Welcome to Matters of Mind (MM)

March 2024, Second Edition


“How to clarify a concept you can’t articulate:

1. Change mediums. Draw it. Photograph it. Sing it.
2. Change levels. Explain what is one level up (bigger picture) or one level down (finer details).
3. Change fields. What would this concept look like in different fields?”

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits


In this edition MM cites research papers, reports and opinion pieces from writers who ask themselves “Why” a situation is the way it is. As readers we should also be asking ourselves the same questions they raise and as with any data, test the validity of their opinions where possible.

We start with global economic news focusing on selected African states, China and Russia and move straight into local financial and industry news. Later, we test the assumption that our personal inflation rate is higher than that of Stats SA. Amongst a range of shorter articles across specialist areas there are several papers waiting to be read in the General Insurance section, and a must read article on “How to think better” in the About YOU section, which also covers the questions “Why do we sleep?” and “What amount of stress is too much?” in two separate articles.

Share and enjoy!

MM editorial team

Economic matters

Mobile money becomes key global economic driver

This is based on insights from the 12th edition of the GSM Association’s (GSMA’s) annual “State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money”.

2.5min read. The reports are a rich resource for analysing the growth of mobile money which you can access here.

Mozambique passes landmark legislation for $91.7bn sovereign wealth fund

It’s an important step in improving governance in the southeast African nation that got cut off from most international financing in 2016, when the government admitted it had borrowed more than $1 billion that it didn’t disclose to the IMF as required.

A positive step for Mozambique. 2min read

Inflation in Nigeria is still climbing while it has slowed globally: here’s why

 It would be good to know why this is happening and if there is an underlying principle at play when this phenomenon occurs.  4min read

China: why the country’s economy has hit a wall – and what it plans to do about it

An interesting high level description of the recent economic past for China and the direction it has decided to follow in changing it around. 4min read

Vladimir Putin’s gold strategy explains why sanctions against Russia have failed

There are more than 16,000 sanctions imposed against Russia. Yet the Russian economy and war machine grew by 3.6 per cent in 2023 and is projected to grow another 2.6 per cent in 2024.

How would this growth be possible? What is the allure of gold as a security? 4min read

Cocoa beans are in short supply: what this means for farmers, businesses and chocolate lovers

A shortage of cocoa beans has led to a near shutdown of processing plants in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two countries responsible for 60% of global production. With chocolate makers around the world reliant on west Africa for cocoa, there is significant concern about the impact on the prices of chocolate and the livelihood of farmers.

It is stark realities like these that could form the background to an F106 question. For example, the examiner could ask you how you would manage the risks this information presents for a specific business. 4min read

Edward Kieswetter’s big corporate tax headache

The government’s different forms of tax revenue have grown significantly over the past decade, but corporate income tax growth has been lagging as South African businesses struggle in the country’s tough operating environment.

2.5min read

Financial Services Industry

Markus Jooste fined R475m for publishing misleading Steinhoff financials

In December 2017 Steinhoff’s share price plunged. The late CEO Markus Jooste resigned abruptly after auditors highlighted accounting irregularities in its financial documents.

 4min read

More Prosecutions Essential to Getting off Grey List, says Treasury’s Momoniat

Co-ordination and collaboration among state agencies involved in combating financial crimes has improved significantly, but much must still be done for South Africa to produce tangible evidence to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that it is combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

3min read

South Africa commits to shedding grey list stigma, assures financial integrity efforts

Governor Lesetja Kganyago underscores the nation’s commitment to restoring integrity, citing joint efforts as crucial. Kganyago stresses the importance of public trust, highlighting ongoing inflation concerns amidst tight monetary policy.

2.5min read

Twenty years later, former intern Mampho Modise returns to SA Reserve Bank as deputy governor

The gap left by the departure of Kuben Naidoo, a deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank, about five months ago has been filled by Dr Mampho Modise, who is currently National Treasury’s deputy director-general (DDG) of public finance.

There is no doubt Mampho is qualified for the role and represents a triumph for women in finance. 1min read

General Insurance

Joint Standard — tackling the rising tide of cybersecurity threats to financial institutions

The Joint Standard aims to ensure that financial institutions, including insurers, have the necessary governance and risk management structures, as well as processes and procedures related to IT risk management in place. Additionally, it ensures that financial institutions regularly conduct risk assessments, identify potential threats, and implement mitigation measures.

Insuring in this arena is very tricky given the many components to IT infrastructure and software. This article (3min read) provides a high level Q&A on Joint Standard. If you want to view the full document you can access it here.

New initiative aims to ease home insurance challenges amid climate risks

Unless the insurance industry finds a way to close the gap between the prediction and the pricing of weather-related risks, South Africans might see increased insurance costs or even risk being uninsured for climate risk.

Locally relevant 3min read.

Can behavioural economics change the way consumers think about insurance? 

Or is it more about understanding why people think and behave the way they do when it comes to insurance? The article gives some insight in this respect. 3min read

Climate Scorpion – the sting is in the tail

  • What if the Earth’s climate was more sensitive to greenhouse gases than we thought?
  • How much hotter will the world get and by when?
  • What are the implications for society and how do we manage these risks?

‘Climate Scorpion – the sting is in the tail’ is the latest in a series of climate risk reports produced by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which looks at how ‘planetary solvency’ and actuarial expertise can help answer these questions, and both tackle climate change and its impact.

A highly informative 35 page report

AI vision for the actuarial profession

This essay explores the potential impact of AI on the actuarial profession, discussing how actuaries can harness AI tools and techniques to enhance their work and create value for society, policyholders, insurers, and the profession itself.

11 page essay by Ron Richman, well worth reading.

Health Insurance

Minerals Council outlines work done to support mineworkers with occupational lung diseases

A positive report on improvements despite the increase in claims. Worth reading to understand the mechanisms involved in this sector regarding compensation for occupational lung diseases. 3min read.

Global fertility in 204 countries and territories, 1950–2021, with forecasts to 2100: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021

The full paper is freely available, but a Summary is also provided. 5min read

Neurological conditions now the number one cause of disease globally

In 2021, more than 3bn people worldwide were living with a neurological condition – the number of cases of diabetic neuropathy, for instance, having more than tripled globally since 1990, rising to 206m cases in 2021, according to a major study released by The Lancet Neurology.

5min read with access to the study.


Big-four banks take lead in SA’s GenAI, AI deployments

South Africa’s banking sector is ahead of other local sectors in the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI (GenAI), with the big-four banks leading the pack.

This was revealed during the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) Conference 2024, in Johannesburg.

3min read

Absa prioritises AI for digital banking accessibility

In the fast-paced world of digital banking, providing seamless and intuitive experiences for customers is paramount.

Recognising this need, Absa is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding (NLU) to transform the way customers interact with its banking services.

43min TV interview which unpacks the topic and the role of the chief digital officer at Absa.

Standard Bank facilitates 2.8bn digital transactions

This is a brief account of Standard’s successes on the digital front. 2.5min read

Top banking CEO sends a warning about state banks in South Africa

Nedbank CEO Mike Brown says there’s no need for a state bank in South Africa – warning that the government already has no money to run one while also exhibiting a poor track record for running state-owned enterprises.

2.5min read

Dlamini-Zuma set to initiate South Africa’s first State bank

South Africa will launch its first state bank in July 2024, if it is able to get its license from the Prudential Authority.

2.5min read

Discovery Bank breaks even ahead of plan

Digital bank Discovery Bank has reached its monthly operational break-even ahead of the group’s target date.

2min read


Bitcoin’s 2024 supply shock: What impact will the Halving have on the crypto market?

In this article, we delve into the concept of the Bitcoin Halving, its historical significance, and the potential impact it could have on the crypto market in 2024.

4min read

Crypto arbitrage: A safer and more stable way to profit from crypto

It’s the antidote to those who want to avoid crypto’s notorious volatility.

3min read

SA crypto players upbeat over granting of licences

South Africa’s crypto-currency players believe the crypto licences recently approved by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) will promote greater adoption of the currency and boost investor confidence among institutions and the public.

3min read

Robo-advisers are here – the pros and cons of using AI in investing

AI-powered robo-advisers, such as Betterment and Vanguard in the US, and finance app Revolut in Europe, are now democratising investment. These tools are making professional financial insight and portfolio management available to everyone. But although there are plenty of advantages to using robo-advisers, there are downsides too.

4min read

Retail Investors Drive Net Inflows into Hedge Funds in 2023

After a few years of sluggish performance, hedge funds in South Africa experienced healthy inflows for the second consecutive year, indicating increasing acceptance of the investment instrument as a key tool for navigating market volatility.

5min read

Blending investment management and technology 

As a discretionary fund manager (DFM), we try to narrow the gap between investment management and advice, which can be quite a complicated process.

Florbela Yates head of Equilibrium demonstrates how sensitivity to clients’ behavioural finance is vital when trying to achieve capital growth for those in retirement. 3 min read

Inflation, and the importance of investing for growth

Many of us intuitively think that our personal inflation rate is higher than the Stats SA calculated inflation rate. But is it?

The implications of being led by our intuition are explored in this article. 5min read

Retirement / Pensions

Treasury addresses industry’s main concerns about pension funds amendment bill

One of the main concerns raised by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) and the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) is the contradictions between the PFAB and the Divorce Act. Retirement funds need clarity on whether the PFA or the Divorce Act must prevail when the provisions of the Acts come into conflict.

4min read

About YOU

Why do we usually sleep at night? What happens when we don’t sleep? Expert insights into this essential part of our lives

Sleep is as essential to our health as food and water. It is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. We sleep for a third of our lives and there are many restorative processes going on during sleep that are needed to stay healthy.

Respect your wellness by getting into good sleep habits. 3.5min read

How much stress is too much? A psychiatrist explains the links between toxic stress and poor health − and how to get help

COVID-19 taught most people that the line between tolerable and toxic stress – defined as persistent demands that lead to disease – varies widely. But some people will age faster and die younger from toxic stressors than others.

So how much stress is too much, and what can you do about it?

This article is recommended reading for you to become more aware of the behaviours that can lead to toxic stress and what to dop about it. 4min read

The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught: How to Think Better

This page has been curated to provide some answers to how to we can learn to think better. A section of a lecture by William Deresiewicz titled Solitude and Leadership is quoted and is a must read. Take your time to read the full page and gain maximum benefit. 10min read.