We compose this newsletter at the time when we are wrapping up the first quarter of the year and, as such, have started taking stock of what we have achieved as an organisation to date in comparison to our plans. This is also an opportune time for us to reflect on the societal developments in general in the country. One important observation in our view pertains to the academic sector and the institutions of higher learning in particular.
The ABSIP National Executive Committee (NEC) echo the Minister of Higher Education and Learning, Dr. Blade Nzimande, in his applause to college and university staff and student leaders for ensuring the successful commencement of the 2022 academic year. The positive development in this important sector bodes well for the rest of society and is a sigh of relief as we all continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.
ABSIP Bursary Fund
We are pleased to report to our members that we have had a successful relaunch of the ABSIP Bursary Fund through a partnership with our valuable corporate member, STANLIB. An open, transparent and thorough selection process was followed to identify 12 deserving bursary candidates from various universities who will receive comprehensive funding for the 2022 academic year.
The 12 shortlisted candidates were first approved by the ABSIP Bursary Fund Committee, which comprise of various ABSIP portfolio chairpersons, to ensure that fair and appropriate internal processes were followed. Subsequently, the STANLIB External Bursary Committee ratified the recommended candidates after satisfying themselves with the processes followed by ABSIP National Office.
In addition, through ABSIP Young Professionals, we have presented a funding opportunity to previously disadvantaged students who wish to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce or Higher Certificate in Business Management at NewBridge College in Durban. The applications are still open and accessible here.
ABSIP Student Chapters
The ABSIP Student Chapter Committee guided by the NEC has been hard at work since late last year to strategise and plan for the relaunch of the ABSIP Student Societies across all the universities in the country. We are proud to report that to date, ABSIP Student Chapters are active at 13 universities, most of which have held their activation campaigns and opening events which were supported by our corporate members and partners Absa; Foord Asset Management and AEON Investment Management.
The focus will now shift to outstanding universities in line with our objective of having full ABSIP representation across all universities in the country.
ABSIP has noted the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s Draft Strategy for promoting financial sector transformation and is in the process of reviewing the proposed approach and plans contained in the document. We acknowledge the importance of this avenue; accordingly, we are also consulting with the broader constituency to gather the views and contributions from all corners and stakeholders in the financial services sector as we prepare a response to the proposed strategy.
Recently we issued a call-out to our professionals and entities in the sector to join the ABSIP Thought Leadership Network (TLN), a very important structure through which we carry out our advocacy mandate. The TLN is currently working on ABSIP’s submission and recommendations in response to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) draft strategy for promoting transformation in the financial sector.
The invitation to join TLN or contribute to the FSCA’s submission paper is still open, and we invite participation from all corners of the sector. Please contact Thule Mhlanga via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Competition Commission has released a Practice Note for promoting competition and inclusion in Supplier-panels. This follows the conclusion of the Commission’s investigation into complaints about anti-competitive conduct pertaining to Supplier Panels of Banks and Insurers. ABSIP is currently engaging with the Competition Commission to explore and devise an approach that will result in meaningful engagement between the Commission and the affected financial institutions in response to the proposed solutions and measures contained in the Practice Note.
The collation and draft phase of the Township Economy Imbizo report has finally been completed. The document contains a summary of the engagements and key insights that emanated out of the four-part Imbizo series that ABSIP facilitated in the second half of last year in partnership with Industrial Development Corporation, sister organisations, other industry bodies and business leaders. The final report will be circulated to all stakeholders in the next coming weeks.
ABSIP Networking and Events
The ABSIP Women in Focus (AWIF) hosted a virtual Budget Speech review session on the back of Minister Enoch Godongwana’s maiden budget speech presented on 23 February 2022. We had an all-female panel comprising of:
• Mampho Modise – Deputy Director-General: Public Finance Division at National Treasury
• Mpho Molopyane – Economist at Rand Merchant Bank
• Boitshepo Ndlovu – Behavioural Economist at Fourteenx
AWIF also hosted a hybrid book review event with the objective of shining a spotlight on the book titled ‘Building Capital, a history of Asset Management in South Africa‘ written by Muitheri Wahome. Twenty women physically attended the event in Sandton, and others followed the proceedings online.
The session kicked off with Muitheri Wahome narrating the summary of the book with impeccable eloquence. She highlighted certain aspects covered in the book, starting from the rich history of the conception and the infancy phases of the South African financial services sector right through to its current state. Muitheri sought to highlight the pioneering and leading role, on a global scale, that certain South African citizens, and institutions played as far back as the early 1900s.
Through the theme of her speech, ‘our history is instructive’, the room was reminded of the capability and talent that lies within all of us and how such talent and skills should be applied to protect the current stature of the sector and, more importantly, to ensure its growth for the greater benefit of our country. In highlighting entrepreneurs such as Sir Donald Gordon and Allan WB Gray and the long-standing financial institutions that they have built-in conjunction with the world-class state institutions such as the South Reserve Bank – Muitheri sought to relay the instructive nature of this history such that it can inform the future thereof.
Thereafter, Fatima Vawda took to the podium to share her practical experience through the founding of her now well-established asset management company, 27four Group, of which she is the Managing Director. This very interactive session morphed into a general discussion about improving women’s representation through pending regulatory and legislative changes such as the revision of the B-BBEE Scorecard, Financial Sector Conduct Authority interventions and changing the corporate culture.
ABSIP Professional Development and Learning
To tackle the challenge of lack of female representation in the financial services sector, AWIF arranged and facilitated a Female Portfolio Manager webinar on 22 March 2022. This was an open engagement session, in the form of mentorship and guidance, amongst young women aspiring to become portfolio managers and those who already occupy those positions.
Nomonde Zwane, AWIF President, moderated this interactive session, and the panelists were:
• Unathi Loos – Portfolio Manager at NINETY ONE
• Thembeka Sobekwa – Portfolio Manager at Mianzo Asset Management
• Mahlatsi Molokomme – Lead: Infrastructure and Project Preparation Financing at the Office of the South African Presidency
Some of the key takeaways from the session were the insights shared by Mahlatsi Molokomme around the progress, developments and opportunities in the infrastructure space, together with the future outlook of this fast-growing segment of the financial services sector.
Please save the date for the 2022 Asset Owners Symposium scheduled to take place in Johannesburg on 4 May, then Durban on 5 May, and the last leg will be in Cape Town on 6 May. This is a sub-sector forum specifically targeted at bringing together Pension and Retirement Fund Principal Officers, Chief Investment Officers and Asset Management firms to discuss specific issues of diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector.
This is an in-person event, and the programme will be standard across the three days to achieve continuity of the topics between the panelists at the different locations.
Membership Lifestyle Benefits
The ABSIP NEC is pleased with the positive response to new membership portal, ABSIP Connect. The membership activation campaign is well in progress and the adoption rate has been satisfactory thus far, and that confirms the seamless and interactive nature of this platform.
The ABSIP Connect portal is a comprehensive platform for our individual and corporate members alike to enjoy the various membership benefits; communicate and promote products and initiatives; advertise job opportunities and access business leads.
As we continue to execute on our strategy, ABSIP has partnered with black-owned establishments that exude black excellence in terms of quality, service and branding. This partnership has enabled ABSIP to introduce lifestyle benefits to its members, associated with the membership fees. ABSIP members in good standing stand to benefit as follows:
For more details and to register for the upcoming events, or to join and become an ABSIP member, please visit www.absipconnect.com