As we reflect on the past, we realise how far South Africa has come as a country and how much Liberty has achieved over the last six decades. In September 1957, 26-year-old Donald Gordon established a new life assurance company in South Africa with capital of R84 000. The following year, Liberty Life was registered as a company and sold its first policy.
Liberty pioneers assurance in the 1960s
- Liberty Life becomes the first life assurance company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
- It introduces the first retirement annuity products in South Africa.
- Liberty Life introduces South Africa’s first unit trust with the concept of life insurance benefits linked to these unit trusts.
- Liberty Asset Management (Libam) is launched.
- As the decade comes to an end, Liberty’s total assets top R10 million.
Liberty enters a period of acquisition-led growth in the 1970s
- Liberty acquires the South African operations of the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company of Canada, and control of Real Estate Corporation, a major South African-listed property company.
- It acquires the South African life insurance operations of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.
- The Donald Gordon Foundation is launched to manage the company’s social responsibility.
- Liberty Life introduces the Liberty Property Bond series of policies.
- Construction of Liberty’s property flagship Sandton City begins in 1972.
Liberty goes international in the 1980s
- Liberty Life lists on the London Stock Exchange.
- The new Liberty Life Centre corporate headquarters are opened in Braamfontein.
- Through the first share incentive scheme in South Africa to include all races, Liberty Life staff are eligible to acquire a minimum of R2 000 worth of shares in the company.
- Liberty Life increases its stake in Standard Bank to over 21%.
- The VIP Lifestyle Retirement Annuity Policy is launched.
- In 1987 Liberty Life turns 30 and premium income exceeds R11 billion.
In the 1990s Liberty’s innovation is a force to be reckoned with
- By 1992, Liberty Life is ranked the fifth-largest company in South Africa in terms of market capitalisation on the JSE.
- The Liberty Life Foundation is launched.
- Liberty introduces Blueprint, the first computer-based financial needs analysis platform.
2000s: Half a century of exceptional assurance
- Liberty Life rebrands to Liberty.
- Liberty sets up operations in six sub-Saharan countries, including Botswana, Namibia and Nigeria.
- In 2007 Liberty turns 50.
2010s: 60 years of innovative solutions
- In 2015, Liberty Evolve reaches its R4 billion milestone within its first year of launching.
- Liberty launches two market firsts – Agile and Bold retirement solutions with the Exact Income Fund and High-Water-Mark Guarantee.
- Liberty concludes the largest property deal in Africa, with the launch of Liberty Two Degrees in 2016.
- Liberty launches Stash – a mobile app that encourages everyone to save.
- Liberty turns 60 on the 10th of September
The decade is still not over and there are many unknowns ahead. But one thing is certain: Liberty has been through it all and will continue to deliver the products and services our customers have become accustomed to.