Digital enablement and financial inclusion. This, believes Eddie Brandt, iMasFinance national manager: group brand ambassador, are the main developments set to impact the future of financial services in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Brandt chats to Ventureburn following this week’s Africa Day celebrations, a continent-wide initiative to celebrate the birth of the African Union in 1963. The union’s Agenda 2063 asserts the need for “sound, sustainable financial inclusion” as an essential building block to shared prosperity and eradicating poverty.
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iMasFinance is a South African financial services firm.
When looking at the future of business in Africa what are the new trends or developments that you’re looking forward to?
At the moment, the fastest growing sectors are agriculture, telecommunication, finance and banking, infrastructure, oil and gas. As the need for transport increases due to better job opportunities in urban areas, the automobile industry is also growing and with that the need for affordable housing.
Solar Power is also a sector that is becoming more and more important as sustainable power is becoming a challenge especially in highly populated and urban areas.
From your close working relationships with big corporates in South Africa, what would you say are the main challenges that local businesses are currently faced with and how are they overcoming and even thriving despite these challenges?
From our engagement with senior management at corporates that we have an agreement with, it is clear that the last two years have been tough on everyone. Rising costs means that businesses are under more financial pressure and in many cases have to stretch their workforce that have become smaller due to restructuring. I would say that a lot of companies are investing in their workforce through training an upskilling as well as allowing employees to be more flexible by working from home.
How can employers still implement employee benefits especially during a time where employees have been exposed to salary cuts, retrenchments and adapting to working remotely?
At iMasFinance, we invest in our own staff compliment through employee wellness initiatives such as our employee wellness hotline and we also have workshops where we empower our staff with skills that they can apply in their work and personal lives.
These workshops focus on work-life balance, emotional and physical wellbeing as well as assist employees with setting and reaching their goals. We also offer financial wellness workshops at our employer partners and to our own staff. I would encourage employers to invest in the personal wellbeing of their employees as this affects all areas of their lives, including their work performance.
What, according to iMasFinance, are the main developments in the local financial services sector and how will these developments impact the future of financial services in South Africa and Africa as a whole?
The two main developments are digital enablement and financial inclusion. Managing your finances at anytime from anywhere has become the norm. However, financial services have to be accessible in rural areas as well – that is why we have recently invested in the revamping of our regional offices so that we can service our members better in the areas where they work and live.
Major banks have also expanded their physical presence in the last few years by opening more regional branches.