Financial Planning Conference 2017: Introducing Gerald Mwandiambira CFP

Gerald Mwandiambira CFP® will be speaking about financial planning in Africa at the CISI’s Financial Planning Conference
by Jake Matthews

Book your place at the CISI Financial Planning Conference 2017

Currently balancing three jobs – acting chief executive and chief strategist at South African Savings Institute (SASI), director at the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI) and chief executive officer of independent wealth planning firm Sugar Creek Wealth – Gerald has a wide range of experience to share with those in attendance at his upcoming talk.
The final ‘investment frontier’Gerald says a growing middle class and rising average wage make South Africa a particularly interesting market for financial planners right now. 

The population of Africa passed the one billion mark in 2011, and a 2014 report by the African Development Bank Group, Tracking Africa’s progress in figures, predicts that the continent will “lead population growth over the next 50 years”. It also estimates that the middle class in Africa will rise to over one billion people in 2060.    

South Africa is set to witness its fair share of population growth over the coming years, particularly among those of working and earning age. Statistics South Africa’s Mid-year population estimates 2017 concludes that 29.6% of the South African population is younger than 15-years-old.  

The cities of Ekurhuleni, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town will all see population increases of over 12% by 2025, says the report. 
"I will be talking about financial planning from a different perspective; an African perspective"This continent-wide trend of a swelling population and middle class is creating an enticing investment opportunity that Gerald wishes to share exclusive insight to during his talk.  

“This rapidly growing group [of middle class people] with a young population will necessitate the need for more complex financial and wealth planning,” says Gerald. “At the conference, I will be discussing an opportunity for UK-based businesses to consider tapping into this potential. I will be talking about financial planning from a different perspective; an African perspective. I’m doing this so that everyone can recognise that financial planning is a global profession.   

“This is a future need that must be addressed now. The expertise and technology required to meet this demand, together with investment capital, resides in the UK, Europe and the US.
“The world is getting smaller. The investment climate is getting smaller. We, as financial planners, need to be savvy and able to tap into whatever market or conversation our clients ask us to get into.” 

Gerald hopes to stimulate debate among conference delegates who are looking at opportunities in new markets. This may include partnerships and joint ventures that will allow Africa to be considered a viable financial planning destination.

“This may also allow UK firms to develop local teams and allow a return on investment that can reward UK shareholders,” Gerald adds. 
Driving media awareness An experienced media personality, Gerald is two-time winner of the FPI of Southern Africa’s Media Award, which recognises an FPI member who is actively involved with, and has made an outstanding and significant contribution to, print, broadcast or online media in order to promote financial planning amongst consumers and the financial planning profession, while also promoting the FPI of Southern Africa and CFP mark. 

Kobus Kleyn CFP, vice chairman FPI client engagement committee at the FPI of Southern Africa; board director and board secretary at the Southern Africa Youth Project and a member of the Ethics Institute of South Africa, has praised Gerald for playing “a key role at this critical time within our profession, with the tsunami of regulations coming our way, to drive media awareness to the consumer”. 
"We, as financial planners, need to be savvy and able to tap into whatever market or conversation our clients ask us to get into" Despite having no active mentors, Gerald credits Kleyn with inspiring him. “Kobus is leading the way in changing the way our industry is seen.” He, too, is doing this by using his influence to mentor young entrants to the industry and encourage them to embrace the media, social media and technology extensively. “The media-savvy professional will be the financial planner of the future,” he predicts.  

Gerald almost ended up in financial planning by mistake. He started off as a stockbroker before leading what he calls a chequered career path. “I was in danger of being a ‘jack of all trades but master of none’,” he recalls. “However, financial planning is the career path that allows you to be a specialist in all areas of financial services. You could call us ‘masters of the financial universe’.

“It’s a rewarding career and, with the profession maturing and standards lifting, we are the only professionals who can be a ‘one-stop shop’ for expert opinion and advice.”  
Saving for the futureGerald also works on a pro bono basis for SASI, which describes itself online as a “non-profit organisation dedicated to developing a robust culture of saving in South Africa”. This is especially important as South Africa has low levels of financial literacy and a poor savings culture, according to a 2016 survey called Adult financial literacy competencies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development International Network on Financial Education. 

It finds that South Africa has the lowest level of financial knowledge for both genders out of the 30 countries surveyed, and that only one in two South African respondents could pay their bills on time. 

Research by online data platform Trading Economics puts the average South African wage at R18,687 (£1,108) a month. In 12 months’ time it will be R19,979 (£1,184) and by 2020 it will be R22,432 (£1,330). To put this into context, the average rent in South Africa, as of Q2 2017, was R7,080 (£420), according to data from software company PayProp’s Rental index. Data from automated clearing house BankservAfrica’s Disposable salary index approximated the average South African disposable income as R13,980 (£829) for June 2017. 

“These concerns,” Gerald says, “may all be mitigated by an improvement in savings culture by all sectors of the South African population. 

“SASI is committed to playing a meaningful role in securing sustained growth in the national savings rate to enhance both the financial health of South Africa and the wellbeing of its citizens.”

The future of financial planning lies in simply communicating, says Gerald. “I think my core competency is that I have always been a good communicator. This is a skill every CFP professional must have. They must be able to articulate complex ideas into simple and understandable language.” 

By encouraging newcomers to the profession and helping to improve financial literacy nationwide, Gerald is using his communication for the good of his home country; but his work doesn’t end there. 

Going forward, Gerald wishes to continue his media activity and make his voice heard beyond South Africa and Africa. The CISI Financial Planning Conference 2017 is “an early stop on this journey” and one he does not plan to make alone: “I hope many colleagues reading this will consider joining me.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the ‘African perspective’, making new friends, investment partnerships and inspiring everyone to realise that there is financial planning beyond the UK, the Europe and the US – and you can be a part of this.” 

Gerald is flying in from South Africa to talk about financial planning in Africa and the challenges ahead at the CISI’s Financial Planning Conference, day 1, 5.20pm. Book your place to hear him and over 40 other speakers.
Published: 14 Sep 2017
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