Our heritage

Our heritage, a look into our past
Our story, watch it unfold View Download

Our story

Like most great stories, ours has humble beginnings. A Scotsman, named John Fairbairn, started the Mutual Life Assurance Company in Cape Town, with no capital, just the trust of like-minded individuals and an unwavering belief that together, people can achieve more than alone.

What's in a name?

Not long after Fairbairn started the mutual society in 1845, another life assurance society also appeared in the region. Fairbairn's mutual society had, by this time, established itself as a constant in peoples' lives; providing real benefits to its members. It didn't take long before people started referring to the mutual society as the Old Mutual - acknowledging the role it had come to play as an innovative provider of security: a true friend that rewarded its clients with financial stability in uncertain times.

Where did the Old Mutual logo come from?

With a reputation for reliability and trust firmly established, Board chairman and local artist Charles Bell penned the now familiar three anchor logo design 25 years later. He drew inspiration from the Cape of Good Hope symbol which featured one anchor, and explained that the Old Mutual logo represented the mutual strength that was to be found when people came together to invest in Fairbairn's mutual society. His choice of three anchors overlaid upon each other represents the strength that is to be had in numbers, and speaks of our belief that - when it comes to investment and wealth creation - the sum is greater than its parts.

From small beginnings, great things grow

Old Mutual prides itself in its innovative approach to providing considered, market-leading solutions that preserve and grow the money that our customers entrust to us. Our early history is rich in heritage and industry defining milestones, and our growth is intertwined with that of South Africa - where our story started. With a constant focus on growing our business, we acquired companies such as Mutual & Federal and Nedbank and have remained at the forefront of technology and policy related matters to ensure the highest levels of flexibility and service - despite adverse economic conditions.

Growing beyond our borders

Following Old Mutual's public listing on the Johannesburg stock exchange, we followed with a core listing on the London Stock Exchange, and listings on the Zimbabwe, Malawi and Namibia stock exchanges in 1999. A period of global expansion in a number of international markets followed, with notable purchases around this time including the acquisition of United Asset Management in the USA, and Skandia - a Scandinavian life insurance company that operates internationally.

165 years on, we remain focused on our founding principles

True to the spirit of John Fairbairn's original intentions, we remain committed - more than a century and a half later - to helping people create positive futures for themselves and their families. As part of the Old Mutual family you are able to reap the benefits of many years of wisdom; a priceless asset that we are proud to share.

Key dates of our history

Established in 1845, we have been serving our customers needs for over 165 years. View our key history dates below, listed by year.