By: Warren Ingram and Katlego Mei, Galileo Capital Group
Discussing race in South Africa is a difficult and scary topic for most incumbents in the financial services industry.
In the age of Social Media, the scope for an honest conversation about race is severely limited as many observers will look for reasons to be outraged rather than reasons to understand. Our observation is that this is equally true for black and white industry participants who fear being unfairly labelled or misunderstood. However, fear should not be the reason for us to avoid an honest conversation about race in financial planning. We can all benefit by sharing our personal experiences, our fears, hopes, failures and successes in our mutual quest to move South Africans forward on their journey to financial freedom.
The best financial planners are those who can help transform their clients’ lives so that they do not have to live in a state of fear and anxiety about their financial well-being. The skills, integrity and understanding that are required to be a great financial planner are the same skills that can be used to accelerate the racial transformation of our industry. Collectively, our ultimate objective is to reduce inequality, create greater financial inclusivity and ensure a better life for all in South Africa. We should not view transformation as a competition where there will be winners and losers. This should be an inclusive journey where we grow the industry to the benefit of all.
Done correctly, transformation of financial planning businesses should create better outcomes for everyone. Incumbents should see this as an opportunity to improve their businesses and new entrants should be looking for opportunities to learn from the most experienced financial planners in the country. It is a reality that most financial planners are older and have a succession planning problem in their businesses. There is a wonderful opportunity to solve a succession planning problem while offering employment to the next generation of South African financial planning professionals.
Starting on a new journey is often a bit scary, we fear the worst and that fear can be paralyzing. However, if you approach the change with an open heart, with honesty and a real willingness to learn, you will find that most South Africans will be equally willing to share the journey with you. While you might make mistakes along the way, do not let these mistakes derail you, rather learn from them and trust your colleagues to understand and be patient – you would do the same for them if you trusted their intentions.
Our experience has been hugely positive, and we can only encourage our industry colleagues to find their own positive experiences on the transformation journey!