South Africans tend to veer towards a glass half-empty attitude. However, there is usually a silver lining to be found somewhere, said Butsi Tladi, president of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) speaking at the recent FIA Awards.
“I’m very optimistic about our country and its ability to overcome challenges,” she said.
She revealed that the FIA’s focus on constructive engagement and on finding a positive narrative for the industry and the country has paid off. The World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries has voted for SA to assume the presidency of this global organisation in 2024.
The World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries provides global leadership, develops solutions and coordinates actions to promote the insurance intermediary industry at an international level. It also enables the exchange of information on global issues and goals that all national associations of intermediaries have in common.
“SA will be leading efforts for insurance intermediaries to speak with one voice to international institutions and regulators throughout the world,” reveals Tladi.
“South Africans are very quick to gloss over the country’s achievements and focus almost myopically on our shortcomings. It’s worth taking a pause to acknowledge that – just in the last month – we navigated complex geo-politics and clawed back some of the ground lost in the position we assumed with regards to the Russia/Ukraine conflict; in a month dedicated to gender equality, we hosted a successful gathering of women business leaders in the Global South at BRICS; SA hosted a successful netball world cup; our women’s football team achieved the highest level in the history of our participation and we progressed the issues of equal pay, for equal work; and, finally, we are once again united in our support for our national rugby team.”
She said that leaders have a duty to continue to maintain a perspective that is balanced and recognises that our democracy is young and that even more established democracies around the world grapple with their own set of challenges.
“We should not forget that growth and progress often come with their own trials, and together, we will continue to navigate this journey toward a stronger, more resilient society,” she said.
Pointing out that the insurance landscape is constantly evolving, she said advisors have a front-row seat to witness these winds of change.
“In this era of rapid globalisation and technological disruption, we find ourselves grappling with several key issues that demand our attention and innovation. Advisors around the world share similar concerns about growing protection gaps, that insurer appetite is shifting, and it is becoming increasingly hard to obtain cover for certain categories of risk.”
Chief among these concerns is the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks.
“These attacks not only put sensitive client data at risk but also threaten the stability of our entire industry,” she said. “Our clients depend on us to safeguard their interests, which means we need to harness the power of technology to streamline our processes, enhance customer experiences and create tailored solutions that address evolving risks.”
Another concern is climate change, which is no longer a future threat but a present reality.
“The insurance industry faces increasing claims due to natural disasters. We must find ways to adapt, and support sustainable practices that mitigate these disasters. Insurance solutions of the future have embraced sustainability considerations and have these at the core. We can take a leadership role in advocating for environmentally responsible practices.”
A third concern relates to the increasingly complex global regulatory frameworks. Conceding that navigating these regulations can be a daunting task, particularly for advisors offering solutions in multiple jurisdictions, she said the industry needs to continue to actively engage with policymakers to shape regulations that foster innovation while maintaining integrity and security. Simultaneously, it needs to invest in continuous education to ensure compliance and help our clients navigate these intricacies.
Another industry-wide challenge is a growing shortage of skilled professionals. “We must attract and retain the brightest minds to ensure our industry’s future prosperity. To achieve this requires investing in training programmes and mentorship initiatives to nurture young talent. By providing opportunities for learning and growth, we can ensure a steady influx of skilled individuals into our industry.”
While the challenges facing the industry are formidable, they are not insurmountable, said Tladi. “By embracing innovation, collaboration, sustainability, and education, we can not only overcome these challenges but also thrive in this ever-changing landscape.
The FIA’s newly elected board members were introduced at the ceremony, with Butsi Tladi (AlexForbes) being re-elected as the President of the FIA and Ronald King (PSG Wealth Financial Planning) as the newly elected Vice President.
Other board members include Theoniel McDonald (Wealth Associates), Dr Nolwandle Mgoqi (AON South Africa), Peter Olyott (Indwe Risk Services), Lara Wild (Marsh Africa), Gericke du Plessis (Smit & Kie Brokers), Isobel Rohwer (The One Legal Financial Consulting Service), Caron Whitfield (OLEA South Africa), Zahir Anter (Overberg Wealth & Risk Management), Rob Lansdell (Profin Financial Solutions), Roy MacLachlan (Clan Consulting Solutions), Errol Masinga (Marsh Africa), Gerhardt Meyer (PSG Wealth Financial Planning), Greg Setzkorn (Setzkorn, Harvey, Dodds & Associates), Barry Taylor (Integrisure) and George Dell (MitonOptimal).