Daniel Pender, founder and Chief Executive at, insurance distributor Reviti tells us if there is anything he would have done differently?
What do you currently do at reviti?
I’m the CEO of reviti, having developed the concept and founded the company in 2018. We’re a new start-up insurance distributor with an exciting proposition for people; rewarding them for positive change. Our starting point is to encourage people who smoke to quit and to reward them with lower premiums for doing so.
My responsibility is defining a vision for the business and helping people fulfil their potential to deliver the things we need to bring that vision to life. I take great pride in working to get the best out of people by encouraging, coaching, being pragmatic and realistic, setting collaborative goals and finding ways to meet them. Without doubt, it’s a lot of hard work but very rewarding and fulfilling at the same time.
For me, ‘Chief Executive Officer’ is better described as ‘architect’ and ‘communicator’ as my role is ultimately about designing solutions to problems and working with my brilliant team to implement them.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
reviti was born out of my own frustration with the way the majority of life insurance companies work – where a price for the customer is defined on ‘day one’ of the relationship with them and generally remains the same.
That’s the way insurance has always worked – and actually, it’s a model that works nicely for insurance companies but I think it could work better for customers. This inspired me to try and approach things differently. Our policies are very competitive in the market and this price is guaranteed for the term of the policy. However they do reward customers who make positive life changes.
For example a smoker who quits could see a reduction in their premium of up to 50%. Being dynamic in this way creates a win-win for the customer and the provider. The customer is rewarded with lower premiums for their positive life changes, and the provider benefits knowing that the individual poses less risk. This is a more human-centred design and I think is where insurance needs to be heading.
We launched a few months ago with a focus on encouraging the smoking and vaping communities to make better life choices, but this is only the start of the journey for reviti – we intend to use the same approach to reward people for making more positive choices in other areas of their life.
Who do you admire?
Despite the fact that they beat us in the Rugby World Cup final, it’s actually two South Africans who I admire. The first is Adrian Gore, a South African businessman and entrepreneur. He is the founder and Group Chief Executive of Discovery Limited which is the parent company of Vitality.
He was an actuary and was the first in life insurance to set out a model where people can improve and be rewarded for it. The second person is Elon Musk.
He’s an out and out entrepreneur, and with the Tesla and the electric car, he’s created one of the biggest ever transformations of an industry sector. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says but you simply have to take him as he is. He doesn’t care what people think of him and I admire his entrepreneurial spirit and everything he has achieved.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
As a CEO, I guess it’s stereotypical to say but I try not to live life with any regrets and always attempt to look forwards, not back. Life is one long learning curve and so far I’ve had the good fortune to work with amazing people in my career from whom I’ve learned a great deal. However, it wasn’t until a fair way into my career as an actuary that I realised my risk appetite was higher than that of most people around me – including those I was learning from. I realised I was being guided by people who, whilst brilliant at what they did, were considerably more risk averse in their choices than I was. So, in hindsight I’d like to have branched out as an entrepreneur at an earlier stage. Would my path still have led me to reviti? Who knows? But one important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that there’s never a ‘right time’ to jump in and start out on your own. If you try and wait for the right time, you’ll be waiting forever.
What defines your way of doing business?
I like to think that my way of doing business is very simple. It’s about building and nurturing relationships. I pride myself on the consistent feedback that I get about being authentic – it’s a quality I search for in others. Ultimately, I’m a very straightforward person but I love solving complicated problems and empowering the team to deliver the solution.
Ultimately, what drives me is knowing that doing this has a positive impact on society as a whole and that we can make a difference as a team.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
If you’ve got a great idea, you must believe in yourself to deliver it, but it’s also important to recognise when a good idea is actually a good idea. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have a good idea because people are polite or positive about it.
Ultimately, you only know you’re onto a winner if people want to put money into it and if people are chasing you down to give up their jobs to be part of it. Good ideas see positive actions from other people. When you see other people gravitating towards your idea, that’s a great sign and that’s when you should back it all the way.