Welcome to Matters of Mind

Hello everyone

Now that exams are done you will have more time on your hands to read and develop a perspective on global issues that impact insurance and the broader economy – this week’s newsletter will hopefully fill any gaps!

Charlie Munger passed away this week and MM has often relied on his wisdom to lift the newsletter and challenge our thinking. Here is a short tribute to a remarkable person who made a lot of money with Warren Buffet and who inspired many to go on and do the same and be happy in the process.

Just a heads up that the two pot retirement system is scheduled for 1 March 2024 but no one seems to be ready for it. To avert last minute panic, Sanlam is holding an online workshop where participants will bravely debate processes that must be initiated in preparation for the new ruling. We’ll catch up on that in the new year.

Another item on your end of year list may be to assess your long term goals and your plans to achieve them. If CEO leadership is on your list, please check out the report: “The Companies That Produce the Most CEOs”. Whilst this is a US-centric view, note some of the universal principles of preparing individuals for the role of CEO.  You can start working on them now. The goal is not as important as the system of habits you put in place to achieve it. That’s from James Clear in his book Atomic Habits.

Look out for the article that unpacks Swiss Re’s sigma report titled “Risks on the rise as headwinds blow stronger: global economic and insurance market outlook 2024‒25.”  This is a must read as it forecasts global trends which also affect SA. It will show you what and how elements are combining to increase risk.

Spend some time reflecting on the year and how far you’ve come. Waiting for results is anxiety provoking but since you have no control over the results at this point think rather of how you can improve your skills in other areas. For example, many of you will be entering a hybrid workplace for the first time and others of you may be managers in that context. Check out the article in the About YOU section for some tips on communicating effectively within hybrid workplaces and the practice of self-compassion.

Enjoy the read and we’ll see you in the new year!

MM Editorial Team

Economic matters

National Treasury cuts 2024 fiscal revenue estimate by R57bn

Reduced mining tax revenue and higher tax refunds were key reasons for the reduction in the forecast.

If you have been deep in study and exam mode for the past month, this is a good place to start so that you have a macro economic view of SA for the foreseeable future. 3min read

For the full budget (100 pages) in .pdf you can go here.

National Treasury: Government to close grey listing deficiencies by 2025

The government still has to address most of the 22 grey-listing deficiencies identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by early 2025, according to Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana during his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) speech.

1min read

Higher for longer, but no more hikes

Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), was exceptionally dovish at today’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, especially relative to his usual stance and relative to October’s CPI which came in at 5.9% year-on-year (y/y) relative to expectations of 5.6%.

3min read

Kenya’s stock market has suffered steepest losses in the world: an expert view on why and how to reverse it

Kenya’s stock market recently suffered steep losses, making it the worst performing globally. The weak performance has persisted: the Nairobi Securities Exchange 20-share index stood at about 1420 on 10 November 2023, having fallen from 1509 on 29 September 2023, a drop of 6% over the six-week period. In better days, the index has risen above the psychological 5000 mark: for example, it was 5491 on 23 February 2015.

This article has value for South Africans because the principles are universal. The message is sometimes clearer when it is not as close to home. 4min read

Allianz and Dutch Development Bank Back $1.1 Billion Sustainable Loans Fund

Allianz Global Investors and Dutch development bank FMO have agreed one of the largest “blended finance” funds on record, raising $1.1 billion to invest in loans that help emerging and frontier countries meet sustainable development targets.

Read more about “blended finance” in this case and consider reading the article below on the IFC. 3min read

Projects funded by the World Bank Group’s private sector arm fuel violent conflict – it’s time to reform the system

To what extent does private investment help developing countries to reduce conflict and violence and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

This is a hotly debated issue. Most international institutions such as the World Bank Group take the stance that the problem is not enough private investment. So, they mobilise public resources to subsidise and protect private sector actors with the goal of greatly increasing foreign direct investment.

3.5min read

Poor Countries Are Missing Out on Pre-Arranged Climate Disaster Finance: Study

The poorest and most vulnerable countries do not benefit enough from pre-arranged financing (PAF) to cope with disasters and are most exposed to the losses and damage caused by climate change, the London-based Centre for Disaster Protection said on Thursday.

2min read

Update – Economic Threats Top List of G20 Business Leaders’ Concerns: WEF Survey

The survey gathered the views of more than 11,000 business leaders from over 110 countries between April and August 2023. (The survey excludes the G20 members China and Russia.)

2.5min read

As reported by the WEF Survey:

“Economic and societal concerns – including stagnant growth, the erosion of social cohesion and wellbeing, and increasing levels of national debt – are front of mind for businesses, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Executive Opinion Survey (EOS).”

Read more here

Financial Services Industry

Ruan Jooste’s Rants and Cents: Can the mutual society mould make things better?

According to media reports mutual societies are enjoying a renaissance in the financial services sector in some parts of the world. In Japan, mutuals and co-ops have 39.2% of the insurance market and in Canada, it’s 17.4%.

South Africa technically only has two pure-hearted mutual societies left, PPS and Avbob, following the de-mutualisation craze in the nineties which saw financial bigwigs like Old Mutual and Sanlam take their shares to market.

Balanced view. 5min read

Prescient Management Company (PManco) appoints Kim Gibb as CEO

Prescient Management Company (RF) (Pty) Ltd (PManco) has appointed Kim Gibb as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective November 2023. She will be replacing outgoing CEO Meyer Coetzee who has taken on a new strategic role within the wider Prescient group.

2min read

Momentum Metropolitan appoints Dumo Mbethe as Executive Director to the Board

Mbethe is a seasoned executive and business leader with more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He joined Momentum Metropolitan in January 2017 as COO of the Africa and Asia business and became CEO of the Africa business in October 2017. In September 2019, he was appointed as CEO of the Momentum Corporate business, a position he continues to hold.

Mbethe also serves on the Actuarial Governance Board. 2min read

Diversity and Inclusion

Jobs remain the missing piece in the financial inclusivity puzzle

The fact that the market conduct regulator has placed the ‘E’ and ‘S’ of ESG firmly in its crosshairs is not lost on the professional financial planner community, with many of the country’s financial advisers and planners trying to work out how to make their financial advice more accessible, affordable and inclusive. Unfortunately, they are making little headway in an environment blighted by high levels of unemployment and a formal sector where many income earners are struggling to keep the lights on, let alone engaging a financial advice partner

This article is a 4min read interrogating the latest quarterly journal, Collective Insights, titled: ‘Can SA make the great shift? Why financial planning needs to go holistic’. The publication can be downloaded here.

Fewer Than 10% of CEOs in Britain’s Largest Companies Are Women

Even as Britain’s largest companies are hiring women in executive leadership roles at the fastest pace in five years, there’s a big hurdle to cross: they are still unlikely to be in influential roles overseeing the commercial side of the business.

Find out more. 2min read

Life Insurance

How the insurance industry is dealing with mental health

Globally poor mental health affects close to a billion people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Statistics compiled by the WHO report that in 2019, one in every eight people, or 970 million people around the world, were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders being the most common. This increased significantly in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, the number of people living with anxiety and depressive disorders rose by around 26%.

Is it possible that insurance can ease the financial burden on managing mental health illnesses? Before reading the article think of a few ways that it could. 3min read

Making a comeback

The South African life insurance industry, in collaboration with its financial adviser community, is poised to overcome the challenges brought on by the pandemic and capitalise on new opportunities that lie ahead.

3min read

General Insurance

P/C Insurers Face Challenging Claims Dynamics as Frequency, Severity Rise: Swiss Re

The pace of claims growth in the liability line of business challenges the insurability of those risks, said Swiss Re’s sigma report titled “Risks on the rise as headwinds blow stronger: global economic and insurance market outlook 2024‒25.”

“Liability lines comprise the majority of P&C industry reserves, and the adequacy of reserves after the inflation surge is emerging as a key risk,” the report said, noting that reserves in the US for lines “such as commercial motor and certain general liability categories are already viewed as deficient.”

The article unravels the key points of the report. A must read of 10min.

Before and After: Managing Through the Cycle of a Cyber Attack

In such a fast-changing cyber risk landscape, experts say preparation is key, and one element that can help with that is cyber insurance.

“Cyber insurance is such a critical tool when you think about having a policy and having an approach to handling incidents and incident response,” said Xing Xin, co-founder and CEO of InsurTech Upfort. “One of the best partners and tools you can have in managing that risk is a cyber insurance policy.”

Listen to this episode of The Insuring Cyber Podcast (10min) or read the article (5min).

Harnessing the power of quantitative risk assessment

In an era where digital threats loom larger than ever, businesses need to pivot from merely defending against cyberattacks to building an infrastructure that can absorb and adapt to them. The new paradigm? Cyber resilience.

A strategy that marries traditional cybersecurity approaches with a forward-thinking model of risk mitigation and security by design factors in every facet of a business’s operations. Supporting this paradigm shift lies a powerful tool: quantitative risk analysis.

This is an in depth discussion on how quantitative risk analysis can be conducted. With many actuaries taking on the role of Chief Risk Officer it is worth reading. 8min read

Many Australians Abandon Insurance as Premiums Surge on Climate Costs: ICA Head

Over a million households now face home insurance affordability stress, Andrew Hall said Thursday in a speech in Canberra. As a growing number of people dump or scale back their insurance, a “protection gap” is emerging, he said.

How different is the market in Australia compared to SA? Can you list a few differences and similarities? How would those differences play out in terms of the “protection gap”? 2min read.

You may be interested in reading about the Australian Actuaries Climate Index here. From their website the Actuaries Institute (Australia) appears to be focusing efforts on data science and climate change. What can we learn from them that we can apply to our African context?”

Piercing Through Rain, Smoke and Fog: How Radar Satellites See Catastrophes

The potential for satellite technology to revolutionize claims management has long been recognized but has only recently been realized with technological advancements. Satellite-based data can give the insurer a “head start” on the event, according to Stephen Lathrope and Andy Read at the ICEYE, the microsatellite manufacturer and catastrophe monitoring company.

Appreciate how technology can be integrated into the claims ecosystem in this article. There are also links on this site to other articles and award winning videos on this topic. 5min read

Health Insurance

Consumers may lose medical aid tax credits

Explaining the matter on TV news channel, eNCA, Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general for the NHI at the Health Department, said the idea of shifting funds from the wealthy to the public system had been an ongoing discussion for years.

A few opinions are presented which indicates the multi layers there are in moving to NHI. 2.5min read

NHI Bill vote delayed amid backroom political twists and last-minute business lobbying

The vote on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill that seeks to introduce universal public healthcare in SA is now scheduled to be held on 6 December. And that vote must happen, regardless of the political twists and turns that were on display on Wednesday afternoon.

4min read

Report on cheap medical aid options handed to Minister, finally

The Council for Medical Schemes has submitted its report on affordable medical scheme options to Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla – although the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) has questioned the decision.

The BHF has argued that the regulator has the authority to grant exemptions to the Medical Schemes Act and allow schemes to offer low-cost benefit option (LCBO) products right away.

2min read

60m children who missed jabs in pandemic now at risk of killer diseases

Large outbreaks of diseases that mainly kill children are spreading around the world, a grim legacy of disruptions to health systems during the Covid-19 pandemic that have left more than 60m children without a single dose of standard childhood vaccines.

3min read

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants.

The week 18 – 24 November is World AMR Awareness Week. Please read the background to what it is and what is being done to combat it. 10min read

Antibiotic resistance causes more deaths than malaria and HIV/Aids combined. What Africa is doing to fight this silent epidemic

Each year antimicrobial resistance – the ability of microbes to survive agents designed to kill them – claims more lives than malaria and HIV/Aids combined. Africa bears the brunt of this development, which thrives on inequality and poverty. Nadine Dreyer asked Tom Nyirenda, a research scientist with over 27 years’ experience in infectious diseases, what health organisations on the continent are doing to fight this threat to medical progress.

 4min read


Banks, Insurers May Escape EU’s Toughest ESG Regulation So Far

Banks, asset managers and other financial firms have won a reprieve from Europe’s most consequential ESG regulation to date, as a wave of intense industry lobbying pays off.

What are your thoughts on this reprieve? How else do you hold the financial services industry accountable if not through their partnerships? 3min read

Banking on Emerging Markets

Across emerging markets, traditional banking institutions, as well as financial technology companies, are vying for the business of enormous swaths of the population whose needs are unserved or underserved.

This article or paper rather, uses Nubank (Brazil) as an example of how fintech in emerging markets can overshoot counterparts in developed markets. It’s a comprehensive analysis quoting examples from across emerging markets worldwide.  12- 15min read.


Star selector: Marcus Rautenbach

City Wire speaks to Marcus Rautenbach, principal investment consultant at Simeka Consultants & Actuaries. Questions cover amongst other related issues high interest rates and sticky inflation which will remain big themes for the end of 2023 and into 2024. 3.5min read

‘A pretty miserable year’, but bonds could be set for a better 2024

By the start of February this year, South African 10-year bonds (R2032) had rallied to a yield of 10.15%. In the volatile months that followed, they have never made it back to that territory.

For Sanlam Investments portfolio manager James Turp, this is indicative of how investors entered the year optimistic that the US Fed was set to pivot and have been disappointed ever since.

Great overview of the year for SA Bonds and what to expect in the new year. 4.5min read

Schroders Global Investor Study 2023

Schroders’ flagship study which has surveyed over 23,000 wealth investors who invest from 33 locations globally – including 400 South Africans, has identified that almost 80% of investors now believe that we have entered a new era of policy and market behaviour as a result of higher inflation and interest rates.

Discover why SA investors are still optimistic. Gain access to the study here. 5min read.

Biggest Polluting Firms Failing on Short-Term Emissions Goals: Investor Pressure Group

Fewer than one in five of the world’s biggest polluting companies have short-term emissions reductions targets in line with keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees Celsius, an investor pressure group said on Wednesday.

Frightening 2min read.

Foord: China could become world’s top-performing stock market

China could be the top-performing stock market in the world in 2024 – something considered to be the ‘most likely surprise’ by viewers of the Foord ‘What’s in Store’ webinar.

The share of the world’s middle class in the Asia Pacific region is seeing an increase that is projected to reach 66% by 2030 – up from 28% in 2009 – with China expected to be the main growth engine for this increase, said Brian Arcese, portfolio manager in Foord’s Singapore office.

A surprise indeed! 3min read

About YOU

Listening: A Career and Leadership Strategy

How many times have you found yourself in the midst of a thoughtful conversation only to be rudely interrupted?

It’s not only annoying but often seen as disrespectful and selfish. Chances are that your immediate reaction to an interruption wasn’t a positive one.

Good advice with tips on how to become an effective listener. 3min read

11 Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence

Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

We can all find at least one of the 11 signs in our behaviour – but the good news is that we can change it. 6min read

We are all leaders in some respect even if we’re not formally the head of a team at work. Do not think that because you are not a leader that EQ doesn’t apply to you.

Cultivating Virtual Management Skills for the Hybrid World

The majority of the insurance workforce is now hybrid — if not fully remote — with just 4 percent of companies requiring employees to come into the office every day. Today’s managers must be able to engage and motivate their employees across various locations; yet it’s likely many have had no formal training specific to virtual management.

This article is referring to the USA workforce but the tips for virtual management are nonetheless universally applicable. Useful tips for a hybrid employee as well! 4min read

Job hunting: why taking regular breaks is vital for your well-being and success

In many activities in life, including studying, working, or even job hunting, people need to take regular breaks in order to replenish their energy levels.

It’s in the break that you find yourself, direction. 3min read


As you wind down from a hectic year or even try to rush and complete everything before the end of the year, please take a moment to consider yourself kindly. Give yourself the benefit of the kindness you show others. If you are anticipating disappointment in your results, all the more reason to be kind to yourself. Take a look at Dr Kristin Neff’s site on self-compassion and begin practicing it today.

5min read