February second edition

Welcome to Matters of Mind (MM)

February second edition

‘…teach you to not hold assumptions too preciously, to be open to being challenged, to constantly re-evaluate.’  Sandile Malinga, Co-Head of Multi-Asset Funds at M&G Investments on actuarial studies and the professional exams.

In this edition we will be asking you to think about how we make assumptions and what part they play in determining positions of intransigence in the face of facts that would have us believe differently if we were thinking critically.

With the Budget Speech still fresh in our minds we have the opportunity to focus on its nuances as seen by industry experts as well as its broader economic implications. We drill down to what it means for Health Insurance and General Insurance, where the latter particularly has to answer to protecting society in the wake of climate change.

There is much about risk and whether AI is a risk or a mitigator of risk and how Generative AI is contributing to carbon emissions and water usage on a grand scale. These are hard questions needing to be asked.


MM Editorial Team

Economic matters

Analyzing the 2024 Budget: Insights from the industry

This article will give you a broad perspective on the Budget given the comments from:

  • Ronald King, Head: Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs, PSG Financial Services
  • Mashudu Lavhengwa: Metropolitan Economist
  • Elna Moolman, Head: SA macroeconomic research at Standard Bank South Africa
  • Mark Lacey, Head of Global resources at global investment manager, Schroders

4min read

PwC post-Budget analysis 2024

This is an interesting article as it shows what PwC was expecting prior to the speech and what was presented in the speech.  It is a good way to engage with the content.  5min read

The full Budget Speech can be accessed here. Courtesy of PwC.

China’s chip industry is gaining momentum – it could alter the global economic and security landscape

China’s national champions for computer chip – or semiconductor – design and manufacturing, HiSilicon and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), are making waves in Washington.

Read this article to gain better understanding of the global economic dynamics at play regarding the manufacture of semiconductors. 4min read

Navigating the Global Risks Landscape

The world is bracing itself for a decade fraught with challenges and uncertainties, with risks evolving and shaping the global landscape. The Global Risks Report 2024, now in its 19th year, provides a crucial window into these impending challenges.

Spiros Fatouros, the CEO of Marsh McLennan South Africa delves into the most pressing of these. 4min read

You can access the Global Risks Report 2024 here.

Another blow for interest rates in South Africa

The latest minutes from the United States Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) have all but cemented a longer hold on interest rates in South Africa at 14-year highs, with the market now expecting rate cuts in the world’s biggest economy after the middle point of the year, possibly only in Q3.

2.5min read

Financial Services Industry

The Booming Insurance Market In The DRC

As a pioneer in the insurance industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Société Financière d ’Assurance au Congo (SFA Congo) is working to strengthen its position as a leader and innovate in a sector that has been open to private companies only since 2018.

Yes, insurance is alive and well even in war torn DRC. 3min read

A year in review: South Africa’s ongoing journey after greylisting by the FATF

A recap on the toll the greylisting has had on the economy and the measures needed to rebuild trust in our financial services industry with prior African and overseas business partners. 3min read

General Insurance

Budget: Old Mutual Insure reaction

On the climate change response fund and electric vehicles, a response from Ron Richman chief actuary at OMI. 2.5min read.

Unappreciated Gen AI Risks: Carbon Emissions and D&O Litigation

This article raises a lot of questions around Gen AI being touted as the solution to many pressing issues in the industry. 6min read

D&O is the acronym for Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance.

Health Insurance

Clarity on NHI funding – including the indirect R6.9bn allocated

A balanced interpretation of the funding as per the budget speech. 3 min read

Discovery Health Medical Scheme data shows over R3.2 billion paid for cancer treatment in 2023

Regular check-ups are the best way to catch cancer in the early stages. The good news is that cancer screening has returned to pre pandemic levels. Global and Discovery Health specific experience is cited in the article. 5min read

The digital ‘robots’ unlocking medical data

Professor Ben Goldacre on OpenSAFELY, a system to let researchers investigate medical data while keeping its secrets safe.

A great ten minute BBC recording with Prof Ben Goldacre.  

Risks of AI prediction performance should be measured, especially in critical areas like healthcare

An opinion piece with excellent credibility. You will relate to Bayes’ Theorem which is a tool used to measure the risk of AI predictions. 4min read

If you find the topic of AI predictions a vexing challenge, I am sure you will appreciate the cartoon below from Professor Daniel J. Solove:

Cartoon: AI and the Trolley Problem


Rand Merchant Bank breaks new ground in Africa with World Bank partnership

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has achieved a significant milestone in Africa by partnering with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank, to extend short-term funding support on a trade-backed facility for the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

2.5min read

Velmie’s new platform transforms banking for fintechs, banks

This platform has been strategically engineered to seamlessly integrate with the existing IT infrastructure of banks and fintechs, empowering them to expand their range of products and bolster their revenue streams.

2.5min read


AI companies are merging or collaborating to even out the gap in access to vital datasets

Some recent mergers, acquisitions and investments in the business world have highlighted the strategic value of data to companies. These businesses are not just buying assets or market share – they are also acquiring or investing in large, complementary datasets. This process is known in the business world as horizontal integration.

This article highlights the pitfalls of horizontal integration and the need for tighter regulation. 5min read

Money Managers Try to Put a Price on Climate Risk. It’s Not Easy.

When investors contemplate risk, it’s straightforward to think about measurable economic shifts like rising interest rates, inflation and sales trends. The data are readily available and simple enough to incorporate into financial models. The looming risks from climate change, on the other hand, often elude money managers. While they know that it’s likely a mistake to not incorporate threats such as extreme weather into company valuations, and that climate change will impact most of the stocks already in their portfolios, few investors are making the calculations.

Another article pointing to the lack of a ‘system’ to factor climate change into company valuations. 5min read

The uncomfortable realities of climate change and net-zero

John Green Chief Commercial Officer at the Ninety One, in a COP28-focused webinar said:

“Developing and emerging economies are responsible for more than 60% of global carbon emissions [today] and will be responsible for over 90% of the growth in emissions over the next 20-years,” If policymakers fail to adapt, then China, India, and to a lesser extent, Africa could easily undo the net-zero progress being made in developed markets.

4min read

Retirement / Pensions

Old Mutual welcomes Finance Minister’s update of Two-Pot Retirement System in Budget Speech

With more work to be done before the effective date of 1 September, OM’s Michelle Acon is looking forward to the final version of the system and the accompanying SARS tax processes by the end of March. 3min read

Minister of Finance Publishes Pension Funds Amendment Bill

This article was posted ahead of the Budget Speech and provides more context on specific components. Access to the Pensions Bill is provided. 2 min read

Getting SARS To Sponsor Your Retirement

Pieter Albertyn, Head of Product Solutions at Momentum Investo, says it is a lost opportunity not to invest in a retirement product.

3min read

About YOU

Intelligence doesn’t make you immune to conspiracy theories – it’s more about thinking style

Over the last two decades, and in particular over the last five years, there has been a growing scientific interest in conspiracy theories and people who believe in them.

This article speaks about the many ways we form opinions and reach conclusions and what critical thinking is. 4 min read

Spreadsheet errors can have disastrous consequences – yet we keep making the same mistakes

Spreadsheet blunders aren’t just frustrating personal inconveniences. They can have serious consequences. And in the last few years alone, there have been a myriad of spreadsheet horror stories.

The article concludes that we must develop an attitude of critical thinking towards spreadsheets, in other words question calculations, validate our sources and double-check our work! 4 min read

Preventing catastrophic pandemics

This article speaks to the probability of the human race being wiped out due to a pandemic or the advancement of AI. It refers to major historical events in mitigating the risk of a future catastrophe – thought processes that insurers also go through when assessing risk. The article brings it down to you making a difference in the world by working in areas which are likely to have the greatest positive impact on humankind. In this instance it is not actuarial, but it could very well be one of the disciplines providing input to averting a catastrophic pandemic.

20min read