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Lizelle van der Merwe, FIA CEO

 

Don’t lose sight of non-pandemic challenges through 2022

Two years under pandemic has brought out the best in FIA members. Each of you have fine-tuned your advice methodologies to accommodate new ways of working and retain the human touch in your daily interactions with clients. But we can’t allow Covid-19 to distract us from the many non-pandemic challenges that the association, and our members, will face in 2022 and beyond.

Regulation remains top of mind at the FIA, and each of our executive committees is watching closely the other developments in their respective areas. It seems, however, that much of the ‘in process’ regulation will have an impact across our advice disciplines. The long-awaited Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill will be a gamechanger for all stakeholders in the financial services industry, and is likely to demand much of our attention in the first quarter of 2022.

Business regulation will also keep FIA members busy in the new year. We expect the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and other transformation- focused interventions to be particularly impactful. The FIA met with the Department of Labour in November 2021, and can confirm that most financial services businesses have plenty to do to transform their workforces. The bottom line: Meaningful progress towards skills development and transformation are non-negotiable for sustainable financial advisory practices.

One of the best responses to the operational and regulatory environment is to adopt flexible business models. Winners in the financial advisory space will be those who leverage technology to offer easy access to digital platforms, and balance automation with face- to-face client engagement. It is more important than ever for us to put the end-consumer at the heart of everything we do. And we can achieve this by keeping things simple. A simpler advice, financial product and regulatory approach will go a long way towards boosting consumer confidence and stimulating economic growth.

My advice to South Africa’s financial advisory businesses, and especially to FIA members, is to understand your value proposition and keep a close eye on the dynamic environment you operate in. You must pay attention to changes in consumer behaviour and align your business with these changes. I know, through my many interactions with FIA members, that you are up to the task. You are, after all, solution-focused entrepreneurs that are doing your part to build a prosperous country.

My challenge to each of you as we enter 2022 is to think differently about your business, your service model, your offer to consumers and your approach to consumer engagement… Be purposeful in growing your businesses and attracting, developing and retaining talent, because skills are a major differentiator in the advisory practice context.

The FIA’s focus through 2022 will be on our ongoing engagements with members and the broad spectrum of industry stakeholders, including government, regulators and product providers. We will work tirelessly to build and promote trust relationships between each stakeholder grouping, and leverage these trust relationships to find the best solution to the compliance and operational challenges we face.

Let us make 2022 a year of collaboration and involvement, because the industry will never achieve broad objectives such as access, skills development and transformation if each of us is pulling in our own direction.

We value our relationships with our members a great deal. Our door is always open and you are welcome to contact us at any time to share whatever is on your mind. We’d love to hear from you.

Lizelle
lizelle@fia.org.za