Hello everyone

ASSA has been in existence for 75 years and this year they held their 50th Annual Convention! I felt it appropriate that we touch on some of the topics that emerged from the Convention as they signal where your profession and society is heading.

The incoming president Costa Economou was clear in his address that South Africa needs solutions which are grounded in both data and human understanding and that the actuarial skill set and ASSA’s obligation to serve society can be integral to the process of finding these through collaborating with stakeholders.

The best debate entitled “Should ASSA actively participate in broad public analysis and debate?” argued by Simon Louw and Lusani Mulaudzi underscored these sentiments. An actuary is not only an actuary but a public interest actuary.

Roseanne Harris was awarded the Murray Medal, which is the most prestigious ASSA award of all, in acknowledgement of her service to the actuarial profession with distinction. Only 20 individuals have received this award since it was established in 1972. Congratulations Roseanne!

The conflict in the Middle East goes back decades and it is difficult to make judgements, however, don’t let that hold you back from finding out more about the history of the area and the vested economic interest of those who support either side. Schroeders covers the possible economic impact of the rising tension in the area on emerging markets.

We are well into the last quarter of the year and our energy and motivation needs to pick up to complete tasks and fulfil our academic and professional goals. Take some time to read the articles in the About YOU section to recharge your batteries and recalibrate for personal success.


MM Editorial Team

Economic matters

Middle East conflict: What are the economic implications?

Schroders Senior Emerging Markets Economist – David Rees – assesses the macroeconomic and market implications of renewed tensions in the Middle East. 3min read

Five things that the west doesn’t understand about China’s foreign policy

A deeper knowledge of China would help the west interpret Beijing’s actions more clearly, helpful at a time where many analysts see China as a potential challenger to the US as the dominant world power. With this in mind, here are five things that the west often gets wrong about Chinese foreign policy.

Why not put yourself to the test and ask yourself to name a few things that the West get wrong about China. Not to say that this article is the definitive authority on the subject, but it does open one’s eyes. 4min read

Derisking Dilemma: How German Companies Are Tackling China Risk

While still considering what the West may be getting wrong about China in the article above, read this article. The word risk is used interchangeably with “threat”.  China as an economic risk (rather than a threat) is open to broader interpretation.  6min read

Financial Services Industry

SA needs solutions grounded in both data and human understanding

Public interest must trump all other considerations when actuaries deliberate some of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, according to Costa Economou, the incoming President of the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA) and CEO of Colourfield Liability Solutions.

This is a must read for any aspiring actuary. It will put you in touch with ASSA leadership thinking. 3min read

FSCA Proposes to Align Waiting Periods for Microinsurers and Traditional Insurers

The FSCA is proposing to align the waiting periods that apply to microinsurers and traditional insurers by exempting microinsurers from Rule 2A.6.1 of the Policyholder Protection Rules (PPRs).

The proposed exemption will promote market development and competition and enhance financial inclusion by enabling microinsurers to provide affordable and accessible policies to vulnerable and low-income consumers, the Authority said.

Informative article. 3min read

Participants in Open Finance must provide information to the FSCA

The FSCA has instructed all financial institutions and third-party providers (TPPs) that participate in Open Finance to submit information on their Open Finance-related activities.

This article covers the types of risk and the ecosystems in Open Finance, demonstrating the need for regulation of the sector. 8min read

EY Africa’s Kavi Pather explains why AI innovation is vital for businesses

In this Let’s Talk AI interview, Michael Avery meets with Kavi Pather – the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leader for EY Africa – to discuss the importance of AI innovation. 30 min

Diversity and Inclusion

Nobel economics prize awarded to Claudia Goldin for work on women’s pay

Prof Goldin’s research uncovered key drivers behind the gender pay gap, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

She is only the third woman to receive the prize, and the first to not share the award with male colleagues.

Goldin’s contribution spans centuries showing how the gender pay gap changes over time. 3min read

Winners announced for the 2023 Santam Women of the Future Awards

Santam’s many years of supporting women in business in South Africa have given the company valuable insight into the potential pitfalls of the entrepreneurial journey. Santam understands that the first 1 000 days of running a business are the hardest – if you’re still in business by day 1 001, they believe you’re in it for the long haul! These incredibly dynamic women have either surpassed that critical point or are well on their way to doing so.

2min read

UNDICTATED: Meet FirstRand’s new CEO, the quiet iconoclast Mary Vilakazi

FirstRand’s disruptive ways continued this week when chartered accountant Mary Vilakazi, an erstwhile gifted child from Alexandria township, was named CEO to succeed the retiring Alan Pullinger. Vilakazi, 46, who has served as the group’s COO for the past five years, will break new ground when she takes over in April by becoming the first Black woman to lead a major financial services group in South Africa.

A 27 minute interview with probing questions on leadership and the weight of being the first Black female CEO for FirstRand.

Life Insurance

Hollard makes strategic investment in fast growing life insurance disruptor, Simply

The Simply deal follows Hollard’s seed investments in Naked and Dotsure, also insurtech market disruptors in their own right, and ties in with Hollard’s growth aspirations in the field of digitally driven insurance solutions.

Did you know that Hollard is SA’s largest privately owned insurance company? 3min read

Bidvest Life Uncovers The Difference Behind The Data: 2022 Claims Report

Life insurer Bidvest Life says that speed makes all the difference when it comes to paying claims.

This is particularly important for income protection which is intended to replace lost earnings when the life insured is unable to work.

Income protection claims accounted for 58% of Bidvest Life’s payouts in 2022 – more than for the rest of its portfolio combined.

3min read

Metropolitan takes top spot in Long-term Insurance

Metropolitan Life was announced as the winner of the Ask Afrika Orange Index 2023/2024 in the Long-term Insurance Life Industry category; an accolade awarded to financial services companies and long-term insurers that consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.

A well established and referenced customer experience benchmark. 2min read

General Insurance

Santam 2023 Insurance Barometer reveals SA’s biggest risks

The study, which tracks emerging risk trends in the country, was conducted against the backdrop of the rising frequency and severity of natural catastrophe losses, unprecedented levels of inflation and the soaring cost of repairs due to geopolitical issues impacting supply chains, as well as a fluctuating currency.

A very important read. The broker is mentioned in this article which is significant because they are a vital part of the insurance ecosystem. 7min read with access to the full report.

Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance (OSTI) results get Better and Better 

There is clearly no basis for the assumption in some quarters that the South African short-term insurance industry are serial offenders in treating their customers unfairly. In the overwhelming majority of cases, South African insurers deliver what their customers have paid for, and to a very high standard to boot, pumping as they do around R1,5 billion into the economy every single month of the year.

Read this article and ask yourself whether the industry and all those insured for short term, should be keeping the OSTI going at the price the article states. 3.5min read

Sasria wants an explicit guarantee that the State will be its reinsurer of last resort

Sasria’s chief executive, Mpumi Tyikwe, briefed members of the National Council of Provinces’ Select Committee on Finance on Sasria’s annual report for 2022/23.

Tyikwe speaks about the hardening of the reinsurance market as well as the factors that could lead to another big event in SA. It’s an overview of Sasria’s challenges which in short are SA’s challenges too! 4min read

Securing your digital fortunes: Introducing game-changing crypto insurance

As the cryptocurrency market continues its rapid growth, reaching a staggering valuation of more than $1 trillion, the potential risks associated with this digital asset class also escalate. Recognising the pressing need for comprehensive risk mitigation solutions, South African-based Revolute Underwriting Agency (Pty) Ltd in partnership with Digimune, a UK-based Cybercrime specialist company, has launched a cutting-edge crypto insurance product designed to protect individual investors and exchanges.

3min read

Viewpoint: Solving Systemic Risk Is the Cyber Market’s Number One Priority

Cyber insurers can sometimes feel like systemic risk is unique to them: it isn’t. The Covid pandemic was about as systemic as it gets. BI insurers faced an avalanche of claims following the first lockdowns. And the industry failed in the eyes of thousands of small business owners. The reason was a failure to address the perennial problem of systemic risk. The cyber market mustn’t repeat the same mistakes.

6min read

‘Urgent Need’ to Understand Single Points of Failure in Digital Supply Chains: Report

The rise of cyber risk accumulation events has highlighted the need for cyber insurers and reinsurers to understand single points of failure (SPoFs) within their customers’ digital supply chains, according to a new report published by the International Underwriting Association (IUA).

Another well written article from Insurance Journal. It is a lesson in risk mitigation. 6min read

Health Insurance

The Lancet | 200

The Lancet is a Medical Journal which has been going for 200 years! This infographic is a timeline giving the hallmark contributions along the way. It is very important for anyone in Health to have a sense of how developments have unfolded over time and what this means for the future. 5min read

Global health-financing mechanism key to UHC

No one questions the value of universal health coverage, writes SA Medical Journal editor Bridget Farham, but what the concept requires – worldwide, especially in lower-income countries – is political will, at the very least, and some form of global health financing mechanism.

A must read for this section. Note the stats from The Lancet. 3min read

Updated: Withdraw 2024 Contribution Increase Announcements, Regulator Instructs Medical Schemes

Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) has lodged an appeal against a directive from the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) to cease and retract all communication to members about its proposed contribution and benefit changes for 2024.

It seems as if medical schemes and the CMS are destined to be at loggerheads. Some elements of the process of arriving at the increase are explained. 4min read

CMS backtracks on medical aids increase notices

The CMS now says it acknowledges the need of medical aids to communicate with consumers but adding that they must make it clear they are still waiting for sign-off.

Most recent article on the topic (19 Oct 2023). 4min read

Bankmed membership scope expanded to the financial services industry

Dating as far back as 1914, Bankmed has been restricted to the employees of banks as defined in the Banks Act (Act 94 of 1990). Significant evolution in the banking industry over time has resulted in banks becoming significantly more than just a bank in the historic sense of the word – they are now also having to be registered as financial service providers. This has informed Bankmed’s strategic desire to expand its membership scope to the greater financial services industry, and the Scheme has recently secured approval in this regard.

Interesting how Bankmed has adjusted to a trend to achieve growth. This would be an interesting case study on determining risks associated with the strategy and likelihood of its success. 3min read

Doctors’ indemnity unclear in NHI Bill

While the NHI Bill is being widely dissected nationwide, little mention has been made of indemnity and insurance arrangements, writes Dr Graham Howarth, Medical South Africa lead, Medical Protection.

2min read

CompCare covers all bases ahead of 2024

“In a climate of uncertainty surrounding healthcare funding legislation, the focus has turned to medical schemes that prioritise responsible planning, transparency, and proactive care delivery to consumers,” says Josua Joubert, the chief executive and principal officer of CompCare Medical Scheme.

The article throws light on the issue of sustainability and PMBs not brought to the fore in earlier articles. 3min read


Stokvels show resilience despite tough economy as savings rise by 42% to R8.3 billion

Since November 2019, FNB stokvel customers have continually increased saving via a stokvel surpassing the R8.3 billion mark in total member contributions. The growth is a potent indication of the Stokvel members’ financial tenacity in the face of a challenging economic climate.

2.5min read

SA sees alarming rise in digital banking fraud

Cyber criminals stole over R740 million from unsuspecting users through digital banking fraud in 2022.

This is according to the latest banking fraud statistics from the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).

Tie this in with the article on systemic risk and cyber insurance. 5min read


Balancing risk and return on S.A. government bonds

Current market sentiment towards SA government bonds is especially negative. Both local and foreign investors are becoming increasingly concerned about the debt hangover effects and higher borrowing costs arising from continued fiscal slippage on an already bloated balance sheet.

A balanced and non-emotive view. The full article is well worth reading attentively. 10min read

Sitting on the fence may allow a longer-term approach

Although they are called passive investments, a more appropriate name is index tracker. This is because the primary objective of passive investing is to closely track the performance of an index at low cost, but it is not entirely passive as there are some important active decisions to be made.

It is believed that half the total listed equity fund assets in developed markets around the world are passive investments. Read more about how they work, common misconceptions and why they are so popular. 3min read

Economic resilience to be tested

Following challenges such as the COVID-19 health crisis and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and given the sharpest pace of interest rate tightening witnessed in over four decades, global economic activity has been resilient. This has led market participants to question the dynamics behind economy and labour markets. Renowned economist Milton Friedman’s theory on long and variable lags offers some insight, highlighting the traditional 12 to 18-month delay in the time it takes for changes in monetary policy to influence aggregate demand. Despite initial assumptions that this lag would shorten due to the contraction in central bank balance sheets, this has not been the case.

4min read

Retirement / Pensions

Specialist Just SA highlights unfair annuity pricing for low earners

Just SA was responding to the research findings made by Willis Towers Watson (WTW) consulting actuary Joanna Combrink and WTW institutional investment consultant Dale Taylor about the fairness of annuity pricing for low-income earners.

Joanna Combrink and Dale Taylor presented their paper at the 2023 ASSA Convention. 3min read

About YOU

How to stop your mind from wandering

Sometimes we just need a nudge to get us back on track, we need to hear the words from someone else who has been through enough deadlines and personal goal setting (with herself and many others) to recognise that a simple but immediate change in behaviour is all that we need. Daphne Gray-Grant is my go to for practical advice on getting things done – she hits the procrastinator spot.  The advice is not spiritual or deep, although it can lead to that. Read her latest blog if you need to up your game and get your studying done.

3-2-1: On managing expectations, and the importance of trial and error

James Clear offers nuggets of wisdom and this blog is an example, particularly the first three of 3-2-1 which are a guide on managing expectations. These are very useful in this exam period. It’s not straightforward because expectations can motivate us, but we also need to let go of them once we have done our best.

Avoiding Stupidity is Easier than Seeking Brilliance

We often focus on trying to be brilliant, yet many great people get far more mileage out of avoiding making stupid mistakes. Amateurs win the game when their opponent loses points, experts win the game by gaining points. Shane Parrish

The above blog (8min read) will challenge your thinking on winning. See the upcoming exams as an opportunity to win by avoiding making mistakes and by being open to testing yourself beforehand, not only in terms of content but of managing yourself, your time and your attention by not making stupid mistakes.

Below are some tiny thoughts from Shane Parrish.

Your position determines if you’re playing on easy mode or hard mode.

Many people unintentionally choose to play on hard mode by not sleeping enough, not eating healthy food, or not investing in their most important relationships.

You can’t remove struggle or emotion from life, but you can put yourself in a position where they don’t control you.

Consistently doing the simplest things makes the biggest difference.

Lastly, some encouragement from Gail Sheehy on the gifts that come from the pain associated with growth. Moving from the familiar into the unknown as many of you will be doing as you enter the workplace.

“The work of adult life is not easy. As in childhood, each step presents not only new tasks of development but requires a letting go of the techniques that worked before. With each passage some magic must be given up, some cherished illusion of safety and comfortably familiar sense of self must be cast off, to allow for the greater expansion of our own distinctiveness.”