Insurance broker LifeSearch has set its sights on doing business internationally after launching a South African office in September.
The office has eight advisers and will initially provide advice and customer services to UK clients only, however it seems there is an appetite to provide advice in overseas markets down the line.
Emma Thomson, life office relationship director, said: “LifeSearch has international ambitions, but as yet no experience of operating internationally, so initially we plan to do what we know how to do well, from an overseas base that we also know well.
“Once that office is established and successful, we will ask that team to work out how we can continue to grow beyond the UK.
“When they’ve shown us how to do that, we will have a blueprint for expansion into other countries, and eventually other languages, although we have no concrete plans beyond these initial ideas yet.”
The South African office is LifeSearch’s fourth, as it also has bases in London, Leeds and Milton Keynes.
The Cape Town office will be its smallest branch for the foreseeable future.
The South African capital is the home town of Tom Baigrie, chief executive of LifeSearch, so there’s a personal reason for opening in Cape Town.
He said: “We first began seriously discussing the idea of expanding to South Africa in 2015 as it’s a place I know very well.
“Cape Town is a predominately English-speaking city and the university (UCT) has English as its first language and is well regarded internationally.
“Cape Town is also on a similar time zone to Britain and South Africa has a very strong history in protection insurance and it is where critical illness cover was invented.
“We plan to recruit over 50 advisers this year across our four locations… and though it will remain our smallest branch I do love that LifeSearch’s growth allows me to put something back into my home town.”
Thompson talked up the hotbed of talent in the country as another attraction.
She added: “There is a large pool of highly qualified and motivated young graduates in Cape Town for whom such a role is highly sought after, whereas in the UK, with a market that has close to full employment, we anticipate that we might face much stiffer competition for the type of people we like to recruit.
“It is also true that developed economies need to help grow jobs in underdeveloped ones for the good of humankind.
“We can only do our small bit, but that’s what we are doing.”
LifeSearch advises on life insurance, income protection, critical illness cover, mortgage protection and family income benefit