Lelané Bezuidenhout CFP®, CEO of the FPI, reflects on the year that was and sets out her stall for the one which lies ahead.
The year that was (and what a year it was)
While we were all hopeful that 2021 would see the world return to some semblance of normality, the virus clearly had other plans for us. The challenges posed by Covid-19 will define our generation. But it’s not all bad – at least not from a professional perspective.
Like almost every other organisation on the planet, the pandemic pushed all of us at the FPI way out of our comfort zones. But we pulled together like never before and came up with sustainable, long-term solutions to the short-term challenges posed by the lockdown. I always ask my team, ‘What is the silver lining to this dark cloud?’ And last year we saw a few silver linings.
We decided in 2019 to move our software to a Cloud platform – little did we know how timeous this decision was. It meant that we could operate from anywhere in the world at any point in time. Team FPI was, therefore, ready to mobilise shortly after our first “family meeting” in March 2020. Like thousands of other IT departments across the world, our IT department suddenly became one of the strongest pillars in our organisation. Having the right IT solutions for your business is pivotal to your survival post-2020.
Then, soon after lockdown hit, we took the bold decision to move almost all of our events, including our annual Professionals’ Convention, online as a digital event. While this took a monumental effort from every single member of our team, it really paid off. Not only were we able to continue to serve our community, but going digital actually allowed us to expand our footprint to more remote areas of South and Southern Africa. Going online also had the unexpected advantage of allowing people to ‘attend’ sessions up to six months after the live event. If you still want to register for the Convention and earn CPD hours – you can! Simply visit www.fpi.co.za or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to going digital with all our social events, CPD training sessions and annual refreshers, we also hosted our first ever online Professional Competency Examination (PCE) sessions. Thankfully, these were a resounding success. In fact, moving forward, candidates will be able to sit all of our exams remotely. This will greatly reduce costs for many individuals and ensure that the knowledge and professionalism that go hand-in-hand with the CFP®, FSA, and RFP professional designations can reach our region’s furthest corners. (The RFP and FSA professional designations are our Advice designations whilst the CFP® designation is our only Financial Planning designation. All three professional designations are registered with the South African Qualification Authority. To find out more, contact
2020 was a year for all organisations to change their business models to adapt to a new reality. This ranged from changing the way the products are accessed, through to using lean and robust technology to be able to adapt to situations quickly and seamlessly. As a members’ body, we embarked on a massive project to move our membership systems to a new platform. More about this in future communications – it is a very exciting time for the FPI as we gear up for 2021 and beyond.
Confronting the challenges of 2021
We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge that Covid-19 will continue to present obstacles for all financial planners and advisers – and their clients. But I worry that the pandemic might divert our attention from some of the other challenges facing our profession. Which is why I am going to do my utmost best to ensure that we as a community do not lose sight of the following issues:
- Improving diversity and inclusion among Financial Planners and advisers in South Africa must be a continual work in progress for every business in our industry. The FPI, via our Human Capital Committee, revised our D & I strategy late last year and will kick off 2021 by constituting a brand new D & I committee.
- Embracing financial planning technology (FPtech) within Practice Standards. What was a matter of debate a few years ago is now a done deal – FPtech is here to stay. Instead of attempting to stem the inevitable tide, why not go with the flow and use it to your advantage? Judicious use of technology can greatly improve efficiency in your practice. It can also help you to appeal to the increasing number of millennials and Gen Zs who are creating and inheriting wealth.
- Remaining profitable as compliance costs increase. If you haven’t already done so you need to start automating your back-end processes. And if you have started, keep going! This really is the way of the future.
On my wish-list
Retirement crisis – Did you know that only 6% of South Africans can afford to retire? Improving this figure is a monstrous challenge for our profession, our government and, frankly, our citizens. Towards the end of last year, Treasury issued an exchange control circular that announced the reclassification of inward listed debt and derivative instruments as well as exchange-traded funds referencing foreign assets. But then, due to confusion created by some FSPs, they pulled the circular back. It is important to note that the circular issued (and then withdrawn) regulates exchange control and cannot determine Financial Sector Regulation without proper consultation with the FSCA and other bodies. It is therefore very dangerous to assume that Regulation 28 was almost “changed” by this circular. What this whole incident highlighted, though, is that Regulation 28 is indeed in need of an urgent review.
Consumer Education – The FPI took our consumer education programmes (like MYMONEY123™) online and onto our social media platforms. The latest series is entitled “Wills and Estates – Mistakes made by the Rich and Famous”. Consumer education on this topic is critical, especially
in times like these.
Creating awareness around FPI professional designations – Consumers need to understand the value of working with a professional member of the FPI. Our social media campaigns, as well as our television and radio interviews, will all focus on this. Our members commit to a robust Code of Ethics and are held to very high competency standards that ensure that the customer always comes first. Everything we do at FPI is centred around our vision statement: Professional Financial Planning and Advice for all.
On a personal level, I always have a few ‘keywords’ for each year. This year, my words are: Recalibrate, Personal Resilience and Stamina – all will be needed to stomach the second (and hopefully the last) wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With this, I need to let you go as I am sure you cannot wait to either complete a CPD webinar (Complementary to professional members of the FPI) or, to apply for FPI membership. I wish all Cover readers a healthy and successful 2021. And remember, agility and flexibility in every regard, are the key to success!