February first edition


Welcome to MM and the first edition of 2024!

“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”

— Charlie Munger on The Work Required to Have an Opinion

If we learn to let go of being in control of the outcome, the process of finding a solution will be more enjoyable, genuinely collaborative and rewarding.

We have just entered the second month of the year, still early enough to reflect on how 2023 went and where we could make changes. A few key articles this week also look back on 2023, some even earlier, and give insight into how 2024 might pan out given key factors are still in place. Please read Executive Viewpoint: How GenAI Translates Big Data Into Big Commercial Insurance Advantages. The writer takes us back to ancient Egypt and likens the challenges of interpreting the Rosetta Stone to our limited knowledge of generative AI. Also, listen to the interview with Kokkie Kooyman on the allegations that several SA banks were enabling Hamas’ terrorist activity.

We have additional longer readings for those who would like to do more research on selected topics and there is speculation on what the budget will have in store for us and potential investors. There is also industry news to keep you up to date on what is happening in the sector.

In the About YOU section there is a long read on how to be successful at any job and interestingly enough the first piece of advice is to not forget to take care of yourself! It seems counterintuitive but it’s so true, moreover research shows that “ambitious people often don’t take care of themselves. This can make them burn out and ultimately be less successful.”


MM Editorial Team


Economic matters

Geopolitical and economic uncertainty bolster gold demand and prices in 2023

Louise Street, Senior Markets Analyst at the World Gold Council, commented:

“Unwavering demand from central banks has been supportive of gold demand again this year and helped offset weakness in other areas of the market, keeping 2023 demand well above the ten-year moving average.”

The article refers to OTC markets or Over-The-Counter markets which you can get an explanation of here. It also refers to ETFs which are funds that issue shares, which are traded on a stock exchange, and cover a broad range of asset classes and investment strategies you can find out more here. 2.5min read.

South African banks closing the taps – and keeping them closed

South Africa’s banks have been steadily reducing the amount of credit they give to consumers and companies over the past decades, with growth in lending dropping below 5% for the first time since the pandemic. This was revealed in Nedbank’s Guide to the Economy for January 2024.

It outlines the dire situation in which the South African economy finds itself. 3min read.

South Africa is kicking the growth can down the road

South Africa is not investing enough in infrastructure, which is severely limiting growth in the country.  The Nedbank Group Economic Unit, International Monetary Fund and Deloitte have all pencilled in a measly 1% growth in GDP in 2024.

A pre-budget article on how bad the SA economy is. 3min read.

Budget: Deloitte warns SA to prepare for ‘short-term’ pain

Deloitte has warned South Africans to prepare for “short-term” pain as the government will have to continue implementing expenditure cuts in a bid to stabilise the country’s unsustainable debt burden.

3min read.

Financial Services Industry

SA’s top banks analyst on Hamas allegations, Sanlam’s Indian “Tencent” and Assupol

In this fascinating interview, Denker Capital’s co-founder provides context on the Hamas funding allegations – and explores why Sanlam’s investment in India is looking uncannily similar to Naspers’ game-changing early bet on Tencent.

Take time out and listen to the interview which covers a range of economic indicators plus background on how allegations impact the banking sector and how diversifying offshore can prove to be a good move for shareholders at home. 24min interview also available as a podcast.

Confidential out-of-court settlement between VBS and KPMG was R500m: source

A source familiar with the matter told Daily Maverick that the sum was R500-million. The money will be paid to the liquidator to distribute among the creditors, who will likely feel short-changed.

This article is a short account of gross corruption. The investigator’s report to the Prudential Authority was published in Oct 2018. It is called The Great Bank Heist and it shows that R2 billion was stolen. You can access the report here

Sanlam moves to acquire 100% of Assupol Holdings shares

Sanlam plans to acquire up to 100% of the shares of Assupol Holdings (Assupol), through a scheme of arrangement, with a fallback general offer to Assupol shareholders for a purchase consideration of around R6,5 billion.

3min read.

Risk and resilience: unpacking the effects of South Africa’s prolonged hard insurance market 

Cedric Masondo, Chief Executive Officer at PSG Insure, looks back on the past five years and brings us into the present and what we can expect for insurers in the future given industry experience. 8min read.


Life Insurance

Mind the gap

At Elevate, we believe that when it comes to creating insurance solutions, technology is a means to an end − rather than the end. We feel that it’s vital to marry digital intelligence and human connection in order to enhance engagement.

A well written article showing the marriage between AI and the human touch and why it should not be forgotten. 3min read.

The Impact of Gender Neutral Pricing on the Life Insurance Industry

With gender-neutral pricing being one of the most controversial issues facing life insurers in the past decade, it might be a good idea to remind yourself why this topic is so important. This is a dissertation by Cho Yeung Chan which was submitted as part of the requirements for the award of the MSc Actuarial Management, Cass Business School, City University London in 2014.  It is well researched and laid out and is an example of good academic writing. It is 56 pages long including references.

Proposed amendment bill aims to end funeral cover over-insurance

A proposed amendment Bill aims to address legislative gaps pertaining to funeral policies, but will it really solve the problems associated with over-insurance?

Last week, United Democratic Movement MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa announced in the Government Gazette that he intends to bring to Parliament the Long-term Insurance Amendment Bill, 2024. It aims to make changes to the Long-term Insurance Act.

This article covers various aspects of funeral cover that should be considered and demonstrates how tricky it is to monitor over insurance across insurers. Please read this article. Do you think that consumers should be allowed to have multiple funeral cover policies? Substantiate your answer with detail from the article. 10min read.

To die so that another can live – why insurers need to rethink the red tape 

In South Africa, where financial inequality prevails and the vast majority have more needs than money, there are four ways for those living on the breadline to access a decent chunk of funds. They can save (difficult, when there’s always more month left at the end of your income), they can gamble (risky), they can borrow (which comes with its own set of barriers and pitfalls), or they can use the pay-out from an insurance policy.

What do you think about this thought provoking article? 2.5min read.

General Insurance

Insider cyber threats hamper SA firms

Eleven percent of companies in South Africa suffered from deliberate malicious cyber incidents caused by staff members.

This is according to a new study conducted by cyber security firm Kaspersky, which looks at the cyber incidents caused by the ‘human factor’ as well as insider cyber threats.

The information in this article makes mitigating cyber risk as an insurer a complex business. How would you begin to measure insider risk and insure it for a small business? 3min read.

JBA seals flood data partnership with Old Mutual Insure for South Africa

UK-based flood science specialist JBA Risk Management has secured a new partnership with South African non-life insurer Old Mutual Insure for use of its detailed flood maps in the country.

Exciting news for OMI who will now be better prepared to handle climate change risks. 2.5min read.

Executive Viewpoint: How GenAI Translates Big Data Into Big Commercial Insurance Advantages

The latest advancements in AI are changing the way we interpret and apply large datasets because they are finally speaking our language, writes Elad Tsur, the CEO of Planck, an AI-powered data platform for commercial insurance.

Likening generative AI to a modern-day Rosetta Stone, Tsur also describes the benefits he sees for the industry in streamlining process, identifying emerging trends and uncovering hidden risks.

3.5min read.

Health Insurance

Government stands firm against avalanche of NHI backlash

While legal challenges are being lined up against the National Health Insurance Bill – which last week passed through the final parliamentary steps – the country’s largest medical scheme has come forward with proposals on how to make the plan work. But it will be a hard sell, writes Medical Brief, as government buckles down on the controversial legislation.

An article from mid-December 2023 covering comment from many stakeholders, which will bring you up to speed on the topic for 2024. 6min read.

How the scheme will be funded

Commentators have published criticisms about the alleged lack of funding details in the NHI Bill, writes Nicholas Crisp in The Star but no one questions the funding requirements for the implementation of the National Health Act. And no one questions what private medical scheme options will cost and what they will pay for next year, the year after or ever in future.

It is important to read as much information as possible on this contentious topic. The underlying issue of difference is one of trust. 3min read.


SA Reserve Bank’s move on Ithala surprises KZN MPLs

The ambitions of Ithala SOC Limited to be a “fully-fledged bank” have been dealt a heavy blow after it was ordered to stop taking deposits.

This is in terms of a court order that was granted by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in December.

2.5min read.

The latest is that the financial regulator (FSCA) is continuing to clamp down on Ithala, see Business Live article date 31 January, if you have a subscription. 

FNB pulls plug on tap-to-pay functionality

Big-four bank First National Bank (FNB) will discontinue its tap-to-pay contactless payment functionality in April.

Interesting that FNB is encouraging clients to switch to Google Wallet. Do you know why this would be the case? 3min read.

SOLmate sees increased cashless transactions in SA

South African fintech start-up SOLmate has seen strong demand for its digital wallet in the local market, with its user numbers growing 100% year-on-year, it says.

SOLmate hit a milestone in December, recording one million transactions since inception – with over 30 000 new customers signing up on its mobile app in the past two months.

2.5min read

TymeBank swings into profitability in under five years

Digital-only bank, TymeBank says it became the first digital bank to make profits in South Africa and on the continent, after reaching its first month of profitability in December 2023.

According to the African Rainbow Capital (ARC)-controlled bank, the milestone, which comes less than five years since it launched to the public in February 2019, marks a pivotal moment as SA’s only black-controlled bank.

3min read.


Insights from Q4 2023: Market Surprises & Portfolio Strategies

PPS Investment Perspectives – Economic Performance in Q4 2023

The final quarter of 2023 saw high geopolitical tensions emanating from the war in Gaza, stoking fears of broader contagion amid the humanitarian crisis with South Africa charging Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

PPS state that it is difficult to forecast the macro-outlook. What do you think the possible continued disinflation over 2024 and/or possible further interest rate cuts by the Fed will mean for investors? 3min read.

Upcoming election weighing on investors

Even though several negative factors impacted the investment environment in 2023, South African markets followed global peers higher in the final quarter with the FTSE/JSE All Share Index ending the year at 9.3%, which was marginally behind bonds at 9.7% but ahead of cash, at 7.8%. The standout performance for 2023 came from global equities, with the All Country World Index (ACWI) returning 31.3% (in rand).

4min read.

Satrix launches Satrix JSE Global Equity ETF

The Satrix JSE Global Equity ETF (STXJGE) will give investors an equity building block that upweights local companies that have their primary listings offshore. It will track the FTSE/JSE Global Investor Index.

3.5min read.

Geopolitical and economic uncertainty bolster gold demand and prices in 2023

Louise Street, Senior Markets Analyst at the World Gold Council, commented:

“Unwavering demand from central banks has been supportive of gold demand again this year and helped offset weakness in other areas of the market, keeping 2023 demand well above the ten-year moving average.”

The article refers to OTC markets or Over-The-Counter markets which you can get an explanation of here. It also refers to ETFs which are funds that issue shares, which are traded on a stock exchange, and cover a broad range of asset classes and investment strategies you can find out more here. 2.5min read.


Retirement / Pensions

South Africa: A step closer to the implementation of the Two-pot Retirement System – Pension Funds Amendment Bill Published 30 Jan 2024

The proposed amendments to the PFA follow from the publication of the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill (B39-2023) which establishes the so-called ‘two-pot retirement system’ It is expected that the two-pot retirement system will take effect on 1 September 2024, however, we are still awaiting the amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1962, by the Revenue Laws Amendment Act.

This is a short precursor to the bill itself which can be accessed on the same page. 2.5min read.

Danger of rushing implementation of two-pot retirement system

While a successful implementation promises to address key long-standing deficiencies in the current retirement framework, an unsuccessful or rushed implementation runs the risk of destabilising or undermining confidence in a crucial sector of the economy.

Good questions raised and implications spelled out. 4min read.

Financial Services Tribunal upholds PFA’S rulings on fund transfers

The Financial Services Tribunal has dismissed an application by the Municipal Employees’ Pension Fund for reconsideration of a determination by the Pension Funds Adjudicator on a complaint by a member relating to pensionable service upon retirement which greatly impacts benefits.

Transferring from one fund into another is tricky, most of us will do that because we change employers throughout our career in which case attention to the detail of the fund rules is important. 3min read.

South Africa’s retirement time bomb

South Africa is sitting on a retirement time bomb, with only 6% of the country’s population on track to retire comfortably.

This is according to the recently released 10X Investments Retirement Reality Report 2023, based on the 2023 Brand Atlas Survey findings.

Start saving now is the message! 3min read.

About YOU

A different take on what makes us feel so busy, stressed, and anxious

As a rule, the larger your surface area, the more energy you have to expend maintaining it. Of course, when most of us think of surface area, we think of the area of a rectangle or how much grass we have to mow. But there is a surface area of life, and most of us never realize how much it consumes.

A short piece which makes so much sense! 2min read.

Caffeine: here’s how quitting can benefit your health

Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive compound in the world. Even if you don’t drink coffee or tea, you probably still regularly consume caffeine since it’s found in everything from fizzy drinks and cold remedies to decaf coffee and chocolate.

Before you launch into the cycle of too much caffeine in 2024 – read the article to bring you back to moderate consumption. 4min read.

All the evidence-based advice we found on how to be more successful in any job

The trouble with self-help advice is that it’s often based on barely any evidence.

Recent research found evidence that fantasising about your perfect life actually makes you less likely to make it happen. While it can be pleasant, it appears to reduce motivation because it makes you feel that you’ve already hit those targets.

Read this article which is full of practical advice backed up by years of research based on empirical evidence. It is well worth reading the fifteen guidelines but take them one at a time as it is a 45 minute read and you will want to adopt them all!