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Insurance Markets
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Regulation beefed up

The chairperson of the Financial Services Board (FSB) board, Dr Cyrus Rustomjee, says the efforts made in recent years to strengthen both prudential and conduct of business regulation in South Africa has served the country well with domestic markets proving resilient to the global financial crisis.
In his review of the latest FSB Annual Report, which was tabled in Parliament recently, Rustomjee says the FSB will continue to watch the regulatory and supervisory trends. “We will also monitor several recent international proposals for regulatory reform which are emerging from this global episode of financial turmoil.
“South Africa’s financial regulatory landscape continues to evolve robustly, with extensive and far-reaching proposals for retirement fund reform, an emerging regulatory framework for micro-insurance business, and the review of a number of aspects of the regulatory framework for insurance.”
In his review, former FSB executive officer Rob Barrow says in 2008 and beyond, the environment can be expected to be even more challenging as growth in the economy slows and as inflationary pressures intensify.
“Increased volatility in the markets will continue to be a feature and the challenge for macroeconomic policy will be to sustain steady growth while reigning in inflation.
“In this challenging environment, the financial sector has demonstrated its resilience and a high level of performance. The Collective Investment Industry, for instance, once again attracted record inflows in spite of volatile markets. This is commendable as there had been outflows in other global industries.
“The strengthening of the equity market has led to a notable move from equity investments to money market funds. More importantly, the financial sector has been able to perform its intermediation function and thus support the growth and development process.
“Regarding the Fidentia curatorship, it is pleasing to note that the National Prosecuting Authority became involved early in the process and through their timeous intervention, action has already been taken against certain people involved. The curators of the Fidentia and Ovation groups have continued to secure the recovery of investors’ funds and have made good progress in winding up the affairs of these businesses.
“It is anticipated that the majority of issues will be dealt with by the end of this year. Unfortunately investors in these entities will suffer significant losses. The lessons learnt from these events have been thoroughly assessed and steps have been taken to intensify regulatory and supervisory processes in order to avoid failures of this nature in the future.


“Likewise the pension funds secret profit (bulking) issue has been referred to the South African Police Services for the prosecution of criminal actions committed. In the Lifecare Pension Fund (P Ghavalas) case significant effort has gone into the investigation, which has led to a number of arrests. The matter is ongoing.”
An overview of the various industries which the FSB regulates and supervises shows that the sector is strong and robust, albeit with some challenges.

Road Accident Fund
The FSB is empowered to supervise the RAF in terms of the Financial Supervision of the Road Accident Fund Act 1993. The intention of the Act is to subject the RAF, as far as possible, to supervision appropriate to its insurance function. The total liabilities of the fund at 31st March 2007 exceeded its assets by R20,2 bn, which placed the fund in a technically insolvent position. The challenge for the FSB relates to the fact that the RAF, as a public entity with public funding, cannot be supervised on the same basis as a private sector commercial insurer.
An electronic version of the 2008 FSB Annual Report (covering the period 1st April 2007 until 31st March 2008) may be viewed (and downloaded) at the FSB’s website: www.fsb.co.za  Go to ‘Publications’, followed by ‘Reports’. Click on 2008.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:21.10 1st November, 2008
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