Hello everyone

The last few days of August give us the opportunity to highlight women in finance, women who are making a difference, the need for women to put their health first and that truly diverse teams produce better outcomes in all spheres. Look out for Janina Slawski the first female president of ASSA (2003), Sharon Paterson, CEO of Infiniti Insurance Limited, Cheree Dyers, CEO of Prescient and Nicole Martens head of stewardship at Old Mutual Investment Group in this week’s newsletter.

Sharon Paterson speaks about insurers being in the “eye of the storm” and how transformation on all levels is the only way to respond ethically in meeting the constant global and local challenges.

Collaboration (or strategic alliances) is a key theme for this week, which the BRICS summit exhibited by extending membership of the bloc to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates who would help expand its global influence.

What Bloomberg Economics Says… 

“The original BRIC members had two things in common: large economies, and high potential growth rates. The expanded BRICS-11 is a less coherent group — some are going through crises, others are thriving. This could signal an expansion of the agenda beyond economics.”

— Ziad Daoud, chief emerging market economist

India is the only member of BRICS to have outperformed other emerging markets and China, as a much more mature economy, has been described by Bloomberg Intelligence as facing a structural slowdown. We delve deeper into what could be causing the slowdown.

Not in this edition due to paywalls, but something to watch closely are petroleum giants Shell and Total in their search for fields off the coast of Namibia, which could make it the world’s newest petrostate. What will this mean for the region with a decline in demand for fossil fuels?

In the context of the previous MM, where it was pointed out that financial services sometimes helped corruption, watch out for the latest in the Sekunjalo saga involving Mercantile Bank, Standard Bank and Access bank. Ann Crotty’s recent article gives you an update if you or your institution has a subscription to the Financial Mail.

Please read the South African Actuary, the second edition for this year which is freely available here, and don’t forget the About YOU section this week.


MM Editorial Team


Economic matters

China’s economy is trapped in a downward spiral that authoritarian regimes are doomed to repeat

China is suffering from “economic long COVID,” Adam Posen wrote in Foreign Affairs.

Its sluggish post-COVID rebound may be a long-term trend, said the Peterson Institute’s president.

Like other authoritarian regimes, China’s economic development is following a predictable pattern, he noted.


A perspective worth noting in terms of the global economy. 3min read


South Africa in deep financial trouble

The National Treasury revealed that South Africa recorded its largest budget deficit since at least 2004, sending the rand crashing and lowering demand for government bonds.

2min read

BRICS expansion warning: Democracies diluted; rogues’ gallery silenced by China – Dr Christopher Sabatini   

President Ramaphosa expressed support for the expansion, stating that it will represent a group of nations with a common desire for a more balanced world order.

Dr Sabatini questioned the viability of a common BRICS currency, asking how a common currency can be created among countries that have shown little currency stability. He also said there is a need for trade protections for certain industries in peripheral BRICS economies to prevent them from being locked in providing raw materials to China.

A radio interview of 22 mins.

Six new countries invited to join BRICS — See interactive world map

Interest in joining BRICS has soared in recent years, with over 20 nations having formally applied to be part of the bloc. Several other countries including Comoros, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have informally shown an interest in doing so.

To view the map, you will need to sign up, no payment or obligation. Visually the bloc makes an impact.

Financial Services Industry

Through the Eye of the Storm

Transformation, not as a destination, but a state of mind in the approach to everyday business. Actualization in transformation is at the heart of how we lead, how we trade, how we manage, how we live and indeed – how we insure.

This is a different angle on transformation, deeper and more ethical, although the areas insurers need to transform are well known. 5min read

Draft guidance notes for banks and insurers on climate-related risks and disclosures

Mirroring other leading financial sector regulators across the globe, South Africa’s Prudential Authority (PA) has signalled to banks and insurers that it is time for them to consider and integrate climate-related risks into their business practices, strategy, and management and disclose climate-related risks.

Please read this article. Key takeaways:

  • banks and insurers are expected to treat climate risk as a financial risk rather than merely a reputational risk event
  • the insurance industry plays a critical role in the management of climate-related risks

5min read

Insurers Blacklisting Areas Due to Climate Impact: Lessons for South Africa

In this interview Bill Klehm, the chairman, and CEO of eBliss, discussed a pressing concern in the insurance industry – the practice of insurers blacklisting certain areas in the United States due to climate-related impacts.

The conversation highlighted the challenges brought about by climate change, the changing risk landscape, and the role of government in creating a sustainable future. While the focus was on the U.S., the interview holds valuable lessons for South Africa.

The interview was conducted by South African, Tony of COVER Magazine. 22min

Janina Slawski – interview with Lydia Mutepfa

A focused high achiever, moving from humble beginnings to leading with passion and humility.

 A ten minute inspiring read which can be found on page 39 of the latest South African Magazine.

Diversity and Inclusion

Thanks for the breastfeeding rooms, but can we have some assets to manage?

The industry is struggling to attract, retain and promote women. It’s time to take a moment to stop patting ourselves on the back for making life a little more comfortable for the handful of women at the table and focus our efforts instead on getting more women into the room. There are some compelling reasons to do so.

3.5min read

Diverse investment teams lead to far better investment outcomes

As organisations and businesses globally start to adopt and implement the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to mitigate some of the world’s biggest challenges, there is a strong case to be made for the correlation between diverse investment teams that include women portfolio managers and consistent performance.

This is not a simple case of men versus women or any other demographic. Interesting read based on latest research.  3min read           

How gender inequality is hindering Japan’s economic growth

Japan’s economy is under pressure from rising energy prices and defence costs and the impact of the pandemic. Plummeting birth rates and an ageing population further threaten the sustainability of its labour market… Gender inequality is another significant pressure point. Research shows that a gender-inclusive society and workforce leads to innovation and economic growth.

This is worth reading as the writer unpacks how change can be effected if policy is adopted across society and in all companies and institutions. Culture is the hardest thing to change. 4min read

Santam, FAIRLADY and TRUELOVE announce finalists for the 2023 Santam Women of the Future Awards

These annual awards celebrate the exceptional achievements of women across various fields, recognising their determination, innovation and outstanding contributions.

Inspiring, 3min read.

Life Insurance

Living annuities: Helping your clients understand the impact of different drawdown rates

A new white paper on living annuities and the impact of drawdown rates, based on a study of 20 000 anonymous living annuitants, has been published by retirement income specialist Just SA.

This article provides the evidence to show how even an increase of 0.5% can make a material difference to income longevity. 5min read

General Insurance

Will insurtech disruptors topple insurance giants?

In an opinion piece released this week, Jerry Anthonyrajah, the chief commercial officer of Old Mutual Insure shared his thoughts on emerging trends and how they were likely to impact the insurance industry within the next decade. Among them is the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

3min read

Health Insurance

What goes into your medical aid premium — and what it means for the NHI

Each year, the CMS determines what type of increase is reasonable. But how do medical schemes calculate premiums and is this different from the way in which the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will do it once the much debated NHI Bill has been passed?

There are similarities, but also big differences.

A different view of the NHI. 4.5 min read

Health Squared trustees and consultants may still face sanctions

The trustees of the board of Health Squared Medical Scheme, now in liquidation, may still face sanctions for the alleged maladministration of the scheme and other irregularities that led to its financial ruin.

Its collapse in August 2022 left Heath Squared’s about 13 000 members scrambling for alternative medical aid cover.

Catch up on the latest regarding Health Squared and if you don’t know what happened last year, there is sufficient context provided. 5min read

TB research shows a good diet can cut infections by nearly 50%

For centuries, we have known that tuberculosis is a social disease. It thrives on poverty and social factors such as malnutrition, poor housing, overcrowding, unsafe work environments and stigma.

…[but] knowledge about social determinants alone does not always translate into tangible action and progress. A new trial in India, called RATIONS, aimed to determine the effect of nutritional supplementation on new cases of tuberculosis in households of adults with pulmonary TB. The research found that providing food baskets to people with TB and their households could go a long way to prevent and mitigate the disease.

4min read

Navigating health challenges of women: Doctors share their vision for a brighter future for women’s healthcare in SA

Dr Santá-Marie Venter, an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Anusha Naidoo, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Dr Sarah Nietz, specialist breast cancer surgeon. Three women who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others in disciplines which were previously dominated by men. 5min read


Appeals court rules for banks in Sekunjalo matter – but the fight isn’t over

This is an article from July 2023 which gives you some background into the case involving eight banks accused of anti – competitive behaviour. You may like to follow this complex case as it unfolds. 2.5 min read. The latest by Ann Crotty on the story can be accessed here but you will need a subscription to view the full article.

Who really owns the South African Reserve Bank

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has over 800 shareholders, including notable entities such as Absa, the Anton Rupert Trust, Discovery, and FirstRand Bank.

Thus, the reason to be a shareholder of the Reserve Bank is not for financial gain but rather to get invited to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SARB.

At the AGM, the SARB gives its shareholders considerable financial data and information, which can be important for an economist such as Roodt.

Interesting facts that you may not have known about. 3min read


JSE indices will be less global once Alsi, Swix converge

Index tracking is often referred to as ‘passive investing.’ John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group, who is often considered the father of index funds, said, ‘Why look for a needle in a haystack when you can buy the haystack?’ It is an active decision in its own right for investors choosing an index to track the JSE.

For those interested in in investments this article will provide some context to the various JSE indices and plans to consolidate some of these indices. New terminology “free float weighting”. 3min read

Co-MD: The African urbanisation opportunity is ‘mind-blowing’

Old Mutual’s African Infrastructure Investment Managers (Aiim) are eyeing opportunities flowing from the urbanisation of the African continent.

‘More people will move from rural areas to cities across the continent over the next 30 years than in India and China combined. That’s mind-blowing.’ Aiim co-managing director Olusola Lawson.

3min read

Retirement / Pensions

Is your umbrella fund’s investment strategy too conservative?

To counter the risk of over-conservatism, the employer or management committee must continually monitor the investment strategy to ensure that it meets the members’ investment objectives and their needs.

2.5min read

About YOU

Understanding the flow state

People often enter the flow state when they’re doing something they enjoy. In fact, experts have noted that athletes, musicians, and artists usually perform at their best when this happens.

When you achieve this state of mind, you become immersed in what you’re doing. All of your attention is directed toward the task, and you don’t allow self-doubt to creep in.

In this state, your confidence, productivity, and fulfilment also increase.

Daniel Wong is very generous with his practical advice on studying, although he often reaches out to younger audiences, the lesson is the same. If you would like to tweak your study habits read this article and the one on focus and procrastination. 6min read

How to get unstuck from your writing obstacles

This article is upfront and honest about what keeps us from writing when we need to. It is refreshing and useful. You can also take the learnings into other areas of your life where a big project is getting stuck.  3.5min read

Making black tax manageable begins with accountability

Whether you call it “black tax” or the “sandwich generation”, the obligation placed on those who achieve a degree of financial success to provide for their extended families and communities is a financial reality faced by a growing number of South Africans.

Hadebe is the author of Handle Black Tax Like a Pro – Setting Boundaries, Improving Relationships and Achieving Freedom, a book about how to strike a healthy balance between assisting family members and planning to reach your financial goals.

These are lessons we can all benefit from. The article is a starting point if you can’t afford the book!

I am reminded of a recent quote I came across which seemed to be speaking directly to me:

“Nothing is going to go away until it teaches you what you need to know.” Anonymous