutions were designed to help large schemes, with thousands of members, collect contributions and pay benefits.
“By eliminating the middle man aspect, profits can be poured back into the right organisation’s pockets. MIP is seeing a big shift in the industry where unions are going to have to look at the services they offer, and do more than negotiate salaries, or fill in the odd form to justify their fees,” explains Firth.
He says the financial wellbeing of the base of individuals is a fundamental component of unionisation, and like brokers, unions are going to have to start disclosing and justifying their fees.
“Unions and brokers are collecting millions of rands in fees. These fees must be transferred to real service delivery in the hands of the union members. The dynamic of the ’employee union industry’ has changed dramatically. The unions are seeing a drop in membership, which is not only attributable to new unions coming to the fore, but also to members resigning membership as they are not really seeing value in return for their membership fees.
“Technology will change the value proposition for union members as the provision of financial services to the unions will become much more transparent.”
He cites the example of the provision of apps that are directly linked to the services of the members. These apps can communicate the exact value being delivered every month from loans, life insurance policies, funeral funds and general membership management. In addition, he says MIPs solution allows schemes to respond to their members’ requirements instantly, ensuring that all the data they need is available at the click of a button.
“In the insurance industry, we are seeing a need for simplified administration procedures, and faster, more innovative ways to access real-time information and save members time and money. MIP’s solution puts the power back in the hands of the members, and can simplify the collection of contributions and payment of benefits,” Firth says.