David Munro is a chartered accountant by profession. He graduated from the University of Cape Town and attended the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School. His area of expertise is investment banking, with an emphasis on emerging markets. While in Standard Bank, he focused on Africa, the BRIC countries, and natural resources. His exemplary work has not gone unnoticed as he gained recognition both locally and internationally for his contribution to investment banking in the African landscape. In 2009, he was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global leader.
David Munro was born in 1972. He obtained a diploma in accounting before enrolling for his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the same institution. He graduated in 1992. He also enrolled in a management program at Harvard Business School and completed it in 2003.
David Munro joined Standard Bank in 1996. In 2003 he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate and Investment Banking in South Africa. In 2006, Munro was appointed Chief Executive, CIB South Africa. In 2009, he was promoted to the role of global head, investment banking. In 2011, he was appointed Chief Executive CIB. Later he joined the board of Liberty as a non-executive Director in 2017.
In May 2017, Munro took over as CEO of Liberty Holdings following the resignation of Thabo Dloti. Dloti had been in charge for three years. He resigned after a disagreement with the board regarding the company’s immediate focus as it struggled under environmental and operational difficulties.
After David Munro moved from the parent company, Standard Bank Group, to Liberty Holdings, he overhauled the call center to simplify clients’ process to get assistance. He also made it easier for clients to reach out to agents and form closer ties. Liberty group has about 3,500 agents. He also reduced the number of funds Stanlib oversees and revamp the money manager’s leadership. Standard Bank owns a 55% stake in Liberty holdings, and the organization has struggled to make a profit.
Taking Liberty Holdings Back to Its Roots
When he took over at Liberty holdings, part of Munro’s mission was to take the company back to the principles of its founder Sir Donald Gordon. Sir Gordon is a businessman and philanthropist. He started the firm in 1958 after watching his father struggle financially after retirement. Liberty became the first listed South African insurer.
Subsequently, in 1965, it introduced its first mutual fund. But Liberty lost its glamour during the 2000s as customers canceled policies. This reduced its market share, and the company responded by implementing a strategy to cut costs, which backfired, leading to a loss of skilled workforce.
Munro was able to stabilize the business by identifying the important things that the organization needed to focus on to guarantee sustained profitability. He embarked on a digitization strategy to get the company into a more competitive position. This enabled the company to be more competitive with service delivery to brokers. This translated into a better customer experience.
Munro exited some businesses and markets, improved digital offerings, and improved the record of delivering returns for clients. Although profit margins on Liberty’s sales doubled, the share price lagged behind its competitors since Munro joined as CEO. Munro is looking beyond the stock’s performance in an attempt to reorganize the business. This is because it can no longer depend on double-digit equity and bond market returns to support its earnings. It is now three years since David Munro started in Liberty as CEO.
Taken to court by a competitor
Munro and his team had made inquiries into their clients’ preferences. They discovered that their clients loved to be rewarded for living healthy, though they had life insurance. The organization got to work on packaging a wellness bonus package for its clients. Discovery, one of their competitors, got wind of this information and took them to court for trademark infringement.
In April 2019, the Johannesburg High Court dismissed the case against liberty holdings. In its ruling, the court stated that the health data belonged to the clients and decided what to do with it. The insurer could decide to use the data to give rewards to their clients.
Victims of Data Breach
Liberty holdings suffered a data breach on June 14th, 2018. Unknown hackers copied data from the organization in a data breach. According to David Munro, the interests of customers were protected. This is because there are structures in place to mitigate risks to the customers. For instance, Liberty provides contracts of insurance and policies of insurance to its customers. These protect them. They also facilitate investment for their customers and invest on their behalf. These services were not affected as a result of the data breach.